What in the World interests Women? Hollywood, Postwar America, and Johnny Belinda
During World War II, when the Office of War Information urged the American film companies to help the nation win the war, the OWI's Bureau of Motion Pictures delivered both moral support and guidance. The BMP “Manual” (1942), for instance, encouraged producers to show women dropping off their children at day-care centers, then cheerfully heading off to jobs where they enjoyed equal opportunity and equal pay. Scenes like those may have been fantasy, and for some women wryly amusing, and yet, in the late 1940s and beyond, as one historian says, World War II came to be thought of as “the best war ever,” the war, according to myth, where there were no tensions over class, or race, or gender.
1 Leonard J. Leff teaches literature and film at Oklahoma State University