February 29, 2024

The Navy’s trying to figure out, ‘how can you expand your reach.’ … And in all the agreements that they forge with the studios, at no point is the Navy supposed to be paying for any of this

WAR ROOM welcomes Ryan Wadle from Air University to discuss the history of how the war film industry emerged out of the interwar period. Focusing on the Navy, he relates how the military’s relationship with Hollywood began as an opportunity to enhance public relations at a time when the service could only devote a couple individuals to the task. As naval films grew in popularity and Hollywood began investing in them, challenges arose such as questions over operations security, accuracy in the depictions of military life, and commercial pressures. What are the implications for the relationship between the military and Hollywood today? WAR ROOM podcast editor Jacqueline E. Whitt moderates.



Ryan Wadle is an Associate Professor of Comparative Military Studies at the eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education and author of Selling Seapower: Public Relations and the U.S. Navy 1917-1941. Jacqueline E. Whitt is Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College and the WAR ROOM Podcast Editor. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo: Cast members Charlie Hunnam (R) and Rinko Kikuchi pose at the premiere of “Pacific Rim” at Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California July 9, 2013.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni


  1. Unfortunately, it seems that there are fewer and fewer readers today as the public looks for entertainment from an increasing number of sources through different video modes, including phones. Just look at how local libraries have changed. School students will seek out a movie of a book, thinking that Hollywood would follow what was written in it (which they rarely do).
    There is also another problem with movies – it often seems that the writers of many movies don’t know much of how the armed services individually operate, how battles or engagements actually occurred, etc. Of course, some of this might be because they are trying to express a political point. Some films that have had a service advisor assigned have apparently had one who missed a lot of things that should have been corrected before the movie was released.
    It’s better for students, the armed services, and the public at-large to learn from either those who “were there” or from those who know/charged with knowing than having fiction dressed up as reality.
    BTW, Don Prudhomme’s funny car, sponsored by the Army in the ’70s was great Army PR for a time when the Army was downsizing while trying to still enlist new people (VOLAR). It was a different time and one where drag racing was still a popular outdoor sport that people attended – there are fewer places today.

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