After World War II, 1940’s peacetime Hollywood required a little something old and a little something new to keep the attention of moviegoers. During the war Hollywood had experimented, and found success, with the production of war themed pictures as well as more mature films with new topical subject matter.
There were predictions that motion pictures would, and could, never be the same as before the war. These predictions would prove to be false. The publics emotional and ideological fatigue over the war was being replaced with a peacetime euphoria that was bringing with it a building boom, new cars, and the rapid spread of television across the country.
It was time for Hollywood to get back to the basics of what the public most desired in movies. The war had reignited a taste for violence in film and the appeal of sex had never really disappeared.
In good times or bad, Hollywood had, for a period of forty years, depended on Westerns. The popularity of this genre would insure their opening in no less than 6,000 theaters. There was only one exception to this; the major first-run theaters in big cities were rarely included when premiering a Western.
This would change with the emergence of John Wayne who was rapidly becoming America’s favorite male actor. Wayne’s natural appeal as a western hero made the opening of a new Western, with him as the star, every bit as popular as any other first-run film.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s the Hollywood Musical would flourish. Perhaps the purest form of movie entertainment, the public couldn’t get enough. Script’s were usually light, and while there may actually be a story to follow, it was the singing and dancing that audiences loved.
Film studio’s also loved them and would often bring back old songs and routines from vaudeville, polish them up a bit, and present them to a very receptive audience. Quite possibly the greatest song-and-dance man ever, Fred Astaire, who had been officially retired, repeatedly returned to the screen to show the modern audience what great dancing is all about.
There was no mistaking the fact that what had worked for Hollywood before would work again. The basic entertainment value of Westerns, Musicals, Comedy, Science Fiction, and those films considered to be pure Biblical spectacle, such as Samson and Delilah, and The Ten Commandments, were money in the bank.
After the war there was much less need for depressing recreations of wartime and troubling social issues. Action, adventure, and fun were back on the screen as 1940’s Hollywood had returned to entertainment as the basic ingredient for profitable film making and audiences were loving each and every minute.