Academy Museum Set Six-Week Film Series And Symposium On Impact Of Austrian Jews In Hollywood From Wilder To Zinnemann
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be taking a trip to Vienna for a six-week programming initiative including a symposium and film series with a distinct cinematic connection to that fabled Austrian city.
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The museum announced today the series launch on December 10 and running through January 31. It is designed to explore what the museum describes as the “large community of predominately Jewish, Austrian-born film artists and professionals who helped shape the films and industry of classical era Hollywood.” Titled “Vienna in Hollywood: Emigres and Exiles in the Studio System,” the series is presented in collaboration with the USC Libraries and the USC Max Kade Institute. The Austrian Consulate General in L.A. also is offering support.
Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum, said: “During the classical Hollywood era, so many beloved films and so many components of the movie industry were developed and shaped by Austrian émigrés, including Erich von Stroheim, Max Steiner, Vicki Baum, Fritz Lang, and many others. The Academy Museum is deeply committed to scholarly and dynamic explorations of film history. We are thrilled to be presenting the work and vision of these groundbreaking film artists and professionals who are a core part of our cinematic history.”
As the museum’s release describing the core of the effort describes it, “in the early 20th century, the nascent film industry in Hollywood was largely built by Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe, including many Austrians from regions of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the 1920s, Austrian artists including actor-director Erich von Stroheim and composer Max Steiner came to the US seeking better opportunities in the American film industry. A much larger wave of mostly Jewish émigrés arrived in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s largely due to Nazi persecution in Germany and the Anschluss in Austria. These Austrian émigrés included directors Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Fred Zinnemann, and Otto Preminger, actors Hedy Lamarr, Peter Lorre, and Paul Henreid, producers Eric Pleskow and Sam Spiegel, screenwriters Vicki Baum, Gina Kaus, and Salka Viertel, as well as composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Ernest Gold. These artists, along with many other émigrés who worked as writers, composers, actors, producers, cinematographers, talent agents, costume designers, and production designers, had a profound impact on Hollywood. The Academy Museum’s six-week Vienna in Hollywood series presents and contextualizes the work of these groundbreaking artists.”
Doris Berger, senior director of curatorial affairs at the Academy Museum, said: “Many are familiar with the fascinating story that Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe were the founding fathers of Hollywood in the early 20th century. It is a privilege to collaborate with colleagues from USC and the Austrian Consulate to spotlight the lesser-known film and cultural history of the significant contributions of Austrian émigrés to the look and sound of classic era Hollywood.”
Paul Lerner, professor of history at USC and director of USC’s Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies, said: “The Max Kade Institute is thrilled to partner with the museum and USC Libraries for this wonderful series of events on the unique Austrian contributions to Hollywood cinema and Austrian and American cross-cultural cinematic currents. Vienna in Hollywood perfectly embodies the Institute’s founding mission of documenting the lives and work of German-speaking émigrés and exiles in Southern California, those predominately Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Central Europe who shaped the landscapes and cultures of Los Angeles in the 1940s and beyond.”
The Academy’s long-awaited museum, which opened to the public on September 30, has promised an ever-evolving policy of various exhibitions and programming that will examine motion picture history from many angles. There was some initial criticism in some corners that the museum was not focusing enough on early pioneers of the industry, including many who were Jewish, who built it, but apparently the museum programmers have had previously unannounced aspects of this storied history in the works including this series and two-day symposium beginning December 10 zeroing in on the Austrian influence and impact over the past 100 years on the Hollywood Film Industry. Panels will take place at USC on the 10th and the Academy Museum on the 11th with a tba lineup of scholars and filmmakers. Panel subjects will include Composers and their Legacies; Women Writers and Exile Networks; Vienna Film Exiles Below the Line; Directors; Wien Kultur; and Vienna and Hollywood Today.
