Right up to, and even for a while after, the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, the predominant attitude in Hollywood towards fascism was classic three-wise-monkeys strategy – pretend it’s not there and perhaps it’ll go away. Partly this was due to the belief that movie-going audiences would be turned off by politics: that “the purpose of the screen, primarily”, as Joseph I. Breen, the industry’s all-powerful censor, maintained, “is to entertain and not to propagandize”. (His italics.) No less influential was the fear that any films that offended the Nazi government might entail the loss of the German market to the studio involved. There was little risk of anyone overlooking this last consideration: the German consul in Los Angeles, Georg Gyssling, kept himself closely informed on all forthcoming movie projects and was quick to complain to Breen, to the relevant studio heads or even to Washington about anything he believed might impugn the honour of the Führer or the Reich.
Read full review.