Tom Murphy to deliver Honors Council Lecture series on American WWII films

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2010) — Hollywood played a critical role in supporting American morale during World War II, producing films that reinforced ideals about the nation’s identity and destiny.

J. Thomas Murphy, associate professor of history at Bemidji State University, will present the 1943 film “Bataan” and lecture on the ways Hollywood supported President Franklin Roosevelt’s promise of “absolute victory” for the Allies to conclude the fall portion of the University’s Honors Council Lecture series. The film will be shown Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m., and the lecture will be held Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. Both events will be held in Hagg-Sauer 112 on the Bemidji State campus, with free admission.

“Bataan,” directed by Tay Garnett and starring Robert Taylor, George Murphy and Desi Arnaz, tells the story of a group of 13 men during the U.S. Army’s final desperate defense of the Phillipines after the Japanese invasion. The men are chosen to blow up a bridge on the Bataan peninsula and prevent the Japanese from rebuilding it.

During Murphy’s Nov. 17 presentation, he will discuss “Bataan” and focus on other Hollywood films of the same era, including “Wake Island” from 1942, “So Proudly We Hail” from 1943, “Since You Went Away” from 1944, and the 1945 John Wayne film “Back to Bataan.” These films, and others like them, played a significant role in the American people’s belief in Roosevelt’s promise of victory during World War II.

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of history in his 10th year at Bemidji State. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois and served as an assistant editor on four volumes of the papers of Ulysses S. Grant. At Bemidji State, Murphy teaches courses in 19th and 20th Century United States history, including a history of the Vietnam War and a course on veterans in history.

The Honors Council Lecture Series is hosted by the Bemidji State University Honors Council. The council is the advisory group to the Honors Program comprised of 12 faculty members from all three of the University’s colleges. Student representatives also are elected to the council by their cohorts for one-year terms.

2010 Fall Honors Council Lecture Series remaining schedule
• Nov. 16, 6 p.m.: Film: “Baatan,” introduced by Tom Murphy, professor of history. Hagg-Sauer 112.
• Nov. 17, 7 p.m.: Tom Murphy, “Inevitable Triumph: World War II Films and the Idea of Victory.” Hagg-Sauer 112.

For more information about the Honors Council Lecture Series, please contact the honors program at (218) 755-3984.

• “Bataan” at