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Hollywood’s Chosen People

The Jewish Experience in American Cinema

Daniel Bernardi

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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p. ix-ix

The editors are grateful for extraordinary help toward the production of this volume received from the Center for Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. Dawn Beeson gave energetic support beyond the call of duty. We also thank our colleagues...

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Introduction: The Hollywood Question

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pp. 1-18

This book sets out to mark a new and challenging path to the understanding of the role of Jews and their experience in Hollywood filmmaking. Since the beginnings of the Hollywood film industry at the turn of the last century, Jews have contributed—as executives, producers...

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A Forgotten Masterpiece: Edward Sloman’s His People

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pp. 19-34

As a popular, visual medium, the American cinema appeals to vast and diverse audiences and thus provides unique opportunities for the study of popular cultural attitudes. These mass-market films possess the inherent ability to translate social viewpoints...

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Jewish Immigrant Directors and Their Impact on Hollywood

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pp. 35-52

This essay reconsiders some effects of displacement and immigration on the work of film artists and intellectuals of the early and mid-twentieth century. During the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of German-speaking writers and film professionals lived and worked...

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“A Rotten Bunch of Vile People with No Respect for Anything Beyond the Making of Money”: Joseph Breen, the Hollywood Production Code, and Institutionalized Anti-Semitism in Hollywood

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pp. 53-72

Consider this. A Jew becomes Americanized only in direct proportion to his becoming de-Judaized. But that’s a tightrope performance. Yearning to be Americanized, that is, to be accepted...

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Stardom, Intermarriage, and Consumption in the 1950s: The Debbie-Eddie-Liz Scandal

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pp. 73-90

A Photoplay story about MGM stars unwittingly symbolized the transition from wartime rationing to a cornucopia of goods in postwar America. Liz Taylor, accustomed to expensive restaurant menus, ordered steak for lunch at the studio commissary, while Debbie Reynolds brought ham and cheese on rye in a brown bag. Curious about the plainer fare unwrapped by her thrifty friend, Liz suggested they swap...

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Hats off for George Cukor!

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pp. 91-110

In the fall of 1981, George Cukor spent several days at Harvard to help promote Rich and Famous, which turned out to be his last—and perhaps most vastly underrated—film. In preparation for his visit to the class I was teaching on film directors...

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Notes on Sontag and “Jewish Moral Seriousness” in American Movies

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pp. 111-124

In her widely read 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’ ” Susan Sontag places the camp aesthetic in direct opposition to a more elevated mode, in what seems almost like a throwaway thought...

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The Good German?: Oskar Schindler and the Movies, 1951–1993

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pp. 125-140

The worldwide success of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in 1993 and 1994 turned its protagonist, Oskar Schindler, into a curious kind of household name. The name “Schindler” not only came to represent this one individual, a Nazi party member and war...

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Representing Atrocity: September 11 through the Holocaust Lens

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pp. 141-158

The attacks of September 11 unleashed waves of media representation that served multiple and often conflicting purposes. Among them were three imperatives of the American mass media: the journalistic need to report an overwhelmingly important news event to the American and international publics; the commercial need to attract...

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David Mamet’s Homicide: In or Out?

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pp. 159-172

When one thinks of Jewish American literary or cinematic artists, the name of David Mamet does not immediately leap to mind. Instead, on the literary front, one considers such figures as Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Erica Jong, Saul Bellow...

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Boy-Man Schlemiels and Super-Nebishes: Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller

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pp. 173-192

“The neurotic nebbish is out, the swaggering ass-kicker is in,” proclaimed a December 2003 cover story in Timeout New York entitled “The New Super Jew.” “From music and film to comedy and fashion, Jewish artists and performers are exploring edgy new personas,” the piece declared (Rakoff). The article’s cause célèbre was the recently released...

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Who Was Buddy Love?: Screen Performance and Jewish Experience

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pp. 193-210

Two chronologies, two histories, and thus two forms of life run in tandem through our conception of time. One of these, which we may think of as a relative history, positions events in a linear order that is more or less agreed upon by members of a culture who share a language for interaction and system of reference for orientation...

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Assimilating Streisand: When Too Much Is Not Enough

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pp. 211-228

Let me pose a troubling question: Why do so many people in our culture (Jews and non-Jews alike) hate Barbra Streisand? Certainly, no other major “star of David” has been so celebrated and yet so reviled as she of the voice like “buttah” and “she, who must be obeyed...

Works Cited

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pp. 229-244


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pp. 245-250


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pp. 251-270

Back Cover

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p. 271-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780814338070
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334829

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series