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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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Breaking the Chains: Hollywood Noir in Postwar Havana, 1946–1952

Breaking the Chains: Hollywood Noir in Postwar Havana, 1946–1952

(p.147) 5 Breaking the Chains: Hollywood Noir in Postwar Havana, 1946–1952
Hollywood in Havana

Megan Feeney

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the distribution, exhibition, and reception of Hollywood films noir and social problem films in postwar Havana, identifying important shifts in Hollywood (politics, content, and business practices) and in US-Cuban relations—and their intersections. This chapter uses John Huston’s career—and his films We Were Strangers (set in revolutionary Cuba in 1933)as well as Key Largo and The Asphalt Jungle (which both refer to Cuba)—to describe both the Hollywood Left’s decline under the postwar Red Scare and its members’ determination to express their disillusionment (and dissent) through films noir, a cycle of “dark” films with profound critiques of US society. Hollywood noir proved popular in Havana, where audiences had their own reasons to be disillusioned from their wartime democratic idealism and to identify with noirs’ (anti)heroes, due to the political corruption, economic inequality, and violence growing under this period’s two Aútentico Party presidents in Cuba. Deteriorating relations in the Havana film business community shed further light on Cuban disillusionment not only with local politics but also with US imperial hegemony. This chapter includes the reception in Havana of a number of representative films, including We Were Strangers, Sunset Boulevard, Monsieur Verdoux, and All the King’s Men.

Keywords:   film noir, Aútentico Party, political corruption, John Huston, We Were Strangers, Hollywood Left, film criticism, film reception, anti-imperialism, film business

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