Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939 by Thomas Doherty
(Film and Culture Series)

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Alas, colorful as Mr. Doherty's stories are, they can't camouflage the fact that too much of his book is given over to ponderous plot synopses of movies you've never heard of.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Between 1933 and 1939, representations of the Nazis and the full meaning of Nazism came slowly to Hollywood, growing more ominous and distinct only as the decade wore on. Recapturing what ordinary Americans saw on the screen during the emerging Nazi threat, Thomas Doherty reclaims forgotten films, such as Hitler’s Reign of Terror (1934), a pioneering anti-Nazi docudrama by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.; I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany (1936), a sensational true tale of “a Hollywood girl in Naziland!”; and Professor Mamlock (1938), an anti-Nazi film made by German refugees living in the Soviet Union. Doherty also recounts how the disproportionately Jewish backgrounds of the executives of the studios and the workers on the payroll shaded reactions to what was never simply a business decision. As Europe hurtled toward war, a proxy battle waged in Hollywood over how to conduct business with the Nazis, how to cover Hitler and his victims in the newsreels, and whether to address or ignore Nazism in Hollywood feature films. Should Hollywood lie low, or stand tall and sound the alarm? Doherty’s history features a cast of charismatic personalities: Carl Laemmle, the German Jewish founder of Universal Pictures, whose production of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) enraged the nascent Nazi movement; Georg Gyssling, the Nazi consul in Los Angeles, who read the Hollywood trade press as avidly as any studio mogul; Vittorio Mussolini, son of the fascist dictator and aspiring motion picture impresario; Leni Riefenstahl, the Valkyrie goddess of the Third Reich who came to America to peddle distribution rights for Olympia (1938); screenwriters Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, founders of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League; and Harry and Jack Warner of Warner Bros., who yoked anti-Nazism to patriotic Americanism and finally broke the embargo against anti-Nazi cinema with Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939).
 

About Thomas Doherty

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Thomas Doherty is a professor of American Studies at Brandeis University. His previous books include Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934, Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture, and Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration. He lives with his wife Sandra in Salem, Massachusetts.
 
Published March 12, 2013 by Columbia University Press. 448 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dave Kehr on May 23 2013

Some of the most fascinating material in “Hollywood and Hitler” involves the treatment of the handful of marginal independent films and projects that dared to violate that injunction...

Read Full Review of Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-19... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Christopher Bray on May 24 2013

Alas, colorful as Mr. Doherty's stories are, they can't camouflage the fact that too much of his book is given over to ponderous plot synopses of movies you've never heard of.

Read Full Review of Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-19... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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