This book provides an overview of the efforts of the Warner Brothers’ studio to aid in the war effort, namely by campaigning against Nazism. Birdwell examines the complex relationship between the Warner Brothers Studio and the US government in promoting the war effort.
Birdwell’s discussion frames the effectiveness of the “Private Snafu” series in the context of other films of its time which sought to promote the US war effort. The book provides a good understanding of mainstream propaganda films which were accessible to a broader audience and how they are different from the “Private Snafu” series.
This anthology of over 100 years of American films includes a famous short from the "Private Snafu" series of twenty-six animated short films made by Warner Brothers. These films were shown exclusively to servicemen and served as educational government "posters" for soldiers through the use of negative examples. The stories were created by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and the U.S. Army's Information and Education Division, with composer Carl Stalling. The featured film in this anthology is "Private Snafu: Spies" (1943), which tells the story of a soldier, Private Snafu, whose negligence and spilling of state secrets lead to his destruction at the hands of Nazi enemies. The short successfully promotes the idea of "loose lips sink ships" through humor and an engaging and easy-to-understand story line. There was a mutual relationship between the government and film studios and at the same time the state department also strategized trade agreements related to film in a way that bolstered the industry.
“Spies” serves as a good example of how “Private Snafu” was an effective propaganda vehicle that results from the collaboration between government and the film industry during World War II.