Hollywood: Swastika and Sickle
Accuracy in Academia ^ | August 2, 2013 | Malcolm A. Kline
Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:11:56 PM by Academiadotorg
“Urwand found that Nazi officials considered some American films ideologically useful—among them Gabriel Over the White House (1933), The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Our Daily Bread (1934), and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)—and that the studios expressly marketed certain titles in that vein,” Kafka writes. “ For instance, Gabriel Over the White House, an American fascist fantasia about a fed-up, divinely inspired president dissolving a chaotic Congress and whipping the United States into totalitarian shape, was touted by Frits Strengholt, an MGM executive in Germany, as resonating with Nazi work-mobilization, anticrime, and other efforts.”
“True, the 1934 picture was outperformed in Germany by Greta Garbo in Queen Christina, Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra, and Marlene Dietrich in The Scarlet Empress. But when the Prussian justice minister, the president of the German Film Chamber, and several higher-ups in the Foreign Office attend a special screening, and when Nazi critics applaud a movie for its appreciation of the ‘leader principle,’ clearly there are factors involved beyond box-office sizzle.”
Gabriel was a commercial success in America. “Ironically, Gabriel Over the White House turned out to be one of the biggest box office hits of 1933…,” Jeff Stafford wrote on the Turner Classic Movies web site. And, arguably, the afficianadoes of the flick in the Nazi government were nowhere near as enthusiastic about it as our own commander-in-chief—FDR.
Stafford notes that the star of the film, Walter Huston (grandfather of Angelica) “was always partial to Gabriel Over the White House since it ended up securing him an invitation to the White House for drinks with President Roosevelt, who was a big fan of the film.”
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