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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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You Are Men! Fight for Liberty! Hollywood Heroes and the Pan-American Bonds of World War II

You Are Men! Fight for Liberty! Hollywood Heroes and the Pan-American Bonds of World War II

(p.109) 4 You Are Men! Fight for Liberty! Hollywood Heroes and the Pan-American Bonds of World War II
Hollywood in Havana

Megan Feeney

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the distribution, exhibition, and reception in Havana of Hollywood’s fervently antifascist, pro-democratic films of World War II, a period which saw the high point of close US-Cuban relations. It opens with the US government’s wartime Office of Inter-American Affairs and its collaboration with Hollywood’s leftist filmmakers to convince Latin Americans that the United States was well-qualified to lead the global fight for Democracy—and against military dictators—and to convince Latin Americans to join that fight. Havana exhibitors, trade journalists, film critics, and moviegoers wholeheartedly embraced this propaganda and translated it into the national context, where the past decade had seen the popular overthrow of one strongman (Machado) and an ongoing debate about his successor (Batista, who legitimized his rule in a presidential election in 1940). Cubans in the film business community made Havana theaters, fanzines, and film columns effective sites for the dissemination of US wartime propaganda—not least of all about heroic freedom-fighting masculinity—and for linking the heroic War for Democracy to revolutionary Cuban nationalism. The chapter ends with the critical reception in Havana of four films: The Great Dictator, Keeper of the Flame, To Have and Have Not, and Watch on the Rhine.

Keywords:   antifascism, World War II, heroic masculinity, wartime Hollywood, propaganda, Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Hollywood Left, The Great Dictator, Cuba, nationalism

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