Hollywood and Politics 1932-1948 From New Dawn to Cold War

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Hollywood film expert Nick Smedley exposes us to the often-overlooked political programme expounded in Hollywood's supposedly escapist cinema. With extracts from classic films by Frank Capra, Orson Welles, John Huston, Fritz Lang and others, Nick will chart the close alliance between the American film industry and the four terms of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Be prepared to be enlightened, surprised and entertained!

While Hollywood seldom made overtly political films in the 1930s and 1940s, the American cinema industry embraced the liberal politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt's ‘New Deal’ with unabashed enthusiasm. Highlighting social injustices and criticising unbridled capitalism, Hollywood films developed a whole new lexicon of liberalism in the 1930s. The arrival of the 'little man' who stands up to the oppressive forces of big business and corruption; the rejection of success and money for the softer values of community and reputation - these themes marked a significant new direction for American cinema.

But the arrival of the 1940s, the decline of FDR's social programme and the onset of the Cold War saw a marked change in Hollywood. As the liberal film-makers dived for cover, the forces of reaction and anti-Communism came looking for scapegoats - and found them in Hollywood. The films of the 1940s were no longer celebratory and life-affirming; instead, they were dark, pessimistic and lonely, Film noir was born.

Nick Smedley is a distinguished freelance historian of American cinema since 1930, an entertaining speaker and the author of two books on Hollywood cinema and American society, from 1930 to the present day.

Tickets £10 (Friends/Students £9)

Sat 16 Jun 10:00 – 15:00 (Studio)




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