During WWII Lana Turner frying a steak was entertainment
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1982 documentary "Showbiz Goes to War" looks at the entertainment industry during World War II. While a few movie stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable actually enlisted in the military to right in Europe, most celebrities found other ways to help the war effort. Hosted by David Steinberg this 87-minute documentary covers celebrities making propaganda films, selling war bonds, doing "Command Performance" radio programs, and entertaining the troops overseas in U.S.O. shows. "Showbiz Goes to War" emphasizes the importance of the entertainment industry to keeping up morale, both for the troops overseas and for the civilians on the homefront. The documentary is made up almost completely of film clips of the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, and Donald Duck. Some of the clips are from film musicals (e.g., "This is the Army"), but a lot of the musical numbers come from radio shows with Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and the Andrews Sisters. Pin-up girls like Betty Grable also get their due. But when Lana Turner complies with a request by the troops out in the Pacific to fry a sirloin steak for them on the radio so they can listen to it sizzle, you really get a sense for what it was like during a war that was not carried live on cable TV.While the attitude of the nation united in the war effort is certainly nice to see, the documentary does not ignore the darker side of the propaganda represented by the racial caricatures in cartoons featuring beloved characters (e.g., Donald Duck paying his taxes to support the war) as well as Disney's celebrated "Victory Through Air Power" series. Watching "Showbiz Goes to War" will probably inspire you to go check out some of these works in their complete form; this is a very informative film the entertainment industry during World War II. Steinberg is an odd choice for narrator (he brings nothing to the subject matter), but since he is the narrator on other documentaries in this series (e.g., "Showbiz Ballyhoo), I assume he got the job by default. Note: This DVD version is devoid of extras, so expect nothing beyond the documentary directed by Norman and Gail Bison Sedawie."