World War II/Sahara - Alec Charais
What made Sahara such an effective propaganda movie was how it depicted America's openness towards other ethnicities on film, while in reality this was not the case at the time. When coming across the Italian POW for the first time, Sgt. Joe Gunn (what a great name for an American military commander!), referred to him as a "bowl of spaghetti". Yet, when forced to determine whether or not to leave this prisoner to die, Gunn being the noble American he was, changed his mind and allowed the Italian to ride with them despite their low water rations.
This theme was displayed from the American's perception of the Nazi's point-of-view when they shot down and captured an attacking Nazi pilot. When Gunn directed the black Sudanese soldier to search the Nazi prisoner, the Nazi did not want to be touched by such an "inferior" race. It can be argued that the Nazi's believed that all races other than their own were "inferior", regardless of skin color. Sahara further displayed the Nazi's quest for world domination when the Italian prisoner, who grew to have compassion for the Americans, would not go along with the Nazi's attempt to escape. Once an enemy, the Itallian had no quarrel with the men who ulitmately spared his life.
Although Sahara was successful in portraying the pro-American ideology, what I noticed most while viewing this movie was the portrayal of men in it's time. During wartime in the early 1940's, American women and minorities stepped into the workforce in roles previously held by men. This allowed American industry to support the war effort as companies such as Avon altered cosmetic manufacturing into producing munitions. This labor movement, however, changed American industry, society, and culture forever as the while male would no longer dominate the ideal that they were the only worthy race or gender.
We see this evolution in recent films such as Courage Under Fire and Crimson Tide today where the role of women and minorities have become more central and representative of today's culture. Just as it was socially acceptable to see Humphrey Bogart dominating the screen in Sahara in 1943, it is just as acceptable for us to see Meg Ryan and Denzel Washington in the lead role today.