October 1 – December 13, 2003
This exhibition, based on the collection of the USC Warner Bros. Archives, examined the marriage between purveyors of filmic culture and the American political machine. Armed with one of Hollywood’s most powerful studios, the Warner brothers fought a personal crusade against Hitler with propagandistic films made for both public consumption and exclusive military use.
Photos, historical documents, and animation art, along with selected animated shorts that continuously screened in the Fisher Gallery Reading Room, demonstrated the power of cinema as a propagandistic tool. By tracing the connection between films like Confessions of a Nazi Spy (which prompted the 1941 Senate hearings), Sergeant York, Mission to Moscow, and Casablanca, Warner’s War revealed the transition of feature films from independent political tools to government supported propaganda.
Warner Bros.’ Private SNAFU, an animation series made for military personnel, lays bare the symbiotic association between cinematic culture and politics.