“Vienna In Hollywood” will be laser-focused on the movies of those Austria-born Jewish film artists who came to Hollywood, some escaping persecution from the Nazis and rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Opening night film at the Museum’s premier David Geffen Theatre will be the Oscar winning Best Picture of 1943, Casablanca. It is described by the museum as “perhaps the most iconic émigré production of them all, a film about transit papers and escaping Fascism”. It was directed by Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz, scored by Austrian-born composer Max Steiner, and starring a pair of screen icons both from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, Paul Henreid and Peter Lorre. Although widely screened in revival houses, on television, and in various home video formats, this particular showing should be a real treat for cineastes as it will be a rare chance to see it in a vintage nitrate print courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art and will be the first nitrate print publicly screened at the Academy Museum which is one of the few venues equipped to even show the flammable nitrate format.
According to the museum plans other artists and films presented as part of the series include directors Max Reinhardt (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Josef von Sternberg (Dishonored), Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd., A Foreign Affair), Fritz Lang (Hangmen Also Die!), Otto Preminger (Whirlpool) and Fred Zinnemann (The Search), composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (The Adventures of Robin Hood) and screenwriter Salka Viertel (Queen Christina). This series also showcases lesser-screened gems that feature the talents of exiles in various roles in front of and behind the camera, including The Girl Downstairs (starring Franciska Gaal), The Garden of Allah (the debut role for Tilly Losch), Hotel Berlin (written by Vicki Baum), and Dorothy Arzner’s big city melodrama Dance, Girl, Dance (also written by Vicki Baum). This film series is programmed by Bernardo Rondeau with thanks to Doris Berger, and notes by Kiva Reardon, Bernardo Rondeau, and Robert Reneau.
Here is selection of the films being screened, all at the Ted Mann Theatre other than the opener at the Geffen:
Sat, Dec 11 | 7:30pm | David Geffen Theater
Everybody comes to Rick’s Café in Casablanca—for drinks, gambling, intrigue, Sam’s (Dooley Wilson) piano, and most importantly, exit visas. The romance of Hollywood’s classical era is central to this seminal film, full of iconic stars including Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and Habsburg Empire émigrés Paul Henreid and Peter Lorre. Émigré Michael Curtiz’s Oscar-winning direction of this Best Picture winner is as elegant as the endlessly quotable dialogue is witty, and (another émigré) Max Steiner’s nominated score incorporates the unforgettable “As Time Goes By.”
Director: Michael Curtiz.
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains.
103 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm nitrate.
Sun, Dec 12 | 2pm | Ted Mann Theater (TMT)
“People come, people go. Nothing ever happens” laments the hotel’s bitter resident Dr. Otternschlag, but in this glamourous Best Picture-winning classic, the “people” include such cinema legends as Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, and a young and vibrant Joan Crawford, and the “nothing” includes burglary, murder, romance, and a dying man’s final wish. Austrian writer Vicki Baum penned the original, best-selling novel (Menschen im Hotel) before moving to Hollywood to launch a successful screenwriting career.
Director: Edmund Goulding.
Cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery.
115 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Sat, Dec 18 | 2pm | TMT
A group of top Hollywood stars took a rare venture into Shakespeare with this lavish filming of The Bard’s classic romantic fantasy, starring James Cagney as Bottom, Olivia de Havilland as Hermia, and a 14-year-old Mickey Rooney as Puck. A Best Picture nominee, the film is a collaboration between Max Reinhardt, a visionary of the Austrian theater, and German-born director William Dieterle. Hal Mohr’s luscious cinematography and Ralph Dawson’s editing both received Oscars. Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold adapted the music of Mendelssohn for the film’s score. Sherry Shourds also received a rare write-in nomination for the short-lived category of Best Assistant Director.
Directors: Max Reinhardt, William Dieterle.
Cast: James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Dick Powell, Jean Muir.
132 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Sat, Dec 18 | 7:30pm | TMT
A household name of the Austrians in Hollywood cohort is director Josef von Sternberg, who is also known for his collaborations with German American icon Marlene Dietrich. Working with the star for the third time, here von Sternberg sets his tale in his native country. Dietrich plays a Mata Hari-like secret agent, who, under the orders of the Austrian Secret Service in the early days of WWI, is sent on a deadly mission to spy on the Russians.
Director: Josef von Sternberg.
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Warner Oland.
