When Silent Films Were a Force for World Peace

In the 1920s, Moguls Pitched the Technology as a ‘Universal Language’ That Was More Than Mere Entertainment

By the 1920s, the standard-bearers of the Hollywood film industry had taken to speaking about movies in the loftiest terms—as saviors of humanity. Leading star and producer Douglas Fairbanks declared, “Pictures let us know each other. They’ll break down the hard national lines that make for war and suspicion.” Will Hays, president of the industry’s trade organization, said in 1925, “the motion picture may be … the greatest instrument humanity has yet known for the bringing about of understandings between man and man, between group and group and between nation …

When San Francisco Kicked Hollywood to the Curb

Angered by Negative Depictions of Their City, in the Early 1970s Civic Leaders Regulated Filmmakers Out of Town

Canada’s motion picture industry earned the nickname “Hollywood North” because the country so often serves as a center of location production for American films. But in the early 1970s, this …

How Jewish Was Stanley Kubrick?

The Director of 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut Had the 'Aura of a Talmudic Scholar' and Favored Plots Dealing With Cultural Outsiders

Many people are surprised to discover that legendary director Stanley Kubrick—whose masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey is 50 years old this year—was Jewish. He rarely spoke of it, his films …

Television and Film Have a Role to Play in Repairing a Fractured America

Despite the Bitterness Splintering the Nation, History Shows We’re “All in the Family"

In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn …

Los Angeles, Late 1980s

My knee-high lace-up moccasins made me
forget the nights my mother was lost in vodka.
I walked deep in the gunk of Hollywood.
The stretch of sidewalk glittered. Vendors
sold …