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Foreign Devils

Exile and Host Nation in Hollywood’s Golden Age

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Gábor Gergely

Foreign Devils investigates representations of exile in Hollywood cinema from 1930 to 1956 through the films of Peter Lorre, Béla Lugosi, and Conrad Veidt. This book dispels the assumption that by virtue of its hegemonic, reactionary, and exclusionary modes of representation, otherness is excluded from or only obliquely alluded to in classical Hollywood cinema. This book contends that Hollywood uses European émigré actors to speak of the experience of exile and the often-futile exilic attempts at integration into the host nation.
This original, cross-disciplinary study incorporates a number of research interests in film studies – specifically Hollywood cinema, exile and émigré filmmakers, the Golden Age of the studio system, the Universal Horror cycle, and Poverty Row filmmaking. Foreign Devils combines the close reading of key texts with a theoretical framework that encompasses body theory and theories of space and nation with historical accounts of immigration to the United States and American concepts of nationhood through the symbolism of blood and death studies.
Film studies students and academics, both undergraduate and postgraduate, as well as scholars in other disciplines, and anyone with an interest in Hollywood cinema, Central European culture in the 1930s-1950s, and European emigration to the United States will benefit from reading this book. Foreign Devils is also a valuable resource for courses in Hollywood filmmaking, émigré film, exile, Central European culture, nationalism studies, and Jewish studies.

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How the Dead Live or the Exilic Space

Extract

C  H  D L   E S In the final scenes of Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey, ) Béla Lu- gosi’s mad scientist Dr Mirakle is on the verge of a breakthrough. He has finally acquired the test subject he needs for his experiment: Camille, a girl of pure blood. He is ready to plunge the needle and inject the girl with ape blood in order to prove, once and for all, that man is descended from the ape. At the eleventh hour, however, he is foiled. Camille’s suitor, the vapid medical student Pierre has led the police to Dr Mirakle’s doorstep. The police break down the sturdy doors to Dr Mirakle’s underground laboratory and invade his lair, the laboratory where he has toiled obsessively on finding the proof for evolution. As the police finally break into the mad doctor’s home, Erik, the smitten gorilla strikes down his master and kidnaps the unconscious girl. A rooftop chase ensues, and finally Pierre shoots the ape and frees his girlfriend. The scene, and the film as a whole, is rife with sym- bolism (some heavy-handed, others more subtle) and I shall seek to unpick these in Chapter  on the madness of the exilic scientist. What I feel necessary to discuss here at length, however, is the exilic lair, its representation and significance as an aspect of a discourse that constructs the exilic body. In my consideration of the ex- ilic space I rely heavily on the theoretical work of Henri...

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