Date of Completion

Spring 4-6-2012

Thesis Advisor(s)

Professor Stephen Dyson

Honors Major

Political Science


American Politics | Comparative Politics


Government involvement in the American film industry during the Second World War and its aftermath restricted filmmakers’ ability to freely express their opinions on American foreign policy. Specifically, filmmakers were restricted to producing films that bolstered America’s image as a positive force abroad, a democratic beacon of hope. But in our contemporary political environment, why are directors able to insert either pro- or anti-war messages in their films? I hypothesize that the decrease in government oversight of the American film industry and its use as a government propaganda machine has allowed filmmakers to illustrate a wide range of opinions on foreign policy issues through pro and anti-war films. Proving this causal relationship highlights how today’s filmmakers are able to react to the United States’ overseas policies instead of regurgitating information at the behest of our government. The dual existence of films that highlight the extraordinary efforts of our armed forces and films that showcase the pitfalls and lack of accountability in U.S. foreign policy serves as evidence to substantiate my claims that the American film industry is now host to open-minded filmmakers with broad ranges of opinions. Tracing the evolution of the film industry’s production codes and censorship guidelines after the termination of the Office of War Information in1945 will provide answers as to why filmmakers exercised more freedom in the later part of the Vietnam War and the Iraq War compared to World War II.