scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question
Journal Article

Hollywood Über Alles: Seeing the Nazi in American Movies

22 Jun 2015-Film & History (Center for the Study of Film and History)-Vol. 45, Iss: 1, pp 38-53
TL;DR: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943) channeled Warner Bros.'s longstanding anti-German and anti-Nazi stance into themes of group identity and collective resistance to the Nazis, an approach promoted by the new Office of War Information.
Abstract: No figure in fact or in fiction embodies absolute evil as much as the Nazi. The American-movie Nazi drew its initial presence and force from the sheer enormity of Nazi destructive impact on the real world, the Nazis' own projection of their dark drama onto the movie screens of that world, and the emigration of much German, European, and Jewish talent to Hollywood in the 1930s. Meanwhile, Hollywood largely avoided the subject of Nazism for political and economic reasons. From 1941 on, however, the Nazi figure assumed a place in a wide variety of movie genres, not only because of the fervor of war, but because the Nazi allowed Hollywood to engage American issues of class, race, and power without indicting American culture itself.Hollywood movies about the First World War caricatured Prussian officers as bearers of the arrogant rot at the top of Old World society. This type of "pre"-Nazi figure was evident even in the urbane officer in Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941) in contrast to the thuggish party leader (Confessions of a Nazi Spy [Anatole Litvak, 1939]).Such urbanity usually conceals thuggishness, however. Erich von Stroheim's portrayal of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in Paramount's Five Graves to Cairo (Billy Wilder, 1943) recalls Stroheim's earlier portrayals of Prussians, but it adds the menace of Nazi racism. Wilder, an Austrian-Jewish emigre, indirectly exposes the Nazi persecution of Jews when Rommel notes that there is no Moses to part the Red Sea for the British and when Rommel rages, in German, at officers dallying with a French hotel maid: "Is this the German army or a Jews' school?" The movie elliptically refers to the Final Solution (articulated formally in early 1942) when Rommel observes ominously about prison camps that "we can use paper in Germany, a great deal of paper," hinting at the bureaucracy of euphemisms used in Nazi communications (Sonderbehandlung- "special handling"-being the most infamous).Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943) channeled Warner Bros.'s longstanding anti-German and antiNazi stance into themes of group identity and collective resistance to the Nazis, an approach promoted by the new Office of War Information. Colonel Strasser, as played by German emigre Conrad Veidt, is Teutonic in the aristocratic Prussian style without being self-stereotyped like von Stroheim and so exudes a more modern malevolence a la Nazi. He, like Rommel, sports no aristocratic "von." His name has a utilitarian, even proletarian, simplicity and directness to it. He wears the uniform of the Luftwaffe, the most recent and Nazified of the German armed services, and he arrives in an airplane. The German army officers around him are a blend of arrogance and officiousness, described and dismissed by Rick's Russian bartender as "Germans boom, boom, boom, boom."The Nazi uniform is, in other words, dapper camouflage for thugs-typically played, ironically, by the sorts of people the Nazis despised. More than any other wartime American film, Casablanca's production resounds with the powerful voice of recent emigrants, many of them Jewish, from fascist Europe. Director Curtiz was from Hungary. Veidt had fled Germany with his Jewish wife. Peter Lorre, born Laszlo Lowenstein in Hungary, plays Ugarte, an oily but hapless trader in refugee souls.1 But even though many of the crew and cast, as well most of the twelve German-speaking actors, were Jewish, there is famously no mention of Jews in Casablanca, or indeed of religion or race at all. Unlike Once Upon a Honeymoon (Leo McCarey, 1942), Address Unknown (William Menzies, 1944), Tomorrow the World (Leslie Fenton, 1944), and None Shall Escape (Andre de Toth, 1944), the Nazi in Casablanca appears not to be presented in the context of a war against the Jews. This tactic reflected the concern among Jewish studio heads in Hollywood that America, with its own obvious history of anti-Semitism, would interpret the war (or the film's representation of it) as a defense of Jews. …
Citations
More filters
Book
14 Mar 2019
TL;DR: Rosenfeld as mentioned in this paper explores the universalization of the Fourth Reich by left-wing radicals in the 1960s, its transformation into a source of pop culture entertainment in the 1970s, and its embrace by authoritarian populists and neo-Nazis seeking to attack the European Union since the year 2000.
Abstract: Ever since the collapse of the Third Reich, anxieties have persisted about Nazism's revival in the form of a Fourth Reich. Gavriel D. Rosenfeld reveals, for the first time, these postwar nightmares of a future that never happened and explains what they tell us about Western political, intellectual, and cultural life. He shows how postwar German history might have been very different without the fear of the Fourth Reich as a mobilizing idea to combat the right-wing forces that genuinely threatened the country's democratic order. He then explores the universalization of the Fourth Reich by left-wing radicals in the 1960s, its transformation into a source of pop culture entertainment in the 1970s, and its embrace by authoritarian populists and neo-Nazis seeking to attack the European Union since the year 2000. This is a timely analysis of a concept that is increasingly relevant in an era of surging right-wing politics.

