City of Darkness, City of Light: Emigre Filmmakers in Paris by Alastair Phillips

By Alastair Phillips

The amount is the first-ever book-length research of the cinematic illustration of Paris within the motion pictures of German ?migr? filmmakers, lots of whom fled there as a safe haven from Hitler. In coming to Paris—a privileged website when it comes to construction, exhibition, and movie culture—these skilled execs additionally encountered resistance: hostility towards Germans, anti-Semitism, and boycotts from a French petrified of wasting jobs to foreigners. Phillips juxtaposes the cinematic portrayal of Paris within the motion pictures of Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Max Oph?ls, Anatol Litvak, and others with the broader social and cultural debates concerning the urban in cinema.

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Extra info for City of Darkness, City of Light: Emigre Filmmakers in Paris 1929-1939 (Film Culture in Transition)

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Yet the service that many of these filmmakers provided was indeed “indispensable” precisely because as foreigners they could enhance rather than The City in Context 43 subvert the needs of the French industry at a crucial period of transition. The interaction of industrial and national-based factors in this wave of pre-1933 emigration can be examined more closely by turning to two individual studies – Anatole Litvak and Kurt Courant. Case Study One: Anatole Litvak Anatole Litvak (See Appendix Three) stands as an under-explored but nonetheless exemplary example of the wave of émigré filmmakers who arrived in Paris in the early 1930s prior to 1933.

Firstly, there was the increasingly predatory nature of the Hollywood studios who were opening outlets in many of the European capitals. As Vincendeau (1988, 30) notes, “[b]y September 1931, all major US studios 42 City of Darkness, City of Light had established a presence (in terms of production, that is, since most of them were already present as distributors) in Europe: Warner Brothers, Universal, RKO, Paramount, United Artists and MGM in London; Paramount, United Artists and Fox in Paris; Fox and United Artists in Berlin”.

It was no wonder then that a number of important German-based filmmakers decided to take the opportunity to move and work with their non-“business sense” minded French contemporaries in Paris. Many of those who made the journey to the French capital took advantage of the pre-existing network of links between the two countries. One of the key staging posts, apart from Paramount and Tobis, was the newly established production company owned by Adolphe Osso called Société des Films Osso (See Appendix Two).

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