Date(s) - Thursday, May 13th
12:00 pm CDT - 1:00 pm CDT
In September 1941, a handful of isolationist senators set out to tarnish Hollywood for warmongering. The United States was largely divided on the possibility of entering the European War, yet the immigrant moguls in Hollywood were acutely aware of the conditions in Europe. After Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), the gloves came off. Warner Bros. released the first directly anti-Nazi film in 1939 with Confessions of a Nazi Spy. Other studios followed with such films as The Mortal Storm (MGM), Man Hunt (Fox), The Man I Married (Fox), and The Great Dictator (United Artists).
While these films represented a small percentage of Hollywood’s output, senators took aim at the Jews in Hollywood who were supposedly “agitating us for war” and launched an investigation that resulted in Senate Resolution 152. The resolution was aimed at both radio and movies that “have been extensively used for propaganda purposes designed to influence the public mind in the direction of participation in the European War.” When the Senate approved a subcommittee to investigate the intentions of these films, studio bosses were ready and willing to stand up against the government to defend their beloved industry. What followed was a complete embarrassment of the United States Senate and a large victory for Hollywood as well as freedom of speech.
Many works of American film history only skim the surface of the 1941 investigation of Hollywood. Join the author of Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures, Chris Yogerst, as he examines the years leading up to and through the Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda, detailing the isolationist senators’ relationship with the America First movement.
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This program is free and open to the public.
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Buy Hollywood Hates Hitler!: Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures from Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Online Store, offering curbside pickup and shipping.
In connection with To Paint Is To Live: The Artwork of Erich Lichtblau-Leskly, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, February 18 – May 30, 2021.
About Chris Yogerst
Chris Yogerst, Ph.D., is a film and media historian who focuses on the social and cultural impact of popular culture. His research shows that popular culture often mirrors society in many ways that adds important context towards understanding our world.
His work can be found in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, and numerous academic journals. His latest book, Hollywood Hates Hitler, examines the 1941 Senate Investigation into Motion Picture Propaganda (University Press of Mississippi).
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