TCM’s latest collaboration with Running Press drops in book stores this week in the form of Hollywood Victory: The Movies, Stars, and Stories of World War II by Christian Blauvelt. Comprehensively researched, thoughtfully communicated, and supported by a wealth of sources and high quality images, Hollywood Victory serves as a premier authority on Hollywood’s unprecedented alliance with the U.S. government and involvement in World War II.
Blauvelt tells this story in an engaging, conversational manner. He brings in direct quotes to enhance the flow of the narrative, and the reader can’t help but feel caught up in the various elements of the story. Whether he’s covering the Red Cross’ collaboration with Bette Davis’ charity work, the influence of real-life refugees on the production and timelessness of Casablanca, Charlie Chaplin’s satirical masterpiece, The Great Dictator, or the role of propaganda in the cartoons of the forties, Blauvelt finds the perfect balance of being entertaining and informative. Blauvelt leaves no stone unturned, and he delves into important and interesting topics, such as the role of African American entertainers in supporting and promoting American freedoms overseas despite facing racism and oppression at home.
What makes this Hollywood story so interesting is how unlikely it was in the first place. The movie industry is a business first, and the European market was highly lucrative for studios leading up to the 40s. However, with many early entertainers immigrating from (and sometimes fleeing) Europe, the political times allowed for an unprecedented opportunity for Hollywood to go all in on American ideals.
Readers who love classic Hollywood will discover fascinating tales involving such luminaries as Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Orson Welles, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, and more. The text is truly a who’s who of the era, and even readers who aren’t particularly interested in Hollywood’s war effort will find lots to be engaged by in Blauvelt’s text.
Beyond all of the great stories, a standout element of Hollywood Victory is its wonderful pictures. The book features movie stills, promotional images, behind-the-scenes production photos, and live pictures from a wide range of live patriotic events which simply bring Hollywood’s involvement in World Word II to live for the reader. Some of these images aren’t available online or anywhere else, and they’re recreated in the highest quality and printed on premium glossy paper stock.
No detail on this book has been spared, and behind the dust jacket lies a beautiful embossed logo on the front of the book and on its spine. It has a nice weight to it, and it’s the perfect size and shape to sit down with the book, open it up to a chapter, and soak up all of the details.
Hollywood Victory by Christian Blauvelt is another high quality entry in a fantastic lineup of books by Running Press and TCM. It is available in bookstores today, and it’s highly recommended for 1940s movie buffs by us here at Conskipper.