91 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
THE GARDEN OF ALLAH
Sat, Dec 18 | 9:30pm | TMT
The Garden of Allah was producer David O. Selznick’s first complete Technicolor saga. Set in the picturesque deserts of Northern Africa, the film tells the story of two wandering foreigners who find each other during a moment of personal crisis. Each cast against type—Marlene Dietrich is a wealthy, pious woman on a pilgrimage to the Sahara while Charles Boyer is a tortured Trappist monk escaped from his monastery—they embark on a romantic quest, albeit one marred by gibberish “Arabic” and a cast of supporting characters chiefly in brownface. Recipient of a Special Award for its color cinematography, this three-strip tour de force also features the unforgettable Hollywood debut of the Austrian-born ballerina-turned-actress Tilly Losch as a sensual café performer.
Director: Richard Boleslawski.
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Charles Boyer, Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith.
80 min. USA. Color. English. 35mm.
Sun, Dec 19 | 2pm | TMT
An actress in Austria and Germany, Salka Viertel joined her husband in his move to Hollywood in 1928 and took up screenwriting under contract at MGM. There, she worked predominantly on Greta Garbo’s films, contributing to the scripts for the actress’s most famous sound film roles including Anna Karenina (1935) and Queen Christina, in which Garbo plays the regent of Sweden. A biographical drama (only the third feature film to be photographed in three-strip Technicolor), the film follows the historical figure’s choice between her country and her heart when she falls for a Spaniard.
Director: Rouben Mamoulian.
Cast: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone.
1933 . 99 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
Sun, Dec 26 | 2pm | TMT
Errol Flynn steals from the rich, woos the lovely Olivia de Havilland, battles the intrigue of Claude Rains, and clashes swords with Basil Rathbone in this lighthearted, swashbuckling, eye-popping Technicolor classic, which received three Oscars and a Best Picture nomination. Austro-Hungarian Michael Curtiz—whose peerless eye for staging is unmistakable—shared the directing credit with William Keighley, while Austrian Erich Wolfgang Korngold won an Oscar for one of cinema’s all-time greatest adventure scores.
Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley.
Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains.
104 min. USA. Color. English. [Format TBD].
DANCE GIRL DANCE
Tue, Dec 28 | 7:30pm | TMT
A best-selling novelist in Austria, Vicki Baum emigrated first to New York then to Hollywood in the early 1930s, where she worked at MGM and Paramount. Several of her stories and novels were transformed for the screen, including Dance, Girl, Dance (and Hotel Berlin and Grand Hotel, which screen in this series). Directed by Dorothy Arzner, the comedy-drama stars Lucille Ball and Maureen O’Hara as out-of-work dancers who turn to burlesque to make ends meet. A flop on its release, it has since gained critical recognition for its subversive take on the male gaze.
Director: Dorothy Arzner.
Cast: Maureen O’Hara, Louis Hayward, Lucille Ball, Virginia Field.
90 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
THE GIRL DOWNSTAIRS
Tue, Dec 28 | 9:20pm | TMT
Set amidst the upper crust of Berne, Switzerland, this screwball comedy finds playboy Franchot Tone posing as a chauffeur to gain access to the mansion of his love interest (Rita Johnson). Part of his plan involves seducing “the girl downstairs”—farm girl turned maid, played by Austro-Hungarian Franciska Gaal. Helmed by prolific studio director Norman Taurog, this rarely screened madcap film is one of Gaal’s final starring roles.
Director: Norman Taurog.
Cast: Franciska Gaal, Franchot Tone, Walter Connolly, Reginald Gardiner.
77 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Sun, Jan 2 | 2pm | TMT
Five-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what is now Romania. Immortal as the loin-clothed Tarzan in this early sound adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s iconic series, Weissmuller has a unique nemesis in this, his seventh film as the Ape Man: the Nazis. Directed by Austrian-born William Thiele, Tarzan Triumphs find the Third Reich descending on the lost jungle city of Palandrya and enslaving its people. Will Tarzan and his menagerie of animals come to the rescue?
Director: William Thiele.Amm
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield, Frances Gifford, Stanley Ridges.
