Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Naut(ical) Flix

Almost 80 years before the Navy squared off against aliens in the movie Battleship (2012),
they brought the fight to King Kong (below) in 1933. (Photos: Wikia.com/ USNI News)

Since before The Fighting Seabees and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo debuted 70 years ago, Hollywood has played a critical role in crafting the popular perception of the United States Navy. With the release of recent films such as Act of Valor, Lone Survivor, and even Battleship, it is evident that the relationship between Hollywood and the U.S. Navy is still going strong.  This fact is shown by the location of the Navy Office of Information West (NAVINFOWEST) in Los Angeles.  NAVINFOWEST’s purpose is to assist the film industry in making movies involving the United States Navy.  In addition, the office maintains and develops contacts with the entertainment industry for the purpose of sharing the military's story, as well as facilitating any film and television messages relevant to the military.  Visit their website or Facebook page for more information on how the US Navy is working with the film industry.

Even the Hampton Roads Naval Museum makes use of NAVINFOWEST when we receive film requests. All production companies must forward their requests through NAVINFOWEST for final approval before we can coordinate film projects on-site.  Decisions are made in accordance with NAVINFOWEST’s mission to “enhance public awareness and further the accurate portrayal of the U.S. Navy’s latest technologies, ships and highly trained personnel.”

If you are interested in reading more about the relationship between Hollywood and our military, take a look at books from film and military historian Lawrence Suid.  Dr. Suid’s first book, Guts & Glory (Addison-Wesley, 1978), became the definitive study of the relationship between the film industry and the armed services.  The University Press of Kentucky published a revised, expanded edition of the book in June 2002, which carries the story from the Biograph Company's Navy films shown at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair through Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers.  Dr. Suid also wrote Sailing on the Silver Screen (The Naval Institute Press, 1996), which focused on the symbiotic relationship between the United States Navy and the motion picture industry. 

What is your favorite Navy film?

(This blog post was written by HRNM Public Relations Coordinator Susanne Greene.)

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