Movies, specifically Hollywood movies, are the greatest machinery of propaganda the world has ever known.
So powerful is Hollywood and its ability to convey a message that in modern times America has never achieved victory in war without Hollywood’s support. When the Hollywood community turns against an American conflict, defeat is assured. Witness Vietnam, the first casualty of Hollywood’s ideological wrath. The Jane Fonda, Jon Voight vehicle Coming Home (1978) was a turning point in Hollywood’s hard left turn, a film that convinced large segments of the American public that Vietnam was a war whose moral foundation, the fight against Communist dictatorship, was rendered invisible and replaced by a narrative of veterans coming home broken in body and spirit, victims of an inchoate American imperialism.
Hollywood’s propaganda machine reaches past the content of movies into the very lives of movie stars. Certain roles register powerfully with the public in a manner impossible to predict. These performances end up defining an actor in a manner that resonates so profoundly with the audience that any deviation from that persona can thoroughly shatter an image—and career—beyond repair.
Perhaps the most fascinating example is the career of Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982).