German Exiles in Hollywood: From Horror to Noir
160 | CCN: 31720
This course deals with the American films of German and Austrian filmmakers who fled to the United States when Hitler came to power. Complicating the notion of a national cinema, the films of these refugees negotiated between German expressionism and Hollywood’s popular genre cinema. The “German style” (distorted angles and harsh shadows) underscored the exilic experience of trauma, dislocation, and entrapment—a style that continues to influence the horror and noir films of today. We will also study texts by exiled philosophers (Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, et al.) who reflected on the fragility of democracy, the lure of totalitarianism, the role of political cinema in Hollywood, and the crisis of the American dream. We will consider Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Casablanca (Curtiz); Black Cat and Detour (Ulmer); To Be or Not to Be (Lubitsch); Sunset Boulevard (Wilder); Fury, You Only Live Once, and Scarlet Street (Lang), among others.