Hollywood's Cold War

Hollywood's Cold War

Hollywood's Cold War

Hollywood's Cold War

Synopsis

Published at a point when American filmmakers are deeply involved in the War on Terror, this authoritative and timely book offers the first comprehensive account of Hollywood's propaganda role during the defining ideological conflict of the twentieth century: the Cold War. In an analysis of films dating from America's first Red Scare in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Tony Shaw examines the complex relationship between filmmakers, censors, politicians and government propagandists.Movies were at the centre of the Cold War's battle for hearts and minds. Hollywood's comedies, love stories, musicals, thrillers, documentaries and science fiction shockers - to list a few genres - played a critical dual role: on the one hand teaching millions of Americans why communism represented the greatest threat their country had ever faced, and on the other selling America's liberal-capitalist ideals across the globe.Drawing on declassified government documents, studio archives and filmmakers' private papers, Shaw reveals the different ways in which cinematic propaganda was produced, disseminated, and received by audiences during the Cold War. In the process, he blends subjects as diverse as women's fashions, McCarthyism, drug smuggling, Christianity, and American cultural diplomacy in India. His conclusions about Hollywood's versatility and power have a contemporary resonance which will interest anyone wishing to understand wartime propaganda today.Key features:• The first comprehensive account of Hollywood's role during the Cold War.•A new interrogation of the collaboration between filmmakers and government in the production of propaganda.•The use of primary documentation and new archival research make this book unique.

Excerpt

In the battle for mass opinion in the Cold War, few weapons were more powerful than the cinema. From the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, millions of people worldwide went to movie theatres every week, from the rundown fleapits of Calcutta to the airconditioned dream palaces of California. What they saw and heard on the big screen could have a profound influence on their comprehension of the Cold War – whether it was via British-made espionage comedies of the 1950s, East German-made outer-space adventures of the 1960s, American-made ‘paranoid’ thrillers of the 1970s, or Cuban-made allegorical vampire cartoons of the 1980s.

Over the past 50 years, considerable attention has focused on the ‘Great Fear’ that swept through Hollywood during the McCarthy era. For good reason: the late 1940s and early 1950s is commonly regarded as Tinsel town’s ‘darkest hour’, when producers were forced into making dozens of lurid ‘redbaiting’ movies and when scores of filmmakers’ careers were ruined by bogus accusations of communist subversion. More recently, historians have begun to set the American film industry’s Cold War role in a wider, international context, by, for instance, highlighting Hollywood’s willingness to export American ideals in line with the US State Department’s wishes. However, this celluloid ‘cultural diplomacy’ has yet to make serious inroads into mainstream Cold War historiography, while only a few scholars have taken the lead from the revelations of Hollywood-State Department collaboration to search for potential links between the film industry and other government agencies during the conflict.

This book is the first attempt to map out Hollywood’s treatment of the Cold War throughout the whole conflict. On one level, it is a work of film history, one that provides a comprehensive account of which plots, scenes and actors figured prominently on the American Cold War screen over a period of 70 years. On another level, Hollywood’s Cold War fuses film studies with diplomatic, social and political history. It looks behind the scenes to determine which individuals, political organisations and government departments were involved in the filmmaking process. It explains how the political . . .

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