To continue doing business in Germany after Hitler's ascent to power, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films that attacked the Nazis or condemned Germany's persecution of Jews. Ben Urwand reveals this bargain for the first time—a "collaboration" (Zusammenarbeit) that drew in a cast of characters ranging from notorious German political leaders such as Goebbels to Hollywood icons such as Louis B. Mayer.
At the center of Urwand's story is Hitler himself, who was obsessed with movies and recognized their power to shape public opinion. In December 1930, his Party rioted against the Berlin screening of All Quiet on the Western Front, which led to a chain of unfortunate events and decisions. Fearful of losing access to the German market, all of the Hollywood studios started making concessions to the German government, and when Hitler came to power in January 1933, the studios—many of which were headed by Jews—began dealing with his representatives directly.
Urwand shows that the arrangement remained in place through the 1930s, as Hollywood studios met regularly with the German consul in Los Angeles and changed or canceled movies according to his wishes. Paramount and Fox invested profits made from the German market in German newsreels, while MGM financed the production of German armaments. Painstakingly marshaling previously unexamined archival evidence, The Collaboration raises the curtain on a hidden episode in Hollywood—and American—history.
Exceptionally popular during their time, the spectacular American action film serials of the 1910s featured exciting stunts, film tricks, and effects set against the background of modern technology, often starring resourceful female heroines who displayed traditionally male qualities such as endurance, strength, and authority. The most renowned of these "serial queens" was Pearl White, whose career as the adventurous character Pauline developed during a transitional phase in the medium's evolving production strategies, distribution and advertising patterns, and fan culture. In this volume, an international group of scholars explores how American serials starring Pearl White and other female stars impacted the emerging cinemas in the United States and abroad. Contributors investigate the serial genre and its narrative patterns, marketing, and cultural reception, and historiographic importance, with essays on Pearl White's life on and off the screen as well as the "serial queen" genre in Western and Eastern Europe, India, and China.
Contributors are Weihong Bao, Rudmer Canjels, Marina Dahlquist, Monica Dall'Asta, Kevin B. Johnson, Christina Petersen, and Rosie Thomas.
From the turn of the twentieth century through the late 1950s, Havana was a locus for American movie stars, with glamorous visitors including Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Marlon Brando. In fact, Hollywood was seemingly everywhere in pre-Castro Havana, with movie theaters three to a block in places, widely circulated silver screen fanzines, and terms like “cowboy” and “gangster” entering Cuban vernacular speech. Hollywood in Havana uses this historical backdrop as the catalyst for a startling question: Did exposure to half a century of Hollywood pave the way for the Cuban Revolution of 1959?
Megan Feeney argues that the freedom fighting extolled in American World War II dramas and the rebellious values and behaviors seen in postwar film noir helped condition Cuban audiences to expect and even demand purer forms of Cuban democracy and national sovereignty. At the same time, influential Cuban intellectuals worked to translate Hollywood ethics into revolutionary rhetoric—which, ironically, led to pointed critiques and subversions of the US presence in Cuba. Hollywood in Havana not only expands our notions of how American cinema was internalized around the world—it also broadens our view of the ongoing history of US-Cuban interactions, both cultural and political.
In the 1920s, as American films came to dominate Mexico's cinemas, many of its cultural and political elites feared that this "Yanqui invasion" would turn Mexico into a cultural vassal of the United States. In Making Cinelandia, Laura Isabel Serna contends that Hollywood films were not simply tools of cultural imperialism. Instead, they offered Mexicans on both sides of the border an imaginative and crucial means of participating in global modernity, even as these films and their producers and distributors frequently displayed anti-Mexican bias. Before the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Mexican audiences used their encounters with American films to construct a national film culture. Drawing on extensive archival research, Serna explores the popular experience of cinemagoing from the perspective of exhibitors, cinema workers, journalists, censors, and fans, showing how Mexican audiences actively engaged with American films to identify more deeply with Mexico.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, America imagined itself young and in love in Europe. And Hollywood films of the era reflected this romantic allure. From a young and naïve Audrey Hepburn falling in love with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday to David Lean’s Summertime, featuring Katherine Hepburn’s sexual adventure in Venice, these glossy travelogue romances were shot on location, and established an exciting new genre for Hollywood.
As Robert Shandley shows in Runaway Romances, these films were not only indicative of the ideology of the American-dominated postwar world order, but they also represented a shift in Hollywood production values. Eager to capture new audiences during a period of economic crisis, Hollywood’s European output utilized the widescreen process to enhance cinematic experience. The films—To Catch a Thief, Three Coins in the Fountain, and Funny Face among them—enticed viewers to visit faraway places for romantic escapades. In the process, these runaway romances captured American fantasies for a brief, but intense, period that ended as audiences grew tired of Old World splendors, and entered into a new era of sexual awakening.
In the aftermath of total war and unconditional surrender, Germans found themselves receiving instruction from their American occupiers. It was not a conventional education. In their effort to transform German national identity and convert a Nazi past into a democratic future, the Americans deployed what they perceived as the most powerful and convincing weapon-movies.
In a rigorous analysis of the American occupation of postwar Germany and the military’s use of “soft power,” Jennifer Fay considers how Hollywood films, including Ninotchka, Gaslight, and Stagecoach, influenced German culture and cinema. In this cinematic pedagogy, dark fantasies of American democracy and its history were unwittingly played out on-screen. Theaters of Occupation reveals how Germans responded to these education efforts and offers new insights about American exceptionalism and virtual democracy at the dawn of the cold war.
Fay’s innovative approach examines the culture of occupation not only as a phase in U.S.–German relations but as a distinct space with its own discrete cultural practices. As the American occupation of Germany has become a paradigm for more recent military operations, Fay argues that we must question its efficacy as a mechanism of cultural and political change.
Jennifer Fay is associate professor and codirector of film studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University.