PDF A Divided World: Hollywood Cinema and Emigre Directors in the Era of Roosevelt and Hitler, 1933-1948

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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The New Deal introduced sweeping social, political, and cultural change across the United States, which Hollywood embraced enthusiastically. Then, when the heady idealism of the s was replaced by the paranoia of the postwar years, Hollywood became an easy target for the anticommunists.

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A Divided World examines some of the important programs of the New Deal and the subs The New Deal introduced sweeping social, political, and cultural change across the United States, which Hollywood embraced enthusiastically. The book also provides an analysis of the major works of three European directors—Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, and Fritz Lang—compared and contrasted with the products of mainstream Hollywood.

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This is a new interpretation of an influential period in American film history and it is sure to generate further debate and scholarship. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Divided World , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. His aim was to construct a non-partisan, non-class, non-party alliance in the national interest.

Roosevelt was supported in his programme by a group of young intellectuals known as the 'Brains Trust', who were at the forefront of the new thinking. These men believed that competition could no longer protect essential social interests; the formula for stability in the realigned society of the s was combination and cooperation, planned and managed by an invigorated central government.

Popular support for the New Deal came from a heterogeneous coalition of urban blue-collar workers in the North, ethnic and religious minorities, farmers, intellectuals and the black population. Roosevelt's experiment with the American liberal tradition was the start of a sporadic journey in American politics: his heirs would be Kennedy and Johnson in the s, and Carter and Clinton after that. This moderate liberal reformism at first yielded great political success.

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The Republicans were routed in the congressional elections, and Roosevelt returned in with a substantially increased share of the national vote. In his second term, he adopted a rather more radical programme, which became more hostile to business. His power, however, was undermined by the formation of a congressional coalition between the Northern Republicans and the hitherto loyal Southern Democrats, the latter in particular feeling alienated from Roosevelt's interventionist and centralist government. In the Republicans made some gains in Congress, while the president's second re-election in showed that his support was slipping.

The Depression lasted throughout the s. A major recession in clearly demonstrated that the difficulties had not yet gone away. Although by Roosevelt's economic policies were able to restore levels of production to levels, this was not enough to take the country out of recession.


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The New Deal had restored confidence and had made significant changes to America's social and cultural life, but it had not solved cyclical economic problems. America was, in fact, able to escape from recession only when World War II brought a boom in production and employment, financed by government spending on an unprecedented scale. During the years of Roosevelt's unchallenged ascendancy — from to — a significant cultural shift took place in America.

The New Deal's move away from naked competition towards industrial planning and business-labour cooperation was paralleled by a movement in American thought. The rise of federal relief programmes challenged the old orthodoxy that each individual had to look out for his or her own interests and could expect no assistance from outside agencies. The appearance of the federal government in previously private concerns undermined the American idea of self-help and personal responsibility and hence personal failure and personal guilt.

The new legitimacy of organized labour was a further moderating force in American social thought, showing that the less well off had status and rights in a democracy. The rise of neighbourliness and concern for one's fellow citizen — key themes repeated over and over in Hollywood's films of the New Deal — were cultural offshoots of this political realignment.

This cultural shift was in dramatic contrast to the dominant ideology of the s. In that period of unbridled materialism, the underlying philosophy was the ethos of success. Rooted in Puritan work ethic traditions, the prevailing morality saw success as God- given. The worthy would always succeed because they possessed the necessary virtues: hard work, honesty and competitive individualism.

Businessmen, the producers of the nation's wealth, were idolized. Any interference with, or regulation of, business practices could only inhibit the ambitious from succeeding and impede the creation of wealth. Those who could not participate in the dream of success were not worthy of its rewards. Poverty would either instil the virtues required to escape it and find success, or it was the proper fate for the lazy, wasteful and unambitious. Intellectuals and artists had reacted against the spiritual emptiness of this society by depicting a world without values — a hopeless, pointless existence.

They wrote about individuals who pursued a 'separate peace', who avowed a private disaffiliation from the world. Writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway shouldered the burden of providing readers with a code of values lacking in their own daily lives.

The devastating social and economic consequences of the market collapse in precipitated a crisis of belief in America. Hitherto held certainties suddenly seemed flawed.

Hollywood Cinema and Emigré Directors in the Era of Roosevelt and Hitler, 1933-1948

It was startlingly evident that the capitalist market system was not infallible. A huge increase in unemployment and homelessness followed the Crash. The ethic of self-help was quite obviously inadequate to deal with the resulting scale of social turmoil. In reappraising the economic system which had led to this upheaval, the values which had supported individual wealth creation came under scrutiny too.

Perhaps, people began to say, America had lost touch with its founding principles.


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In essence, the cultural voyage of the s 'discovered' that American ideals were not those of power, wealth and personal gratification. These were, it transpired, mere surface manifestations of a deeper purpose in American life. People began to argue that the true greatness of the nation lay in America's commitment to freedom, equality and individual happiness.

Capitalism was the system which best preserved those values, but without this underpinning of a higher morality, wealth and materialism meant little. This thematic shift was to be the bread and butter of Hollywood's films in the s. Robert McElvaine has argued that the United States in the s saw a rise of 'working class and female values'. Such values emphasized compassion, sharing, sacrifice, social justice and community help, in contrast to 'middle class, masculine values' of personal power, self-help, self-improvement and individual achievement. The sheer numbers of those hit by unemployment and associated deprivations meant that the ethos of 'go-it-alone' individualism had to be moderated; problems were bound to be shared, and solved through communal endeavour.

The guilt and shame of unemployment, when it touched so many lives, needed an explanation other than that of personal failings. The philosophy of social Darwinism in American thought saw failure as a product of personal weakness or indolence. In the s, this thinking gave way to social realism and environmental determinism, which recognized that external factors such as housing were important in influencing human opportunities. The development of social and natural sciences helped to underpin the rational strain in American thought, stressing that problems are soluble through creative experimentation.

Intellectuals advocated a tempered form of capitalism, a social market philosophy influenced by the writings in the previous decade of John Dewey, the architect of pragmatism. He had challenged the accepted view that 'instinct' governed human behaviour, that the struggle for life was competitive and selfish and that only the fittest could survive. Dewey believed that humans had a capacity to adapt in order to achieve desired social goals.

His thinking laid the foundations for s intellectual radicalism. For Dewey, there was nothing immutable about either human nature or economic, legal, social and political behaviour. Psychology and sociology showed how individual and social behaviour were both explicable and malleable. The aim of social, rather than autonomous, individuality was prescribed.

By Dewey was writing, in Individualism Old and New, that 'the collective age' had arrived, the choice now lying between anarchic capitalism and democratic planning. Only the latter could create the conditions for a new individualism in the United States. His heirs found these values readily applicable in the changed circumstances of the Depression era. Charles Beard, writing in , saw the goal of Americans as 'the subordination of personal ambition and greed to common plans and purposes'.

As Clarke Chambers wrote in , Americans had come to expect 'infinite progress in the improvement of human life


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