Eight hundred German filmmakers (cast and crew) fled the Nazis in the 1930s. The film uses voice-overs, archival footage, and film clips to examine Berlin's vital filmmaking in the 1920s; ... See full summary »
Eight hundred German filmmakers (cast and crew) fled the Nazis in the 1930s. The film uses voice-overs, archival footage, and film clips to examine Berlin's vital filmmaking in the 1920s; then it follows a producer, directors, composers, editors, writers, and actors to Hollywood: some succeeded and many found no work. Among those profiled are Erich Pommer, Joseph May, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, and Peter Lorre. Once in Hollywood, these exiles helped each other, housed new arrivals, and raised money so others could escape. Some worked on anti-Nazi films, like Casablanca. The themes and lighting of German Expressionism gave rise in Hollywood to film noir. Written by
The story of the leading talents of the German film industry of the 1920s has been told before. How the writers, composers,directors, actors, producers and cinematographers, (many, if not most, of whom were Jewish) were forced to leave by the rise of Hitler and how their arrival in Hollywood introduced new styles and new ideas to the world's largest movie factories is a part of every American cinema history book.
This documentary is different. It covers the participants' individual stories in greater depth. While some exiles achieved fame (Marlene Dietrich, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Billy Wilder, Franz Waxman) others, such as Joe May and Erich Pommer were less adaptable and thus left their best efforts behind them.
"Cinema's Exiles" is a visual feast. The film clips are first rate and the home movies are remarkable. There are stills and excerpts and interviews that I had never seen before. The roll call of émigrés from the film "Casablanca" was especially revealing.
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