For the Seventh Annual (2013) Hudson-EPPC Summer Movie Series, James Bowman, Resident Scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and movie critic for The American Spectator, presented six movies on the theme “Why We Fight: War Movies and War, Then and Now” — and examined how American culture has influenced and been influenced by World War II and subsequent conflicts. From a focus on patriotism, duty and community, all of which require people to submerge their individuality “for the duration” and for the greater good, we can see how movies will change their emphasis to focus on the psychology of individual soldiers and the trauma they must endure. The result, even in movies that are not overtly anti-war, is a questioning not only of the patriotic imperative but of the military culture itself—something which has come to seem both esoteric and unnecessary.
All movies in the series were screened on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between June 19 and July 24, 2013, at Hudson Institute’s Washington headquarters. Each session began with a brief introduction, and each film was followed by a discussion with the audience.
The June 26, 2013 screening was They Were Expendable (1945), directed by John Ford, written by William L. White, Frank Wead and Jan Lustig, and starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt, Ward Bond, Marshall Thompson, and Cameron Mitchell.