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Politics, Propaganda and Profit: Hollywood

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Laura Cussons

on 18 March 2013

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Transcript of Politics, Propaganda and Profit: Hollywood

Politics, Propaganda and
Profit: An Examination of
Hollywood's Motives
between 1939 and 1941 By observing films of the time
including, but not being
limited to, Confessions of
a Nazi Spy, The Great
Dictator, and Sergeant York Laura Cussons, Jakob Lundwall, Daniel Adshead Politics, Propaganda and Profit:
Examining Hollywood's Motives Behind Film Production 1939-41 Laura Cussons, Jakob Lundwall, Daniel Adshead 18/03/2013 1 1 Hollywood before
'Confessions of a Nazi Spy' (1939)

Furhammer and Isaksson

Films were isolationist in tone
Lucrative foreign markets
House Committee on Un-American Activities
Anti-Nazi Association (4000 members) The Case of Warner Bros. Warner Bros. ahead of the political game
Polish-born Harry Warner (pictured right)
Warner Bros. - the first major studio to release politically-driven movies. 'Blockade' (1938) - explicit in its antifascism
Director - William Dieterle (German) Anger and protest upon its release
A box office bust

Purpose was not profit, but a warning to Americans Many Europeans involved in the making of the film

Film was banned almost everywhere in Europe

Warner Bros. re-release in 1940
Protests from Americans and German heritage groups (German-American Bund)

Christensen and Haas
Timing of the film was significant (FBI arrests)
Sergeant York 57th of America's Top
Inspirational Movies by the American Film

Alvin York voted as the
top 35th' Hero of America

In 2008, the film became preserved
in the National Film Registry by the
Library of Congress for being
‘culturally, historically or aesthetically

Won two oscars Alvin York

Decorated WWI hero

Refused any film-
maker the rights to
his story for over
twenty years From the very beginning till now we are still struggling...Such things are part of our heritage of Americans...but the cost of that heritage is high. Sometimes it takes all we’ve got to preserve it.
even our lives. Do you mean, you did
it to try and save

...Yes Sir. 'Both entertained and
provided the nation with
a 'good timely message'...
The film, was 'crying to be made
right now'.

- Robert Buckner,
Warner Brothers Executive Samuel
Goldwyn Adolph
Zukor Paramount Carl
Laemmle Universal Louis
Mayer David
Selznick MGM Albert Warner
Sam Warner
Harry Warner
Jack Warner "The Big Eight" “Hollywood swarms
with refugees, British
actors, directors . . .
from Russia, Hungary,
Germany, and the
Balkan countries”

who were

“susceptible to . . .
national and racial
emotions.” - Gerald Nye, Head of the 1941 Senate Investigation Darryl
Zanuck Nicholas
Schenck Harry
Warner Warner
Brothers President of
Loew's Inc.
MGM) VP of 20th
Century Fox “The only sin of which Warner Bros. is guilty is that of accurately recording on the screen the world as it is or as it has been.”
- Harry Warner “Pictures do not mould the public: The public moulds us.”
- Nicholas Schenck ‘…time for Hollywood producers to proclaim that they are doing everything they know how to make America conscious of the national peril’.
- Darryl Zanuck Their greatest danger to this country lies in their [The Jews] large owner ship and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our Government'
- Charles Lindburgh "How could I throw myself into
feminine whimsy or think of
romance or the problems of love
[for my next film] when madness
was being stirred up by a
hideous grotesque, Adolf Hitler?" - Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography, (London, 1964) "Soldiers! [...] Fight for Liberty!
[...] In the name of democracy,
let us use that power. Let us all
unite. Let us fight for a new
world, a decent world!
Let us fight for a free world!"

- Chaplin's "Everyman" Speech
shows "dualism" of every
human being

- High level of potential
identification with Chaplin
and his cause "I simply had to do [this film]" "If they won't give theatres to show ['The Great Dictator'], I'll show it myself. In tents. I'll charge 10 cents straight" Concluding Points Harry Warner: "FDR's chief persuader in Hollywood" (N. Snow) - Turning point in film-making in Hollywood (led by Warner Bros.)
Studios motives less concerned with profit, more with edification of the public.

- Hollywood began injecting more overt propaganda in its pictures.
Projected revenue was still barely an afterthought

- It was realised that the subject matter could also bring in healthy profit
Profit as well as politics and propaganda begin to condition American movie-making Profit Politics Politics Politics Propaganda Propaganda 1939 1940 1941 The Three 'P'
Model Showing the changing motives of directors concerning war films
between 1939 and 1941 Norbert Aping - Politics 1939 1940 1941 The Three 'P'
Model Showing the changing motives of directors concerning war films
between 1939 and 1941 Profit Politics Politics Politics Propaganda Propaganda 1939 1940 1941 The Three 'P'
Model Showing the changing motives of directors concerning war films
between 1939 and 1941
- May 1939: Confessions of a Nazi Spy is released

- October 1940: The Great Dictatoris released

- July 1941: Sergent York is released

- August 1941: Senate Investigation of Hollywood Commences

- December 1941: Pearl Harbour is attacked and the USA enters the war Political Motivations Political Motivations and Propaganda used Political, Propaganda, and Profit major motivations Highest Grossing Film of 1941

Grossed $4,000,000 in less than a
year Politics 1939 1940 1941 The Three 'P'
Model Showing the changing motives of directors concerning war films
between 1939 and 1941 Propaganda Politics Profit Propaganda Politics 1940 1938/39 1941
Full transcript