77 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
HANGMEN ALSO DIE
Mon, Jan 3 | 7:30pm | TMT
The killing of Nazi Reich-Protector Reinhard “Hangman of Europe” Heydrich by members of the Czech underground in Prague inspired this fictionalized retelling, which went into production only four months after the assassination. Produced and directed by Austrian Fritz Lang, it doubles as a nail-biting thriller and a complex moral drama; German theater legend Bertolt Brecht cowrote the film’s story, and Austrian composer Hanns Eisler received an Oscar nomination for his brief but dramatic score.
Director: Fritz Lang.
Cast: H.H. v. Twardowski, Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Anna Lee.
131 min. USA. B&W. English, German. DCP.
Sun, Jan 9 | 2pm | TMT
Based on the novel by Vicki Baum (who also penned Dance, Girl, Dance and Grand Hotel), Hotel Berlin unfolds in a heavily bombed Berlin during the last days of WWII. The high-end hotel has become a crossroad for Nazis, an escaped prisoner, civilians, and spies alike. In these close quarters, tensions erupt as the characters seek a way out as Allied planes fly closer. The film stars Austrian-born Helmut Dantine (also seen in Casablanca).
Director: Peter Godfrey.
Cast: Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, Raymond Massey, Andrea King.
98 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Sun, Jan 16 | 2pm | TMT
Winner of four Academy Awards and working across several genres, director Fred Zinnemann’s films include A Man for All Seasons (1966), High Noon (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), and Oklahoma! (1955). Zinnemann was interested in fusing documentary and fiction; in the case of The Search he returned to Europe for the first time since emigrating to film the story of a son and mother searching for each other in a postwar ravaged Europe.
The Search plays with Zinnemann’s Academy Award-nominated short film Forbidden Passage, about a father who illegally enters the United States.
Director: Fred Zinnemann.
Cast: Addison Richards, Wolfgang Zilzer, Hugh Beaumont, George Lessey.
21 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
A FOREIGN AFFAIR
Sat, Jan 22 | 2pm | TMT
Austrian Billy Wilder returns to Europe for this black comedy set in postwar Germany. Featuring sequences shot in the actual ruins of Berlin, this Hollywood take on the rubble film (Trümmerfilm) finds straitlaced Iowa congresswoman Jean Arthur on a fact-finding visit to the American Occupation Zone where not everything is as it seems. As she becomes entangled in a love triangle involving the slippery Captain John Pringle (John Lund) and his German paramour, cabaret-singer Marlene Dietrich in her classic maneater mode, Wilder creates a riotous, decadent panorama of a world caught between the past and the future.
Director: Billy Wilder.
Cast: Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund, Millard Mitchell.
116 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Sat, Jan 29 | 2pm | TMT
Gene Tierney reunites with her Laura director—Austrian-born Otto Preminger—for this entrancing noir. Tierney plays the brooch-snatching wife of famous psychiatrist Richard Conte from whom she keeps her kleptomania a secret. She is lured by astrologist-turned-hypnotist José Ferrer for a cure and slowly becomes ensnared in a sinister plot out of her control. This twisty thriller from one of classic Hollywood’s most boundary-pushing producer-directors is also an incisive look at the mental and emotional toll of modern life.
Director: Otto Preminger.
Cast: Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, José Ferrer, Charles Bickford.
97 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Mon, Jan 31 | 7:30pm | TMT
Classic 1950s Hollywood crashes headfirst into the wreckage of silent cinema in this witty, haunting, and pitiless look at the perils of stardom. Gloria Swanson made herself a legend all over again in her Oscar-nominated role as the unforgettable Norma Desmond, William Holden (also nominated) is the perfectly charming and cynical hack writer Joe Gillis, and Austrian director Erich von Stroheim plays the heartbroken butler. Arguably the crowning achievement of producer-director-screenwriter Billy Wilder’s career, the film features an unsettling, Oscar-winning score by Franz Waxman, won Best Art Direction and Best Story and Screenplay, and was nominated for a total of 11 Academy Awards.
Director: Billy Wilder.
Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson.
110 min. USA. B&W. English. 35mm.
Click here to view the full program online.
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