Byron Rogers

When Mussolini came knocking on Hollywood’s door

A review of Mark Harris’ Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. The brave irrational filmmakers who brought the war home

Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon survive the Blitz in Mrs Miniver (1942).Churchill reckoned it was ‘worth six war divisions’ and Goebbels considered it an ‘exemplary propaganda film’, but to Lillian Hellman it was‘a piece of junk’ [Getty Images/Shutterstock/iStock/Alamy]

John Ford was the first of the five famous Hollywood film directors to go to war. He went expecting to get given a sword, which he could then brandish. After all, he knew about swords; they were things that came out of props baskets in his cavalry epics, but that was in films.

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