How Could Harvard Have Published The Collaboration ?

Part I: Short questions (and answers, please). Identify the question number (for ex. 1.b ; 4.) (9 pts)

Consider David Denby’s conclusion to his review of Ben Urwand’s book, « How Could Harvard Have Published The Collaboration ? » (2013):

« My own wish, for whatever it’s worth, is that Louis B. Mayer, the Brothers Warner, Harry Cohn, Adolph Zukor, and the others had puffed their chests and said the following in the thirties: “To hell with Gyssling and his threats. To hell with the anti-Semitic bastards in the country who want to see us drown. To hell with the Anti-Defamation League, which is telling us we can’t do anti-Nazi pictures or pictures with Jews in them because it would call attention to ourselves. We built a magnificent entertainment business, and we’re going to make the pictures we want to make.” But they didn’t say that. They negotiated, they evaded, they censored their creative people, they hid, they schemed to preserve their business in the future. They behaved cravenly. But they did not collaborate. »

1.a. Who are the men he mentions in the first sentence? (1 pt)


1.b. Why would they not want to « call attention » to themselves? (1 pt)


1.c. Who was Gys[s]ling and what was his role according to Urwand? (1 pt)


1.d. Summarize in your own words Denby’s main point in one sentence. (1 pt)


1.e. Who might have been the « anti-Semitic bastards » according to your knowledge of the history of the period or of one or two documents studied in the course? (1 pt)

2. Explain how the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, especially the following clause, helps us judge whether the Hollywood moguls collaborated with Nazi Germany : « The history, institutions, prominent people and citizenry of other nations shall be represented fairly ». (2 pts)

3. Explain why Thomas Doherty accused Ben Urwand’s book of being « slanderous » and « ahistorical. » (2 pts)

Part II: Interpretive questions (11 pts):

4. Consider this summary of Phyllis Bottome’s novel, The Mortal Storm (1938), on which the 1940 MGM film was based: “Freya is the center of the novel. She has inherited her father’s scientific talent and accepts his Jewish identity as her own. With the Nazis in power, the University of Munich ceases to welcome either Professor Roth or his daughter because they are Jews. Though pursued by the aristocratic Fritz Marburg, Freya falls in love with a peasant, Hans Breitner, whose devotion to Communism mirrors that of her stepbrothers to Nazism. When Hans tries to escape to Austria, following the Reichstag fire, Fritz and other Nazis, including Freya’s brother Olaf, ambush him. Hans is shot and dies in Freya’s arms. Upon learning that she is pregnant by Hans, Freya must decide whether to marry Fritz and accept the “new Germany” or escape toAmerica and pursue her medical career. For Freya, who takes pride in herJewish identity, the former option is unacceptable. After her father is executed in a concentration camp, she determines to escape from Germany.She leaves her infant son with Hans’s family and flees across the Austrian border, seeking a new life of independence and fulfillment.”

Identify the major changes the novel underwent in its transfer to film. Which one is for you the most significant or telling? Based on your knowledge of the American film industry in the late 1930s, explain why you think this change was made (6pts).

5. Identify the character facing Nathan Rotschild in this publicity still from The House of Rothschild (1934, you may not remember his name but you should know what role he plays in the story). Ben Urwand does not discuss this rather important character in his comments on the film in The Collaboration. Write a short essay summarizing Urwand’s reading of the film, the reasons for his omission of this character and how his interpretation of the film might have been different if he had discussed him. (5pts)

Bonus question (2 pts) : « For many critics Tarantino is the ultimate postmodern filmmaker who uses his well- documented infatuation with popular culture for a self-referential play with images as images, irrespective of their referents. » Explain this quotation from Sabine Hake’s discussion of Inglourious Basterds in Screen Nazis and give the example of one scene in the film to illustrate your answer.

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