From Hitler to Hollywood: German Exiles in the 1930s and 1940s
Instructor: Margrit Frolich

During the 1930a and 1940s, many film professionals fled from Nazi-occupied Europe.  Hollywood provided a sanctuary for hundreds of emigres, most of them Jewish, who had brought the German cinema of the 1920s to flourish.  In Hollywood, the German-speaking exiles worked as film directors, actors, producers, screen writers, and in other fields of the American film industry.  Their experiences in Europe, it seems, had equipped them with a heightened sensibility that made them keenly aware of issues at stake in American society at the time and which reflected in their films.  Some of them made a lasting impact on American cinema.  In this course, we will study selected films by some of the most prominent exile filmakers in Hollywood (Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmak, Fred Zinnemann, and others) and their contributions to American cinema, and investigate how Hollywood, against the background of the United States' entry into World War Two, used film as a medium to raise the American public's awareness of Hitler's threat in Europe.  Films to be discussed in this course will include CASABLANCA (Michael Curtiz), TO BE OR NOT TO BE (Ernst Lubitsch), HANGMEN ALSO DIE (Fritz Lang), Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR, as well as some famous film noir thrillers, such as DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Billy Wilder), LAURA (Otto Preminger), and ACTS OF VIOLENCE (Fred Zinnermann).