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Birdwell, Michael. "'The Devil's Tool': Alvin York and Sergeant York." Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images. Ed. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O'Connor. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1997. 121-41.
Exploring in depth how Jesse L. Lasky discovered and vowed to place York's story on the silver screen, Birdwell states, "for Lasky, York's heroism had a special resonance in the current troubled times. . . . York's life captured the American imagination not because of who he was but what he represented: a humble, self-reliant, God-fearing, peaceful man, who had fought his country's enemy only after great deliberation." Birdwell addresses the many tasks that Lasky had to overcome in gaining York's and the community of Pall Mall's trust, as well as the multiple rewrites of the Sergeant York script in order to gain York's approval, while still producing an accurate, but dramatized, story.
Branson, Clark. Howard Hawks: A Jungian Study. Santa Barbara: Garland-Clarke, 1987. 128-36.
Focused on scene analyses, Branson approaches Sergeant York by exploring its take on religion and how it intermingles with love, family, and drunken brawls all throughout the film. On one religious aspect of the film, Branson argues that the film advocates that "Religion converts to professionalism." Proving his point by analyzing York's religious conversion as well as his relationship with Pastor Pile, Branson then explores how religion played a key role in Alvin's courtship with Gracie Williams, and how Alvin's drunken ways were resolved with religion. Although a summary of key scenes in the film, Branson does discuss the importance of religion in catering and appealing to audiences.
Doherty, Thomas. Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. 100-3.
"The genre work of the film is twofold: (1) to re-mythologize World War I as a national crusade worthy of admiration, and (2) to reconcile the conflict between state (patriotism) and church (morality)." Analyzing that York's story cast on film leans more towards a spiritual biography than a war memoir, Doherty analyses scenes throughout the film that invoke biblical mythos.
Jacobs, Lewis. "World War II and the American Film." Cinema Journal 7 (1967-68): 1-21.
Analyzing films focused on the WWII agenda, potential of war, Nazis and Hitler, Lewis analyzes the effect of war films on the American public. He discusses the movement of films from being the first to portray socialism to the growth of focus on the need for readiness, as well as films that began to offer an outlet for America's transition into war. Approaching Sergeant York, Lewis believes the film to be "one of the most effective pictures in the movies march to war -- and perhaps the farthest removed from the typical recruiting poster." Lewis claims that Sergeant York came at a perfect time for America since the film had a "special relevance at a time when the nation was trying to balance a national antipathy to war with a conviction that the Axis had to be stopped." The film's call for preparedness and necessity for national defense rallied popular feeling for participation in the war.
Koppes, Clayton, and Gregory Black. Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990. 37-47.
Suggesting that Sergeant York "capped an evolution in American motion pictures, that took them from being fearful of political subjects to being aggressively interventionist," Clayton and Black offer their readers a take on the exploitation and Hollywood's boldness of portraying York on the silver screen. They explore the aftermath of the debut screening, which included lawsuits as well as the protest that the film was geared towards propaganda. Hollywood Goes To War produces a story of all outside events that occurred after the release of Sergeant York.
Lee, David D. "Appalachia on Film: The Making of Sergeant York." Southern Quarterly 19. 3-4 (1981): 211-12.
Rather than addressing and embodying to readers the story of York, Lee discusses his reflection of Pattullo's article and how it became a reflection of stereotyping the Appalachia people, like York. To Lee, York became the symbol of the patriotic hero, the rough and ready man who comes from the backwoods and serves his country proudly. He may not have a formal education, but he is a man of his own stamina. The article continues with the background of how the film came to be and the process of the real York's correspondence with the film. Lee reiterates the importance of the idea of the Appalachia in modern America. However, although the story was meant to be a story of the Appalachia people, the film Sergeant York is rather manipulated by stereotyping the Appalachia people to "arouse nationalistic fervor."
Steele, Richard. "The Great Debate: Roosevelt, the Media, and the Coming of the War, 1940-1941." Journal of American History 71.1 (1984): 69-92.
Major film, radio, and newspaper companies began to sway their audiences toward the opinion of possible intervention and preparedness for intervention. Roosevelt used the media to send out the message of the necessity of being prepared for war and also the need to trust the administration with any path that they chose to follow. It was Roosevelt's intention to use media as a style of representing Americanism as well as developing public awareness of the world crisis and confidence in the government's ability to meet it. The consent of film, newspaper, and radio during 1940-941 because of Roosevelt's need for support, as well as silencing any of those who undermined the administration produced a period of propaganda.
Toplin, Robert Brent. "Sergeant York: If That Is Propaganda, We Plead Guilty." History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996. 81-102,
Toplin argues that Sergeant York played an important role in swaying its American audiences towards the commitment of fighting for one's country as America approached the outbreak of World War WII: "They [Sergeant York writer and producers] recognized that the symbolism in York's story carried messages relevant to foreign policy issues of the day." Toplin explores in his essay the many steps it took to put York's famed heroic story on the silver screen, including the extensive bargaining with those who would be portrayed in the film as principal characters. Toplin also addresses the commitment on the set and script to keep the real York satisfied with having his own story told. Although numerous representations of Alvin's life, including his religious conversion and relationships with others were not portrayed as historically accurate, everything the film screened had York's approval. Toplin claims that "Sergeant York served as a powerful metaphor, showing how one young man's experience could represent a model for a nation struggling to decide what it should do about a serious international problem."
Wood, Robin. Howard Hawks. London: Secker & Warburg, 1968. 164-68.
"The reasons for the acclamation of Sergeant York in 1941 are obvious: its hero, a real-life figure who had captured or killed hundreds of Germans in the First World War while retaining his naïve idealism and remaining at heart a pacifist, seemed to reconcile the most contradictory moral impulses." Wood explores what attracts audiences to see York's story, which includes the respectability of Howard Hawks story as well as the moral respectability of its subject, York. However, Wood argues that it is these implications that "work consistently against the film's artistic success." The reconstruction of York's life to Wood wraps its audiences in beautiful scenes of the Tennessee mountain folk but also the depth and destruction of war: "Sergeant York is about York's religion forbids him to kill, and by making American deaths horrible and German deaths perfunctory or funny, Hawks cheats outrageously."

See Also

Birdwell, Michael E. Celluloid Soldiers: The Warner Bros. Campaign against Nazism. New York: New York UP, 1999.

Leab, Daniel J. "Viewing the War with the Brothers Warner." Film and the First World War. Ed. Karel Dibbets and Bert Hogenkamp. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 1995.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

"Sergeant York Surrenders." Time 1 April 1940: 69-70.

Smithouser, Bob. "Sergeant York." Movie Nights: 25 Movies to Spark Spiritual Discussions with Your Teen. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2002. 135-39.

Video/Audio Resources

Sergeant York: Of God and Country. Written, Directed and Produced by John Mulholland, 2006.
A DVD extra that is included on the second disk for Sergeant York: "This Moda Entertainment documentary . . . mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. It includes on camera interviews with authors Michael Birdwell and MZ Ribalow, actors June Lockhart and Joan Leslie, Gary Cooper's daughter Maria, and film historian Robert Osborne. The film chonicles how Alvin York's story was brought to the screen; and explores York's restrictions and requirements. The film follows casting decisions, war-related issues of the era and script development, performances, characters, shooting topics and production problems."

Online Resources

Boxwell, David. "Howard Hawks." Senses of Cinema.
Overview essay and filmography.
Mast, Gerald. "Howard Hawks." Film Reference.
Factual information and brief essay on the director.