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Hollywood in HavanaUS Cinema and Revolutionary Nationalism in Cuba before 1959$
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Megan Feeney

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226593555

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593722.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Teaching Eyes to See: The Advent of Cuban Film Criticism, 1928–1934

Teaching Eyes to See: The Advent of Cuban Film Criticism, 1928–1934

Chapter:
(p.49) 2 Teaching Eyes to See: The Advent of Cuban Film Criticism, 1928–1934
Source:
Hollywood in Havana
Author(s):

Megan Feeney

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226593722.003.0003

This chapter explores the beginnings of film criticism in Havana at the intersection of a political revolution in Cuba (to overthrow dictator Gerardo Machado and the Platt Amendment) and a technological revolution in Hollywood (the rise of sound cinema). A cohort of Havana intellectuals, known as the minoristas, adopted film criticism as a political modality to denounce Machado’s dictatorship and US imperial hegemony. They used Hollywood films as evidence of the ills of US society and culture (e.g., materialism, greed, anti-Hispanic racism) even as they began to identify allies in leftist filmmakers like Charles Chaplin. At the same time, they pointed to Hollywood business practices as concrete evidence that US imperial hegemony in Cuba amounted to exploitation rather than opportunity and to underdevelopment rather than progress. In other words, it was in this period that Cuban film critics began to model engagement with Hollywood characterized by the simultaneous denunciation of its general practices and appropriation of its most socially critical films toward the construction and mobilization of revolutionary Cuban nationalism. The chapter ends with the 1933 Cuban revolution (which overthrew Machado and the Platt Amendment) and with Hollywood and the Havana film business community in dire straits.

Keywords:   Cuban intellectuals, 1933 Cuban Revolution, sound cinema, film criticism, Charles Chaplin, Gerardo Machado, Platt Amendment, anti-imperialism, dictator, José Manuel Valdés-Rodríguez

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