Weird Film History at National Archives

Jason Dick
Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:45pm

One of Hollywood’s least favorable moments got the once-over at the National Archives on Wednesday when author Ben Urwand discussed his book, “The Collaboration” at the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater downtown.

His work details the agreement American studios made with German officials during Adolph Hitler’s rise to power, in which they agreed not to make movies that directly criticized Hitler in exchange for access to Germany’s film-hungry masses. It was bizarre behavior for American movie-makers, many of whom were of Jewish ancestry. But money makes people do stupid things.

Afterward, Urwand helped lead a discussion and screening of the 1940 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film “The Mortal Storm,” one of the few films of the era that took a critical look at the Nazis. Jimmy Stewart (who else?) plays a German who isn’t buying what the Ratzis are selling.