Alexander C. Kafka: When Hollywood Held Hands With HitlerRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Hollywood, Thomas Doherty, Ben Urwand, Alexander C. Kafka, Tablet
Alexander C. Kafka is deputy managing editor of The Chronicle Review.
A debate is raging over Hollywood's alleged collusion with the Nazis. At stake: the moral culpability of Jewish studio heads during cinema's golden age.
The catalyst is a forthcoming book from Harvard University Press, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler, by the 35-year-old historian Ben Urwand. The book is still several months from publication, but emotions are running high after an early review in the online magazine Tablet, followed by an exchange of rhetorical fire in The New York Times between Urwand and Thomas Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University who this spring published his own account of the era, Hollywood and Hitler: 1933-1939 (Columbia University Press). The clash comes during a period of heightened scholarly attention to Nazi infiltration and counterinfiltration in Depression-era Los Angeles, complicating the story of Hollywood's stance toward fascism.
Urwand's Hollywood-Hitler focus began in 2004, when, while pursuing his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, he saw an interview with Budd Schulberg in which the screenwriter mentioned that in the 1930s, the head of MGM would show movies to a German consular official in LA and they'd agree on cuts. Urwand knew that anti-Nazi pictures didn't start appearing until 1939, and he suspected that indifference or passivity couldn't fully explain that. He smelled a dissertation topic. "It was the spark," he says, and he spent the next nine years traveling to dozens of archives, piecing the story together....
comments powered by Disqus
- Why Trump Would Almost Certainly Be Violating the Constitution If He Continues to Own His Businesses
- Remembering Pearl Harbor Brings ‘Date Which Will Live in Infamy’ to Virtual Reality
- Will Trump back women’s museum?
- New scholarship coming to Mormon lessons, but will instructors really teach it?
- Why the history of slavery in the US South is taking centre stage once again
- Novelist says History classes are our best hope for teaching Americans to question fake news and Donald Trump
- National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi is youngest in 30 years in the non-fiction category
- Historian Volker Ullrich’s book on the rise of Hitler is spookily relevant
- People are still talking about historian Mark Lilla’s NYT op ed 2 weeks after it was published
- Rick Perlstein says Trump’s election confirms a paranoid trend in the GOP