World War I and Specials

Brian Taves

in Thomas Ince

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813134222
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135939 | DOI:
 World War I and Specials

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The conflict's impact had already been felt in a number of Ince's films for Triangle, most prominently Civilization (1916) and The Zeppelin's Last Raid (1917). These had charted the nation's progression from an initially pacifist response to siding with the Allies. The studio and its output of films were both affected by the war, and Ince announced that any member of his staff who entered the service would have either their same position given to them upon their return, or at least one with an equivalent salary. But Ince's greatest contribution to the war effort may have been in developing a way of using film as a reminder of home and family to the troops overseas. He conceived a plan to use his organization to place movies of home on the screens of theaters, training camps, and YMCA huts overseas. A sum of $50,000 was spent taking panoramic shots of local people in various cities, in addition to familiar streets and landmarks, which would be shown specifically to soldiers from that region. Newspapers, military, and civic officials provided enthusiastic cooperation. Ince called them “Smiles Films,” and with the series titles “Miles of Smiles” and “Wives and Sweethearts of Soldiers Abroad,” the name stuck; soldiers saw group shots and close-ups of loved ones or relatives holding signs, and even babies born since their departure. After the war the films were to be returned to Ince so he could donate them to the cities where they were shot for preservation in the years to come.

Keywords: Thomas Ince; motion pictures; World War I; Smiles Films; troops

Chapter.  5311 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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