Many of the writers, directors, composers and other artists who fled Nazi Germany ended up in Hollywood, where they changed the nature of American cinema and helped shape its “Golden Age.”
Their impact will be explored in “Light and Noir: Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950,” an exhibition that began at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and will receive its first Midwest showing Oct. 11, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie.
The exhibition chronicles the fascinating story of “immigration, acculturation, and innovation that intersects with the flourishing of Hollywood as an American cultural phenomenon.” Through costumes, props, film footage and personal memorabilia it suggests how many beloved films tell the story of Hollywood’s formative era through the lens of the émigré experience, and it focuses on film genres (the exile film, the anti-Nazi film, film noir, and comedy) in which these exiles and émigrés were especially productive.
“Light & Noir” homes in on such classic films as “Casablanca” and “Double Indemnity,” as well as on items that were unearthed from personal collections and from the vaults of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On view will be costumes worn by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Marlene Dietrich, and Joan Crawford, as well as one of Billy Wilder’s Academy Awards, Ernst Lubitsch’s 25-year anniversary album, the Max Factor Scroll of Fame, and furniture from the set of Rick’s Café in “Casablanca.”
According to Skirball curator Dr. Doris Berger, “’Light & Noir’ shows how exiled outsiders became Hollywood insiders, bringing a sensibility to filmmaking at once tragic and comic.”
Illinois Holocaust Museum CEO Susan Abrams noted: “Soon after Hitler came to power, he took control of the German film industry and used cinema to fuel his propaganda. We feel honored to have the opportunity to showcase this multi-decade chapter of cinema in which the American history may be familiar to some, but the refugee dimension is unknown to many.”
At the exhibition’s opening event, beginning at 2 p.m. on Oct. 11, local actors will perform scenes from “Casablanca” as a classic radio play, and Dr. Berger will explore themes from the exhibition. Reservations are required at http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/events.
Additional programs and film festivals will complement “Light & Noir” during the three-month run of this exhibition that is co-presented by the Skirball with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For more information visit http://www.illinoisholocaustmuseum.org.