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The Collaboration

The Collaboration

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    The Collaboration
    Book Description:

    To continue doing business in Germany, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films attacking Nazis or condemning persecution of Jews. Ben Urwand reveals this collaboration and the cast of characters it drew in, ranging from Goebbels to Louis B. Mayer. At the center was Hitler himself--obsessed with movies and their power to shape public opinion.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72834-9
    Subjects: History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-9)

    Eleven men were sitting in a screening room in Berlin. Only a few of them were Nazis. At the front of the room was Dr. Ernst Seeger, chief censor from long before Hitler came to power. Next to Seeger were his assistants: a producer, a philosopher, an architect, and a pastor. Farther back were the representatives of a film distribution company and two expert witnesses. The movie they were about to watch came all the way from America, and it was calledKing Kong.

    When the projector began to whir, one of the representatives from the film company started to...

    (pp. 10-43)

    Every night before going to bed Adolf Hitler watched a movie. He picked the title himself from a list presented to him at dinner, and then he led his guests to his private cinema in the Reich Chancellery (or, if he were on vacation, in the Berghof near Berchtesgaden). All the members of his household—his adjutants, his servants, even the chauffeurs of his guests—were permitted to join him. When everyone had taken a seat, the projection began.¹

    At this point, something quite strange happened: Hitler stopped talking. Earlier, at dinner, he had entertained or bored his guests with...

    (pp. 44-95)

    Hitler’s relationship with Hollywood began with great turbulence. On December 5, 1930, a group of Nazis rioted against Universal Pictures’All Quiet on the Western Frontin Berlin, and one week later, the film was banned in Germany. The Nazis’ actions were instrumental in initiating an entirely new kind of arrangement with the Hollywood studios, one from which Hitler would benefit greatly as chancellor. Before examining his dealings with the studios, however, it is necessary to turn back slightly, to another event that in a much quieter way helped to contribute to the change.

    Just two weeks before the Nazis...

    (pp. 96-127)

    The Reichstag meeting of March 23, 1933 started out calmly enough. At around 2:00 PM, the representatives of the German people—the Nazis, the German Nationalists, the Social Democrats, and the Center Party deputies—filed into the Kroll Opera House, the temporary quarters since the burning down of the official building. The Communists, who had been blamed for the Reichstag fire, had either been taken into custody or fled the scene in time. Outside the building, units of SS men were standing guard in their first official public duty; inside stood long rows of SA men in brown shirts. A...

  7. FOUR “BAD”
    (pp. 128-155)

    In the early days of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, the American studios were cautiously optimistic. They had reason to believe that their sales would improve under the new Nazi regime, and the first round of statistics seemed to prove them right: the studios sold sixty-five movies in Germany in 1933, up from fifty-four in 1932.² After hearing for over a year that the Nazis were “absolutely in favor of international exchange and collaboration,” the studios were starting to think that it might actually be true.³

    Then, on March 2, 1934, a major Hollywood motion picture came up for...

    (pp. 156-201)

    Hitler was late. He had appointments with two foreign journalists at the Kaiserhof Hotel in Berlin, and he was making them wait.² He despised such encounters with strangers. These people expected to meet a great orator, the future dictator of Germany, but for some reason they often emerged disappointed.³

    He walked through the hotel lobby with his bodyguard and up the stairs to his salon. He said he would see the Italian journalist first. For half an hour, he spoke to this man, and then it was time to meet Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist and wife of the novelist...

    (pp. 202-247)

    At the beginning of 1939, Hitler was stationed at his private retreat near Berchtesgaden. He was only months away from his fiftieth birthday. On January 5, he had a disappointing meeting with the Polish foreign minister, Joseph Beck.² Later that day, he met with Joseph Goebbels. The two men spoke for hours and unwound by watching an American film and exchanging memories. The next day, they discussed the possibility of war. Was there a way out? Only the future could tell. They watched another movie together, and afterward Hitler left to carry out important business in Munich and Berlin.³


    (pp. 248-254)

    On June 16, 1945, one month and nine days after the German surrender, a dozen motion picture executives gathered at the Pentagon in Washington. They were about to embark on a three-week tour of Europe at the invitation of the supreme headquarters of the commander of Allied forces. The group included Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, Darryl Zanuck of Twentieth Century-Fox, Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures, Clifford Work of Universal Pictures, Barney Balaban of Paramount, and Eddie Mannix of MGM (Louis B. Mayer’s right-hand man). Also present was Francis Harmon, a Hays Office employee who had helped to organize the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 255-316)
    (pp. 317-318)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 319-327)