Doherty Presents Hollywood and Hitler: The back story, at Drew University, Nov. 13

November 12th, 2014

In the last years of the 20th century, Hollywood was big on causes.

But in the 1930s, American cinema was virtually silent on one of history’s most urgent moral issues: The rising persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

hollywood and hitler by thomas dohertyThis silence was especially curious because the era’s most powerful movie moguls were Jews, who themselves had fled Russian pogroms a generation earlier.

Presenting at the daylong conference, Hollywood and Nazi Germany, 1933-1945, Stories Told/Stories Untold, Professor Doherty, author of Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939, will delve deeper into this complex story with a panel of experts at Drew University in Madison on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.

Read more about the conference and Professor Doherty’s talk here.

“Hollywood and Hitler: 1933-1939” By Thomas Doherty

October 17th, 2013

Doherty Hollywood and Hitler

A Special Event with Thomas Doherty

September 12th, 2013

American Studies professor Thomas Doherty, author of Hollywood and Hitler 1933-1939, introduces the rarely screened I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany (1936), the true story of of Isobel Lillian Steele, imprisoned by the Nazis for espionage in 1934, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 9, 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the National Center for Jewish Film.


American Studies Faculty News: Three Brandeis Professors at BAAS in London

May 3rd, 2012

American Studies Professors Tom Doherty, Maura Farrelly and Steve Whitfield all attended the British Association for American Studies Annual Conference in April 2012.

From left: Tom Doherty, Maura Farrelly, Steve Whitfield

Doherty, currently teaching in Singapore at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, gave the keynote address, “The Only Studio with Any Guts”: Warner Bros. and Nazism, 1933-1941. Farrelly’s presentation was “There is Nothing in Sacred Writ against Indulgence in the Weed”: Tobacco’s Challenge to Methodist Asceticism, while Whitfield gave a presentation titled “The Theme of Indivisibility in the Postwar Struggle Against Prejudice.”

Professor Tom Doherty on “The Last Bow for 35mm Film”

March 1st, 2012

Professor Tom Doherty, currently in Singapore teaching, wrote a timely piece for the History News Network that focuses on the Oscars, film history, and the end of 35mm film:

For a medium born in the nineteenth century, 35mm motion picture projection has had a remarkably long run. The system was initially fired up in 1895 in Paris, when the pioneering filmmaker-entrepreneurs Auguste and Louis Lumiere first projected 35mm celluloid onto a screen in public space for money, which is a pretty good definition of the movies. Throughout the twentieth century, the 35mm format remained the standard gauge for filming and exhibition. The Kodak film stock got more sensitive, the resolution sharper, and the light cast on the screen more powerful, but the size of the strip remained the constant gold standard for the spectacle of cinema, the difference between a big night out at the Bijou and a mere home movie, the latter being shot in formats of 16mm, 8mm, and super-8mm, before videotape cameras deep-sixed the lower film gauges.  Practically every director in Hollywood had to pose for the same publicity shot: unspooling a strip of 35mm at an editing board, he narrows his eyes and pretends to inspect the image on the frame.

After a century of unquestioned hegemony, however, 35mm is being wiped off the screen. Perhaps not coincidentally, the close of 2011 witnessed this pair of heartfelt elegies for the old medium: Hugo, a love letter to early cinema and film preservation, and The Artist, a homage to the silent era and an argument for the superfluity of spoken dialogue. Both, appropriately, have deep-French connections, both luxuriate in all things filmy, and both showcase protagonists who get literally entwined and almost consumed by strips of 35mm celluloid.

Hoover cross-dressing story looks shabby

February 13th, 2012

Out of theaters and out on DVD now, the biopic “J. Edgar” was roundly panned by critics, including American Studies professor Tom Doherty, quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s article “Hoover cross-dressing story looks shabby“:

With the opening of the film “J. Edgar,” however, the transvestite legend is likely to get fresh legs. While the movie sidesteps any reference to cross-dressing parties the G-man is alleged to have attended, it does include a poignant scene of a deeply grieving Hoover caressing, then donning, his just-deceased mother’s necklace and dress.

Why the obsession with Hoover in a dress?

It’s “the sheer snicker-inducing incongruity of the visual … the delicious irony in the spectacle of the man who kept everyone else’s secrets having such a transgressive one of his own,” said Thomas Doherty, a Brandeis University professor and author of “Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture.”

Leave a comment if you’ve seen the movie. What did you think?


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