44 citations

Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2018
TL;DR: In this article, a vorliegende Beitrag geht daher am Beispiel von Spielfilmen auf die theoretische und praktische Abgrenzung des Forschungsfeldes sowie das sampling and sich daraus ergebende Generalisierungsmoglichkeiten ein.
Abstract: Feldabgrenzung und Sampling sind bei allen empirischen Arbeiten von groser Bedeutung. Fur prozessproduzierte audiovisuelle Daten ergeben sich aber Besonderheiten, die in der Forschungspraxis haufig vernachlassigt werden. Der vorliegende Beitrag geht daher am Beispiel von Spielfilmen auf die theoretische und praktische Abgrenzung des Forschungsfeldes sowie das Sampling und sich daraus ergebende Generalisierungsmoglichkeiten ein.

2 citations

Book ChapterDOI
01 Mar 2019

2 citations

References
More filters
Book
01 Jan 1983
TL;DR: The authors found an appropriate language for the Hollywood version of the Holocaust and used it to find an appropriate metaphor for the Holocaust in fiction and non-fiction movies, including the personal documentary.
Abstract: Part I. Finding an Appropriate Language: 1. The Hollywood version of the Holocaust 2. Meaningful montage 3. Styles of tension 4. Black humor Part II. Narrative Strategies: 5. The Jew as child 6. In hiding/onstage 7. Beautiful evasions? 8. The condemned and doomed Part III. Responses to Nazi Atrocity: 9. Political resistance 10. The ambiguity of identity 11. The new German guilt Part IV. Shaping Reality: 12. The personal documentary 13. From judgment to illumination Part V. Third Edition Update: 14. The Holocaust as genre 15. Rediscoveries 16. Rescuers in fiction films 17. The ironic touch 18. Dysfunction as distortion: the Holocaust survivor on screen and stage 19. Documentaries of return.

93 citations

Book
01 Jan 1992

56 citations

Book
01 Jan 1985
TL;DR: The Star-Spangled Screen as discussed by the authors examines the historical accuracy or lack thereof of films about the Third Reich, the Resistance, and major military campaigns, concerned primarily with the films of the war years, but also including discussions of such postwar movies as "Battleground" (1949), "Attack!" (1956), "The Bridge on the River Kwai" ( 1957), and "Patton" (1970).
Abstract: The American World War II film depicted a united America, a mythic America in which the average guy, the girl next door, the 4-F patriot, and the grieving mother were suddenly transformed into heroes and heroines, warriors and goddesses. " The Star-Spangled Screen" examines the historical accuracy -- or lack thereof -- of films about the Third Reich, the Resistance, and major military campaigns. Concerned primarily with the films of the war years, it also includes discussions of such postwar movies as "Battleground" (1949), "Attack!" (1956), "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957), and "Patton" (1970). This revised edition includes a new afterword that covers more recent films, such as "Sophie's Choice" (1982), "Biloxi Blues" (1986), and "Schindler's List" (1993). "The Star-Spangled Screen" makes a major contribution to popular culture by recreating an era that, for all its tragedy, was one of the most creative in the history of American film.

39 citations

Book
01 Jan 1992
TL;DR: Harmetz as mentioned in this paper argues that every movie is a creature built from accidents and blind choices -a mechanical monster constructed of camera angles, the chemistry between actors, too little money or too much and a thousand unintended moments.
Abstract: It is 50 years since "Casablanca" opened up in America Little did Humphrey Bogart know when he uttered the final line - "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship" - that he had just closed what would be one of the most enduring and popular movies ever Aljean Harmetz believes that "every movie is a creature built from accidents and blind choices - a mechanical monster constructed of camera angles, the chemistry between actors, too little money or too much and a thousand unintended moments" Her portrait of the making of an unmatched classic reveals some of the accidents: how the stars of the movie almost weren't Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman; how "As Time Goes By" nearly didn't make it to the final cut

24 citations