in Technicolor and Cinemascope
Hollywood and Revolution on the Nile
In May 1957 representatives of two of the largest American multinationals in Egypt called at the U. S. embassy. The visitors were by then a familiar sight at the tree-lined grounds of Qasr al-Dubbara, because companies such as Metro-Goldywn-Mayer (MGM) and Twentieth Century-Fox, among other U. S. firms, were being saddled with new costs to doing business in their largest Middle East market.
The Egyptian economy had been on war footing since the Israeli attack on Port Said in November 1956. President Gamal Abdel Nasser had unleashed a punitive wave of expropriations against the French and British nationals who were the backbone of the foreign private sector. Controls on foreign-exchange remittances were tighter than at any time since World War II. Meanwhile, the populist policy currents associated with the March 1954 crisis and the Bandung conference in April 1955 grew stronger in the wake of the war. In the case of motion pictures, for the first time authorities passed specific legislation, in place of a long-standing informal or “gentlemen's agreement, ” requiring all theater owners to screen three locally produced films per year (Law No. 373, Official Gazette 88, November 3, 1956). The war, which led to a surge of arrests, internments, and deportations, also licensed the stepped-up stereotypes of Jewish control of the film industry and Hollywood's and the Egyptian-Jewish business community's financing of Israeli colonization. 1
Though lobbying by the U. S. embassy and U. S. firms had gained American big business virtually complete exemption from the 1957 Egyptianization decrees, Hollywood on the Nile was anticipating a new wave of institutional and fiscal measures by the state aimed at reorienting Egypt's cultural