9. Soldiers, sailors, and Marines watched films which featured their own efforts
Motion pictures often serve as a means of escapism for the audience, a temporary suspension of the real world in which it exists. For troops far from home, such a respite, albeit it a temporary one, is wholly understandable. But the most popular films among the troops often were about the war effort, in all theaters. Rather than films depicting the home front, 1943’s most popular among those in uniform were; Guadalcanal Diary, Crash Dive, Destination Tokyo, Air Force, and Sahara. In contrast, the most popular film in North America in 1943 was This is the Army, a musical, followed by For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Song of Bernadette. Clearly, the men and growing number of women in uniform were interested in what the civilian population was being told about their efforts, as well as in what was going on in other theaters of the war. The classic Casablanca was released the same year.
Those servicemen not yet overseas, still in America for training or in support roles, were also acknowledged by the film industry. Free passes for those attending films in uniform began before the United States entered the war, and remained common throughout the years of combat. The Stage Door Canteens across the country, and the Hollywood Canteen in particular, also catered to servicemen with free refreshments and entertainment. The Hollywood Canteen alone entertained over 1 million servicemen, most bound for the Pacific Theater, in its first year of operation. Home-based theaters also became a major outlet for the sales of Victory Bonds during the war, with movies exhorting viewers to buy bonds in their credits, and sales personnel available in the lobby. The motion picture industry became as important to morale at home as it was at the fronts, and Hollywood adapted accordingly.