Selling Opinions - Making Policy

Hollywood and the Cold War

Private organizations like the NCFE were not the only ones to work with the government to influence public opinion. In the 1950's and 1960's the Department of Defense cooperated extensively with Hollywood to support war movies which they deemed useful to the war preparation effort. The goal was to prepare American society for armed conflicts that might result from the Cold War through "good war movies," like Sands of Iwo Jima. The Department of Defense asserted that the "Good War Movie" was "in the best interest of national defense and the public good". To promote cooperation, on February 17, 1954 the Department of Defense issued Instruction 5122.3, "Policy for Extending Cooperation of the Departments of Defense on Commercial Production of Motion Pictures including those for Television".


Hollywood and the Cold War

Appendix, Instruction 5122.3

The "good" war movie was supposed to depict the American forces as just and humane. This resulted in the ommitance of torture scenes from early war movies, which focused instead on the idea of patriotic regeneration through conquering a frontier from warped, evil attackers.

Non-war movies also carried anti-Communist sentiments. The science fiction film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," for example, has been read by many critics as an allegory for the Communist threat endangering individuality and freedom.

'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)