National Archives Commemorates Memorial Day with WWII Film Screening
Press Release · Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Washington, DC…On Friday, May 25, at noon the National Archives will commemorate Memorial Day with a special screening from its motion picture holdings of five segments from the WWII series The Army-Navy Screen Magazine. Produced by the Signal Corps’ Army Pictorial Service under the supervision of Frank Capra, The Army-Navy Screen Magazine was a biweekly news, information, and entertainment short subject designed for servicemen and screened in all military motion picture theaters. The program will be approximately 75 minutes.
The screening is free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater located in the National Archives Building on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC. Use the National Archives Building Special Events entrance on the corner of 7th Street and Constitution Avenue. For information on National Archives Public Programs, call 202-357-5000, or view our Calendar of Events online.
The Army-Navy Screen Magazine
The Army-Navy Screen Magazine was shown before the feature film in all military motion picture theaters during the Second World War. While the purpose of the series was primarily to educate, the producers recognized that they must also succeed in entertaining a paying GI audience who had come to see a first-run Hollywood feature. Typically, each 20-minute episode consisted of four or five segments featuring stories about the home front, news about major events of the war, an animated cartoon, and a variety show with entertainers like Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Lena Horne.
Yet, when it had to, the Screen Magazine could deal with more serious topics as well. The series became the eyes and ears of its soldier audience as it covered such news events as D-Day, Germany’s surrender, the death of FDR, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
By the end of the war, the Army-Navy Screen Magazine reached an enormous weekly audience of 4.2 million. It had become for American soldiers all over the world a communal experience that greatly influenced their perception of the war. Although the Screen Magazine was, of course, an instrument of official policy, its honest no-nonsense approach won it the respect and affection of its GI audience.
Segments to be shown include:
Command Performance, U.S.A (1944)
Bob Hope hosts this all-star program featuring Betty Hutton, Judy Garland, and Lana Turner.
The Story of Cpl. Jolley (1945)
A GI, who lost an arm during a Japanese aerial attack on Corregidor, narrates the story of the Battan death march and the return of American prisoners to their families.
In this program intended primarily for black soldiers, Lena Horne and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson sing about “consequences” from their hit film Cabin In the Sky.
The most popular feature of the Screen Magazine was the cartoon character Private Snafu, created by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and animated by Warner Brothers. Here, Snafu learns that the slip of a lip can indeed sink a ship as he drunkenly “tells all” to the wrong person.
Mail Call (1944)
This filmed version of the Armed Forces Radio program features a song by Dorothy Lamour and a comedy routine by Abbott and Costello.
# # #
For Press information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.
This page was last reviewed on August 15, 2016.
Contact us with questions or comments.