Back when I was a kid, the movie theatre news reels, which appeared on the screen between feature film repeats or between double feature movie shows, was our “television” world news of the day. In fact, during the pre-television days of World War II there was a movie theatre in downtown Chicago that ran nothing but continuous news reels that were updated hour by hour.

Adolph Hitler’s raised and extended one-arm salute appeared frequently on screen as did Mussolini’s scowl and jutting jaw of theatrical defiance. Winston Churchill liked to chew on a cigar while Joseph Stalin, who had a full head of black hair and a thick black mustache to match, preferred to appear as a gentleman with pipe. A balding Hideki Tojo always stared out of round black rim glasses and wore so many oversized starburst military medals that his left shoulder sagged. Franklin Roosevelt, who smoked cigarettes in a long thin holder with his head thrown back, was President of the United States at the time Pearl Harbor was bombed but died in office before World War II ended. Ironically, non-smoker President Harry Truman authorized dropping the atomic bombs to finally end the war in a billow of smoke and flames. These World War II politicos are long gone.

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