Review Of "Hollywood In Berlin: American Cinema And Weimar Germany" By T. J. Saunders

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Based on the premise that "to treat Hollywood as extrinsic to national cinemas is simply inadmissable" and aiming to "contextualize the discourse on American cinema according to shifting German expectations," this book distinguishes three phases in the reception of American film during the Weimar Republic: initial distrust (during the heydey of the German Expressionist film), eager acceptance (following the stabilization of the Germany economy), and rejection (because of the coming of sound and a growing nationalistic sentiment anticipating the cultural introversion of the Nazi period). Saunders cites a wide, but not clearly differentiated, range of critics, who argue the importance of film in the (usually unwelcome) Americanization of German culture, but he touches on the politics of criticism only indirectly and is not concerned with gender-based aspects of audience response. His account of the fascinating debates about Von Stroheim's Greed (1923) and Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1924) reveals their representative importance, but often his methodology and style reflect the doctoral thesis: exhaustive reporting, perfunctory analysis, conclusions that are so soberly balanced or qualified as to be deadening, and a dearth of humor. Still, he marshalls extensive documentation and offers an important new understanding of film economics. Many intriguing photographs. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above.


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