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Hollywood Exiles in Europe

Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Hollywood Exiles in Europe
    Book Description:

    Rebecca Prime documents the untold story of the American directors, screenwriters, and actors who exiled themselves to Europe as a result of the Hollywood blacklist. During the 1950s and 1960s, these Hollywood émigrés directed, wrote, or starred in almost one hundred European productions, their contributions ranging from crime film masterpieces likeDu rififi chez les hommes(1955, Jules Dassin, director) to international blockbusters likeThe Bridge on the RiverKwai(1957, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, screenwriters) and acclaimed art films likeThe Servant(1963, Joseph Losey, director).

    At once a lively portrait of a lesser-known American "lost generation" and an examination of an important transitional moment in European cinema, the book offers a compelling argument for the significance of the blacklisted émigrés to our understanding of postwar American and European cinema and Cold War relations. Prime provides detailed accounts of the production and reception of their European films that clarify the ambivalence with which Hollywood was regarded within postwar European culture. Drawing upon extensive archival research, including previously classified material,Hollywood Exiles in Europesuggests the need to rethink our understanding of the Hollywood blacklist as a purely domestic phenomenon. By shedding new light on European cinema's changing relationship with Hollywood, the book illuminates the postwar shift from national to transnational cinema.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6263-6
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-11)

    This book owes its existence to a chance meeting. On a spring afternoon in Paris, I bumped into an acquaintance from New York who invited me to join her at her favorite tea room, nearby on the rue Royale. Over rainbow-colored macarons, I listened as Suzo Barzman, daughter of the blacklisted screenwriters and Hollywood exiles Ben and Norma Barzman, recounted her expatriate childhood in Paris, where her parents had settled in the early 1950s. I had of course heard of the Hollywood blacklist, but I had no inkling of the exodus of Hollywood directors, screenwriters, and actors to Europe that...

    (pp. 12-34)

    Hollywood in the 1940s was still a relatively small community, with roughly 50,000 people employed by the film industry.¹ During the tumultuous course of the 1930s—marked by the Depression, the struggles of the talent guilds for recognition, and the enthusiastic embrace of antifascist causes—it had also become a highly politicized community that supported a remarkable number of left-wing political organizations and charitable groups. Not surprisingly, considering Hollywood’s moderate size and politically oriented social life, left-leaning film industry professionals—a group that encompassed both radicals (communists and fellow travelers) and liberals (noncommunist antifascists)—tended to know each other. Connections...

  6. 2 LIFE ON THE BLACKLIST: Production and Politics in Postwar Europe
    (pp. 35-58)

    By December 1954, Joseph Losey had been away from Hollywood for more than three years. On tour in Dublin, he evokes the weight of his exile in a letter to Ring Lardner Jr.: “I have had a rather tough few months with a play which I am afraid is not worth the trouble. It is making money on the road. I am dubious about it for London. In all other respects, the struggle goes on—only differences of detail. It is extremely lonely here and often seems pointless and wasted and the temptation to return is great. There is very...

    (pp. 59-82)

    In addition to the blacklisted exiles, Europe was awash with Hollywood expatriates during the postwar years. Some, such as the directors Lewis Milestone and Nicholas Ray and the screenwriter Howard Koch, had been “gray-listed.”¹ The graylist was the work of powerful red-baiting organizations such as the American Legion and a private firm called American Business Consultants (ABC), and it targeted Hollywood’s noncommunist liberals. These pressure groups combed through sources ranging from HUAC transcripts to back issues of the communist newspaper theDaily Workerfor names of “subversives,” whom they then included in their respective publications—the American Legion’sFiring Line...

    (pp. 83-107)

    With the arrival of the blacklist in Hollywood, many members of the radical community found themselves living under conditions not dissimilar to those of the alienated, persecuted protagonists of the film noirs they wrote or directed. While writing the script for Joseph Losey’s filmThe Big Night(1951), Losey and Hugo Butler moved from one remote motel to another, like noir characters, in their attempt to stay ahead of their subpoenas.¹ Similarly, when makingThe Prowler(1951) the previous year, Losey was obliged to meet with Dalton Trumbo, his already-blacklisted screenwriter, under cover of darkness in order not to jeopardize...

    (pp. 108-129)

    This “humble observer,” theNew York Times’ long-standing film critic Bosley Crowther, called belated attention to the film industry’s new European focus in a series of dispatches filed during his travels in Europe in June 1960. Noting that of “thirty-one films being made by American companies last week, eleven of them were being shot in foreign locations and studios,” he concluded, “As things stand now, the magnetism of the European centers has a strong pull and the balance is shifting in their direction. It looks bad for Hollywood.”¹

    The American film industry’s orientation toward Europe during the 1950s was both...

    (pp. 130-157)

    Emerging in tandem with the international co-production and “cosmopolitan” film was another filmmaking trend that played a significant role in shifting attention away from Hollywood. The rise of the European art film—both as a mode of film practice and an institution, to combine David Bordwell’s and Steve Neale’s well-known definitions—presented a distinct challenge to Hollywood filmmaking, as well as to the careers of some of the blacklisted in Europe.¹ While also intended for an international audience, the European art film employed rather different formal and economic strategies from the Anglo-American or Euro-American co-productions, or the Hollywood “runaway” productions...

    (pp. 158-172)

    Predicting the end of the blacklist was, not surprisingly, a favorite pastime of the blacklisted. On a trip to Europe during the summer of 1958, Adrian Scott advised his exiled friends that by his estimation, the blacklist would be dead within a year.¹ Six months later, Paul Jarrico echoed Scott’s sentiments in a letter to the Czech director Jirí Weiss. Noting recent signs of improvement in Hollywood, Jarrico concluded that “the blacklist, in fact, seems to be on its last legs, at long last.”² Changes within the industry and at the governmental level contributed to the sense of optimism. The...

    (pp. 173-182)

    Lee Gold’s elegiac tone in this letter to Paul Jarrico from September 1964 gives a sense of the losses their formerly “tight little Paris colony” had suffered in the preceding years.¹ The Wilsons had decamped to Ojai, California, that summer; the Barzmans were living full-time in Provence; John Berry had spent much of the year in New York directing for stage and television; and Jules Dassin was on the road promoting his latest film,Topkapi.Two years earlier, Jarrico had left the Paris group, convinced that the booming British film industry would offer better professional opportunities for an Anglophone screenwriter....

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 183-230)
    (pp. 231-238)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 239-258)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-260)