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Was Adolf Was Hitler a Christian? Decide for yourself. Watch this CBN report(video) http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/
HOLLYWOOD AND HITLER 1933-1939
THE ALCHEMIST AT WORK
HOLLYWOOD AND HITLER 1933-1939 By Thomas Doherty, Columbia University Press, 448pp, £24, ISBN 9780231163927
A crucial decade in Hollywood, the 1930s were preceded by the parallel crises of the coming of sound and the Wall Street Crash, and ended with the industry gearing up for a war that had begun in Europe in 1939 (and was named World War Two by a Time Inc. journalist immediately after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States and Japan joined the conflict). In his wide-ranging, scrupulously researched and highly entertaining study, Thomas Doherty, a professor of American Studies at Boston’s Brandeis University, addresses a central issue of this period: the effect on the American film industry of Hitler’s rise to power.
Although Doherty’s title announces the book as starting in 193 3, the year Hitler became Chancellor, he begins earlier by describing the special relationship of commercial rivalry, mutual respect and professional recruitment that brought such filmmakers as Ernst Lubitsch, Paul Leni and F.W. Murnau to Hollywood in the 1920s, and the important role that the German Jewish immigrant and pioneer movie mogul Carl Laemmle played in forging links with his native Germany as a generous post-war philanthropist. This link was first threatened in 1930, when Laemmle’s All Quiet on the Western Front, a special project that his supporters believed would make him a serious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, was driven out of German cinemas after a campaign of disruption by Nazi brownshirts. This event was masterminded by Goebbels and the protestors’ prophetic battle cry, as Doherty points out, was not “Amerikanfilm!” but “Judenfilm!”
An immediate effect of the creation of the Third Reich in 1933 was a vindictive institutionalised anti-Semitism. Within weeks, 296 of the 310 Jews employed by UFA, the country’s dominant film studio, were fired. The vast majority went into exile, many of the most talented making their way to Hollywood. Censorship in Germany became arbitrarily draconian. Foreign films with Jewish producers or featuring undesirable gentiles like Marlene Dietrich and Charlie Chaplin were banned; imported pictures were subject to special taxes. Hollywood, its studios dominated by Jewish immigrants or their immediate descendants, was slow to act. The movie moguls were convinced that Hitler would soon be exposed as a charlatan but also fearful of jeopardising their investment or fanning the flames of anti-Semitism, so they did nothing that might offend the new regime, playing down anything that might be identifiably Jewish. The Production Code, accepted in 1930 but not enforced until 1934, was under the control of the prominent Catholic layman Joseph Breen, and he was determined to protect the industry and public morality at all costs.
I Was a Captive of the Nazi Party, an ineffectual low-budget exploitation docudrama from a Poverty Row studio, managed to get a production seal. But the Breen Office, under constant pressure from the suave Dr Georg Gyssling, the German consul in Los Angeles, strangled or neutered any potential major projects at birth until 1939, when a carefully documented Warner Brothers production, Confessions of a Nazi Spy (publicised as “the picture that calls a swastika a swastika”) proved irresistible. Warners had been the only studio to take a firm stand against Nazism. Led by the outspoken Harry and Jack Warner, who were Jewish, the studio broke off relations with Germany in r933 and subsequently produced a series of influential, Oscar-winning shorts on patriotic themes.
The chief opposition, however, came from the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (HANL), an alliance of actors and filmmakers whose figureheads, the colourful left-wing screenwriters Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, initially received advice from the charismatic Soviet agent and arch intriguer Otto Katz. Coming soon after the moguls’ unscrupulous campaign against the socialist author Upton Sinclair in California’s 1934 gubernatorial election, HANL helped politicise Tinseltown, though as late as 1937 Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis accepted invitations to an event welcoming Mussolini’s son to Los Angeles.
Doherty does not restrict himself to Hollywood. He’s instructive about pro-German audiences in the big cities (especially New York) and the films they saw, and he’s dug up revealing information on the popular reception of newsreels. These usually took a week to reach America, and Doherty considers them to have been “more lap dogs than watch dogs” until they were challenged to do their journalistic duty by Henry Luce’s bold March of Time documentaries. He also has a significant chapter on the coverage of the Spanish Civil War and the impact of the Soviet anti-Nazi film Professor Mamlock (which didn’t need Breen’s seal of approval).
Just as he has a prologue about the pre-Hitler years, Doherty ends his valuable book with a brief, suggestive coda on the wartime cinema, the continuing cult of Nazi chic in historical films and some reflections on Inglourious Basterds. With a certain ironic asperity he describes Tarantino’s film as “an affectionate homage to the many hours of cinematic pleasure the Nazis have given moviegoers”.
Confessions of a Nazi Spy
French, P. (2013). HOLLYWOOD AND HITLER 1933-1939. Sight & Sound, 23(8), 105.