A Divided World

Hollywood Cinema and Emigré Directors in the Era of Roosevelt and Hitler, 1933-1948

Nick Smedley

A Divided World

Nick Smedley

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

277 pages | 7 x 9 | © 2011
Paper $35.50 ISBN: 9781841504025 Published February 2011 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe

The New Deal introduced sweeping social, political, and cultural change across the United States, which Hollywood embraced enthusiastically. Then, when the heady idealism of the 1930s was replaced by the paranoia of the postwar years, Hollywood became an easy target for the anticommunists. A Divided World examines some of the important programs of the New Deal and the subsequent response of the film community—especially in relation to social welfare, women’s rights, and international affairs. The book also provides an analysis of the major works of three European directors—Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, and Fritz Lang—compared and contrasted with the products of mainstream Hollywood. This is a new interpretation of an influential period in American film history and it is sure to generate further debate and scholarship.



Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in America: American Society and Culture, 1933-1948
Chapter 2: The Keeper of the Flame: Hollywood and the Cinema of Liberal Idealism
Chapter 3: Trouble in Paradise: Hollywood Films and American Social Change
Case Study 1: ’Everything That Happens Must Be Strictly American’: Fritz Lang and Hollywood Idealism
Case Study 2: Sex, Violence and Alcohol: Billy Wilder in the 1940s
Chapter 4: The Devil is a Woman: Hollywood Films and the American Woman
Case Study 3: ’Definitely Bawdy and Offensively Suggestive’: Lubitsch and the American Woman
Case Study 4: ’Love Cures the Wounds it Makes’: Lang and Wilder: Conventional Portraits of the  American Women
Chapter 5: The World Changes: Hollywood and International Affairs
Case Study 5: ’World Political Theater’: Lubitsch and Foreign Affairs
Case Study 6: ’As Corruptible as the Others’: Wilder on America and Europe
Case Study 7: ’Propaganda Can be Art’: Lang and International Affairs




Review Quotes
Nigel Andrews | Financial Times

“A well-researched, often intelligent survey of Hollywood cinema during and after Roosevelt’s presidency.”

Stefan Kanfer | Wall Street Journal

“Smedley, a British film historian, devotes A Divided World to an examination of Hollywood before, during, and immediately after World War II. According to Smedley’s overview, the American film colony warmly embraced FDR’s liberal idealism of the 1930s. But in the 1940s, when the New Deal came increasingly under attack from Republicans, Hollywood did not rally a liberal defense and instead responded with a cinema of alienation and anxiety. Yet within this community of mostly American-born directors, Smedley notes, there emerged a brilliant trio of émigrés—Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang—who did not subscribe to the governing Hollywood approach. All three had worked in Berlin before the rise of the Third Reich. And all three made Hollywood films that were not only skillfully crafted but also profoundly different from the usual studio productions, “articulating criticisms of American society left unsaid by their contemporaries.”


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