Thesis (M.A., History) -- University of Idaho, 2017 | This study explores the relationship between war movies and their effect on American culture during the years 1925-1941. As white American men confronted the changes taking place in the twentieth-century, they turned to new forms of idealized identity—specifically, Hollywood representations of heroic masculinity. In the years between WWI and WWII, as white men faced challenges to their cultural hegemony, American men sought nostalgic forms of idealized masculinity through Hollywood heroes.
Hollywood’s war genre provided audiences with ideal versions of masculinity via men onscreen. Soldiers in movies became the epitome of masculinity and American identity in a transitional era of “modern” values—combining Victorian and twentieth century definitions of American manhood. The exceptional and masculine narrative in Hollywood movies shaped how audiences reacted to onscreen heroes and the history portrayed. Spectators fashioned identities through their fondness of actor’s roles and used those identities in their everyday lives.