Caught in the crossfire : anti-fascism, anti-communism and the politics of Americanism in the Hollywood career of Adrian Scott / by Jennifer Langdon-Teclaw.
This dissertation uses the work of radical filmmaker Adrian Scott, particularly Crossfire (RKO-1947), to explore postwar discourses on Americanism, focusing especially on the intersection of anti-fascism and anti-Communism in the cultural construction of an imagined community of Americans. Crossfire a powerful, if sometimes pedantic, thriller in which a bigoted ex-GI murders a Jew, warned “good Americans” of the violent consequences of anti-Semitism and the American potential for fascism. Produced in the wake of the Allied victory over fascism and the revelation of the Holocaust, and at the nexus of the emerging Cold War, Crossfire represents a fascinating intervention into key debates in the postwar order: the place of difference within the American democratic tradition, and specifically the relationship of “Jew” and “radical” to the cultural construction of “America” and “American;” the relationship of Americanism to fascism and communism—equated as totalitarianism—in the postwar order; the role of film in shaping and reflecting the imagined community; and the possibilities and limitations of the American commitment to liberalism, universalist humanism, and cultural pluralism. This study weaves together industrial practices, cultural texts, and changing historical contexts to locate and understand Crossfire's significance at this critical cultural moment. The first two chapters are broadly contextual, focusing first on the struggles of Scott and his collaborators, screenwriter John Paxton and director Edward Dmytryk, to produce progressive films within the studio system, and next on Hollywood's role in the articulation of an anti-fascist, anti-racist, internationalist popular nationalism during World War II. The next section offers close readings of three key texts: the Scott-Paxton-Dmytryk anti-fascist thriller, Cornered (RKO-1945); Richard Brook's novel, The Brick Foxhole, the literary vehicle for Scott's expose of American anti-Semitism; and Crossfire itself. This section focuses particularly on the ideological work of the adaptation and production process, exploring changes from novel to film and within versions of the screenplay. The final section explores the public response to Crossfire by Jewish defense organizations, “average” Americans, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, arguing that the debates over Crossfire reflected the larger postwar struggle over the political meanings and uses of Americanism and un-Americanism.
Record last modified: 2018-05-24 14:02:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/bib77271