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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Two Reels For Recruiting


Eyes Of The Navy (1940) Gets Us Prepared

Eyes Of The Navy Is Sold Like a Feature For NYC Open
How important were short subjects? Well, Metro held a press preview for this one at the Egyptian Theatre on 10/16/40 and got word to trades that it would premiere 11/6 with The Long Voyage Home at Bev Hill's prestige Fine Arts venue. These two reels served deeper purpose than mere filler, Eyes Of The Navy being frankly described as a "recruitment short" to swell number of Navy fliers. A "rush" order of prints were dispatched to the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Fleet "to be shown to personnel of the battle wagons," according to Variety's 10/18/40 report. As to persuasive effect, I'll just say that given 18 year old status in 1940, plus eagerness to get in on fighting sure to come, may well have put me at recruitment's door a morning after Fine Arts helping. How many enlistees can we score up to shorts like Eyes Of The Navy? Could be it was Hollywood that won us the war. No lure was greater for boys in doubt as to a move after school. Pilots are shown globe-hopping and luau'ing in tropical paradise. Flight instruction with deck landings made civilain jobs look strictly bush league, those white uniforms spic and movie star-span.


Lavish Lobby Display at Loew's Criterion for Eyes Of The Navy
The draft was on by the time Eyes Of The Navy opened. Conscription saw personnel headed off Hollywood lots to serve, this still a year ahead of Pearl Harbor. Variety pointed out that over ninety-two percent of prospects were married with kids, thus exempt thanks to a recent ruling by the draft administration. The trade said large number of "benedicts" (men w/dependents) were result of studios paying "wages sufficiently high to permit marriage and the rearing of families." I'd not be surprised if Eyes Of The Navy tempted some of these from hearth and home. Boy-to-man transition looks overnight, as indeed it likely was. We forget how young warriors coming to this conflict were. Emphasized heaviest was fact that recruits went by name, not number (this in contrast to nations we'd soon be engaging), with individual initiative valued highest. No bull-necked drill sergeants to slow progression from enlistment to cockpits. Did boys in uniform ever look back rueful on Eyes Of The Navy and other pep rallies that got them there? The short is available as DVD extra with 1940's Pride and Prejudice.

1 Comments:

Blogger b piper said...

"We forget how young warriors coming to this conflict were."

As has always been the case. Old men start the wars then send kids off to fight them.

12:31 PM  

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