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J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the MoviesThe FBI and the Origins of Hollywood's Cold War$
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John Sbardellati

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450082

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450082.001.0001

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A Movie Problem

A Movie Problem

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 A Movie Problem
Source:
J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies
Author(s):

John Sbardellati

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801450082.003.0001

This chapter examines the “movie problem” during the 1920s and 1930s, when political battles for control of the screen focused first on issues of labor and class, and then, as fascism threatened Europe beginning with the Spanish Civil War, on issues of foreign policy. In the early 1920s, government officials led by J. Edgar Hoover and his Bureau of Investigation began monitoring filmmakers, fearing the production of films they considered Communist propaganda. However, in the wake of the first red scare, the bureau's powers were removed and federal surveillance of filmmaking ceased. Nevertheless, concerns over Communist propaganda remained. During the 1930s, Hollywood's internal censors in the Production Code Administration sought to prohibit the production of radical films. Yet the 1930s culture remained open to cinematic critiques from the left despite the efforts of these censors.

Keywords:   fascism, Spanish Civil War, foreign policy, Bureau of Investigation, Communist propaganda, Production Code Administration, radical films

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