7. The motion picture industry avoided wartime conversion
Hollywood served as the seat of the American motion picture industry in December, 1941, and within days of the destruction at Pearl Harbor a formal liaison established between the motion picture industry and the Office of Wartime Information in Washington DC. FDR himself intervened within the motion picture industry. Roosevelt realized the value of propaganda achieved in film, even in those which were not overtly propagandized, but which showed everyday American life and values. So, while other industries, such as automobile manufacturing, shifted to controlled wartime production, the film industry remained mostly free of government restrictions and quotas. Some Hollywood facilities shifted to supporting military roles. Others remained free to create films designed to entertain their audience, subject to wartime censorship, when they addressed the war effort, or the contemporary home front.
FDR also recognized the value to morale for the troops overseas and at sea offered by Hollywood movies. The already enormous catalogs from the major studios were made available to the US government with virtually no restrictions, though some films were not released for military distribution. They were converted to 16mm film, rather than the 35mm in which they had been shown during their first run in theaters. New releases from Hollywood, which continued to produce new films throughout the war, were also made available to the military. Hollywood films were diluted in talent during the war, with so many major stars absent while serving in the military. Among them were Clark Gable, James Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Henry Fonda, Alan Ladd, directors John Ford, Frank Capra, William Wyler, and many more. Still, Hollywood ground out films throughout the war.