According to Ben Urwand’s new book, The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, not only did the Hollywood studios obediently bow to Hitler’s masters by killing scenes deemed objectionable, they even hired Nazis at Paramount. The head of MGM in Germany actually acceded to a request by Hitler’s henchmen to divorce his Jewish wife; she wound up in a concentration camp.
Standing against the Hollywood moguls, Urwand says, was Joseph Breen, the Irish Catholic who worked for, and eventually succeeded, Will Hays of the so-called Hays Office; the private association monitored Hollywood movies for objectionable fare. Looks like Breen’s commitment to decency trumped Hollywood’s commitment to cash.
Breen, no fan of how Hollywood conducted itself, didn’t balk when asked by the two authors of the Hays Code, Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Daniel Lord, to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism in 1939. Meanwhile, those running the movie industry cut and spliced films to meet Nazi approval.
Today Hollywood is in bed with China’s Communist censors, inviting them onto its sets to offer advice on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. If they don’t cooperate with the slave masters, they risk having their films spiked: the violent film “Django Unchained” was pulled from Chinese theaters on opening day in April.
When the Catholic League merely criticizes a movie, we are tagged a censor. When Hollywood studio chiefs cooperate with Chinese government agents by altering their films, they find ways to congratulate themselves. For example, Steven Soderbergh welcomes the input of Communist censors: “It’s fascinating to listen to people’s interpretation of your story.” He must have learned his obsequiousness from those who collaborated with Hitler.