We hear less about the effects of the powerful relationship that has grown over the years between the Pentagon and the Hollywood studios, a partnership that not only can save millions of dollars for filmmakers and produce fine recruiting propaganda for Washington, but can twist history and reality to produce the ultimate in international spin.
Among those with an opinion in Operation Hollywood are Australian director Phil Noyce, Phil Strub from the US Department of Defense, historian Lawrence Suid and Joe Trento, author and president of the anti-war Public Education Centre. This, they all agree, is a world where lines, plots and nationalities are changed so that film producers can gain access to expensive military hardware.
In the 1995 James Bond movie Goldeneye, for example, the original script had a US Navy admiral betraying state secrets. This was changed to make the traitor a member of the French navy. After that the military’s co-operation was forthcoming. Pacull and Robb takes us from the pedantry to the powerful in examining the changes to scripts. They list the producers and the movies that have fallen into line and show how the military’s script editors work. Interestingly, it’s not the censors who come under fire here quite so much as those co-operative, self-censoring filmmakers.
Not that the big screen is alone. Among the early changes we hear about is a scene from an episode of the children’s television series Lassie in which a light aircraft crashing in the woods concerned the Pentagon. A change to the script was called for. The military didn’t want children, the subject of its future recruitment drives, to get the idea that the US Army produced faulty equipment.