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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
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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

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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.

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
01 Jan 2010-Shofar
TL;DR: Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers as discussed by the authors depicts a society that embraces the logic of extermination and uses Nazi language and signifiers to express eliminationist rhetoric at every turn, and attempts to seduce the audience into accepting and even cheering for genocide on a galactic scale.
Abstract: The 1997 release of Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers generated controversy for its obvious Nazi imagery and ironic endorsement of a fascist future. Based on Robert Heinlein’s equally controversial novel in which a militarized Earth is engaged in a war of annihilation against a race of insects, Verhoeven’s film portrays a society that embraces the logic of extermination and uses Nazi language and signifiers to express eliminationist rhetoric at every turn. Schools, the media, and the future military consisently invoke Nazi terminology and allusions to frame the conflict against the “Arachnids.” From the blatant mimicry of Triumph of the Will to the twisted use of Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series, Verhoeven cleverly mixes Nazi imagery with the patriotic fervor promoted in American propaganda films from the Second World War. Verhoeven attempts to seduce the audience into accepting and even cheering for genocide on a galactic scale. The irony of this approach was lost on most of the audience and reviewers. What could be more like paradise on earth than to live in a community without enemies? To create a world with no more need for borders. A world safe from the deadly contaminations and temptations of the other tribe? What could be more beautiful than to live in a community with people who resemble each other in every particular? What could be more seductive than to kill in order to put an end to all killing? This utopia is so alluring that it is a wonder the human race has been able to survive at all. Michael Ignatieff Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian scholar, activist, and politician, articulates the appeal of utopia in the modern age and correctly notes that any quest for utopia is as much a destructive act as it is a creative one. Utopias are defined by what they exclude, and genocide is the ultimate expression of utopian desire. Science Fiction is a natural site to explore the moral and even historical

3 citations

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2 citations

Book ChapterDOI
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1 citations

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01 Jan 1944

1 citations