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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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The FBI’s Search for Communist Propaganda during the Second World War

The FBI’s Search for Communist Propaganda during the Second World War

(p.41) 2 The FBI’s Search for Communist Propaganda during the Second World War
J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies

John Sbardellati

Cornell University Press

This chapter illustrates how World War II triggered FBI surveillance of Hollywood. The grand alliance with the Soviet Union led Hoover and his G-men to fear that domestic Communists could take advantage of international conditions, pose as patriots, and thereby infiltrate vital national institutions—Hollywood being among the most important. Indeed, films such as Michael Curtiz's Mission to Moscow (1943) convinced the bureau that Hollywood had already fallen prey to the “red menace,” and it was during the war when the FBI institutionalized its massive surveillance program of the motion picture industry. In this endeavor, the FBI cast itself as a defender of American democracy, yet its investigation would soon have a disastrous impact on the careers of many left-wing film artists and on the freedom of the screen.

Keywords:   World War II, Hollywood, G-men, domestic Communists, Mission to Moscow, Hollywood surveillance

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