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Here's Looking at You

Hollywood, Film and Politics, Fourth Edition

Ernest Giglio

Now in its updated and expanded fourth edition, Here’s Looking at You: Hollywood, Film & Politics examines how the tangled relationship between Hollywood’s global film industry and the politics of federal and state governments manifests itself in the real world of political campaigns and in the fictional world of Hollywood films.

The book contradicts the film industry’s assertion that it produces nothing but entertainment. While it is true that the vast majority of Hollywood films are strictly commercial ventures, hundreds of movies—from Birth of a Nation to The Help, recreated stories like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and historical pieces such as Lincoln and The Conspirator—contain political messages, both overt and covert.

This new edition begins with President Obama’s re-election and includes new photos and statistical data, three new chapters and eight case studies that provide in-depth analysis of special films that are certain to challenge existing views and stimulate classroom discussion. Here’s Looking at You serves as a basic text for courses in film and politics and as a supplement in American government and film studies courses. Film buffs and general readers will also find it of interest.

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Chapter 2. In Search of the Political Film

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Chapter 2

In Search of the Political Film

In a scene from the film Casablanca, Claude Rains, who plays the corrupt Vichy French police chief, Captain Renault, warns Humphrey Bogart, the cynical American owner of Rick’s Café:

Renault: We’re going to make an arrest in your cafe.

Rick: Again?

Renault: This is no ordinary arrest, a murderer no less. If you’re thinking of warning him, don’t put yourself out. He cannot possibly escape.

Rick: I stick my neck out for nobody.

Renault: A wise foreign policy.

Does this scene at the beginning of Casablanca set up the audience to expect an anti-Nazi, pro-Allies political film? Released to theaters in 1942 to take advantage of the Allied invasion of North Africa, this classic film has earned high praise from screen critics and film buffs alike. Once considered by Warner Brothers to be a B-list production, with a script crafted by four different writers, often on the day of filming, Casablanca has become a Hollywood legend. Ranked second only to Citizen Kane on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) best 100 films list, Casablanca has inspired numerous books and articles over the past 70 years.1 Yet no consensus exists on the question of whether Casablanca is essentially a romantic drama, a political film, or both.

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