Hitler and Hollywood...

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Hitler and Hollywood...

Postby Lord Jim » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:57 am

I saw the author of this book interviewed on CNN, and I found this intriguing, so I decided to look it up on the net:
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.


Here's a link to an interview with Urwand at HuffPost Live:

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segmen ... 6a2f000201

If his story is accurate, (and he appears to have done a lot of research) it's a very odd tale, because not only were most of the studio heads at the time in question Jewish, but a number of them were first generation Jews who came to America from Europe. (Louie B. Meyer was born in Russia, and Sam Goldwyn was born in Poland)

I guess what this illustrates, is just how naive Americans were (even Americans who's background would make you think they might know better) about just what the Nazi agenda was.
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Re: Hitler and Hollywood...

Postby Scooter » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:06 pm

There are a couple of scathing reviews of the book here and here. It would appear that when Unwand isn't flat out misrepresenting the events, he is attempting to draw cause and effect relationships where none exist.

As an example of the former, he claims that Warner Bros. was "kicked out" of Germany, when in fact Jack Warner chose to pull out after a series of incidents, like the beating of the head of his Berlin office at the hands of a Nazi mob and the banning of 42nd Street, made him realize that Nazi Germany was no longer a place to do business. The latter is exemplified using the screening of the film Captured for an incensed German consul general, and cuts made subsequently,as evidence of early "collaboration" with the Nazis by Hollywood. But the only cuts made to the film were those required by the Hays Office, when the German consul general saw the edited version he was just as incensed as when he saw it the first time and the film was banned in Germany.

And I'm sorry, but the guy has to be a few slices short of a loaf to allege that "The Life of Emile Zola" was evidence of "collaboration" with the Nazis. As one of the reviewers explains, the reason that the word "Jew" and its variants is not used in that film (or in any others of the era) was not due to Nazi pressure, but to honour a request of the Anti-Defamation League who were fearful of an anti-Semitic backlash. No one with the brain cells of a turnip could watch "The Life of Emile Zola" and see it as anything but a blistering indictment of anti-Semitism. As was true of several films of that era. Gee, I wonder what could possibly have been going on in the world around that time that would inspire Hollywood studios to draw attention to the evils of anti-Semitism...hmmm, tough one.

One of the reviewers mentions the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of Democracy, which probably did more than any other U.S. organization to raise awareness of the dangers of Nazism. Is it even remotely credible that studio heads as anxious to pander to the Nazis as Unwand alleges they were, would have tolerated something like HANL to operate in their backyard? Anyone in the industry who took part in it would have found themselves out of a job.

It seems like viewing events of the 1930s through a 21st century lens has caused Unwand to make a lot more out of events than they really were. For one, film censorship, self-imposed or otherwise, was the norm of the day, and there were a plethora of interests, both foreign and domestic, to whom Hollywood had to answer. He is also viewing the Nazi regime with the benefit of hindsight, when at the time most of the world, including both government and private interests in the U.S., were still trying to "do business" with Hitler. So did Hollywood studios take the opinions of Nazi officials into account in an effort to preserve their German business? I'm sure they did. Can Unwand demonstrate that the opinions of Nazi officials were given undue weight that would not have been accorded to anyone else in their position? I very much doubt it. Was there any industry in the U.S. that did more to raise the alarm about the dangers of anti-Semitism, and of Nazism in particular, in the 1930s. I very much doubt that too.

It sounds very much like the guy went to the Ann Coulter School of Writing - cite copious amounts of documentation for your "work", but if someone actually reads the source cited in the footnotes, they find that it provides no support for the claims being made.
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Re: Hitler and Hollywood...

Postby rubato » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:15 pm

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Re: Hitler and Hollywood...

Postby Lord Jim » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:55 pm

It seems like viewing events of the 1930s through a 21st century lens has caused Unwand to make a lot more out of events than they really were. For one, film censorship, self-imposed or otherwise, was the norm of the day, and there were a plethora of interests, both foreign and domestic, to whom Hollywood had to answer. He is also viewing the Nazi regime with the benefit of hindsight, when at the time most of the world, including both government and private interests in the U.S., were still trying to "do business" with Hitler.


That's an excellent analysis Scooter (your entire post......well done...)
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