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“Opening Up the Amusement Park”: Hollywood and The Garden of Alla – Guernica

Nazimova in Salomé, 1923

Nazimova in Salomé, 1923

“A completely new culture and social climate were being created, international in spirit and more urgent than almost any novel. I knew it was more important to see T-Men and White Heat than listen to F.R. Leavis lecturing on Virginia Woolf .”  —J. G. Ballard

The reasons that so many twentieth-century writers, everyone from Vladimir Nabokov to Angela Carter, turned to film as a metaphor for modernity were manifold, but part of the attraction was the internationalist milieu in which Hollywood evolved, one that helped the city become an important focus for radical idealism and then for the reaction against it. In the Silent era, skills were translatable: neither mother tongue nor accent were of concern when it came to joining a film’s cast or crew. So as Hollywood’s success and purchasing power grew, actors and directors were fetched from across the globe and by the early ’20s, Hollywood was cosmopolitan enough to have earned the name “Hollywood Babylon.”

A link to my essay on politics in Hollywood which appeared in Guernica on August 21st 2013.

Brecht at the HUAC hearings, 30.10.1947

Brecht at the HUAC hearings, 30.10.1947

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