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American ShowmanSamuel "Roxy" Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935$
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Ross Melnick

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159050

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159050.001.0001

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Movie House as Recruiting Center

Movie House as Recruiting Center

Roxy, World War I Documentaries, and the Engineering of Consent (1917–1918)

(p.141) 3. Movie House as Recruiting Center
American Showman

Ross Melnick

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses Roxy's role in facilitating cooperation between Washington and the commercial film industry following the United States' entrance into World War I on April 6, 1917. He produced and exhibited propaganda films that helped link Washington's predominately American-born, Protestant establishment with a small coterie of Jews and immigrants in New York who had begun to dominate American film exhibition, production, and distribution by 1917. He utilized his power and prestige within the film industry, as well as the captive audiences at his Rialto and Rivoli theaters, to boost military enlistment and patriotic fervor among the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who attended his shows and read his pronouncements in industry trade journals and daily newspapers. He also directed and edited two documentaries for the Marine Corps and edited one of three official feature-length compilation documentary films for the American government's Committee on Public Information. These films were distributed to theaters nationwide (and overseas) and were presented by Roxy at the Rialto and Rivoli alongside pro-war newsreels and patriotic stage shows that transformed him into one of the most influential American film propagandists of the era.

Keywords:   World War I, motion picture industry, propaganda films, patriotism, military enlistment, documentary films

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