War in Peace
War in Peace
The American Legion and the Continuing Service of Film
The American Legion emerged in March 1919, in the immediate aftermath of world war, a point at which the focus of conservative discourse and government policy shifted from overseas campaigns to domestic threats, from military to political targets. This chapter, by Tom Rice, examines the myriad ways in which the hugely influential American Legion used film at this critical juncture, extending military activities and imperatives into the postwar nation. Whether appropriating wartime government films; becoming an influential and respected voice on film reform; or—after the establishment of a designated film service in 1921—producing, distributing, and exhibiting movies, the American Legion used film to mold American citizens and to visualize, project, and shape the postwar nation. The American Legion’s initial uses of film reveal an industry—and a nation—challenged and torn apart by anxieties about immigration and foreign threats and by a wider battle over American national identity.
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