‘Hollywood and Hitler’ topic for Brandeis talk

Tom Doherty
Tom Doherty

Professor Tom Doherty, Ph.D., chair of the American studies program at Brandeis University and author of “Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939,” will present a University on Wheels lecture, “Jews, Nazis and Hollywood Cinema,” on Thursday, Jan. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

The Tucson Chapter of Brandeis National Committee and the Tucson J are cosponsoring the event, which includes a continental breakfast. The rise of the Third Reich, says Doherty, confronted Hollywood with a set of economic, cinematic and moral problems — how to conduct business with the Nazis; whether to address or ignore Nazism in Hollywood movies; and the coverage of Hitler and his victims in the newsreels. During the 1930s, the full meaning of Nazism was only slowly coming into focus.

Percolating under the surface of controversies over trade relations and motion picture content was the issue that for the Nazis overrode all others. In Berlin, Jews were Hitler’s chosen victims; in Hollywood, Jews were titans of industry, esteemed artists and adored stars. A decade of prosperity and visibility for American Jews, the 1930s was also a decade of simmering anti-Semitism. On radio, domestic demagogues snarled the old medieval slurs. Pro-Nazi outfits agitated openly for an American Reich. Might the virus in Germany spread to America? Should Hollywood’s Jews lie low — or stand tall and sound the alarm?

Tickets are $18 for members, $22 nonmembers. RSVP by Jan. 4 to Arlene Zuckerman at zuck4@juno.com or 577-1457. Proceeds benefit the BNC Tucson chapter’s scholarship fund, which helps send a Tucson student to Brandeis University.