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Hollywood Raises Political Consciousness

Political Messages in Feature Films

Edited By Michael Haas

Feature films are jam-packed with political messages. This volume provides the tools for analyzing the politics embedded in films. Contributors reveal how subliminal messages are a clue to how the public perceives political reality through otherwise entertaining feature films.
The volume is divided into two parts: Part One focuses on defining political films while Part Two looks at how «politics» is defined within films. Contributors find several ways of defining «political films», but agree that while the messages in films may often seem progressive, they are usually quite conservative, with the aim of making as much money as possible for the people financing the films.
The book provides a history of political film and identifies several hundred films with specific political messages.
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My first interest in films was the reward for walking down Warren Boulevard in Detroit, quarter in hand, to attend the cartoons, documentaries, B- films (mostly Westerns), and then the A films (I recall only The Fountainhead in 1949) at the Alger Theatre every Saturday, beginning at noon.

In 1950, my parents moved to Hollywood, and soon my interest was jolted by a direct association with some movie personalities and their children. Among those whom I met were Bob Hope, Art Linkletter, Ann Sheridan, and fellow classmate Ricky Nelson. My father, a radio station executive, often handled public relations with the film industry. From the students of celebrities at schools and in college, I learned of the Hollywood Ten, the film industry’s work ban (the blacklist) on those who had leftist ties, and subpoenas of moviemakers by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

My interest in film receded when I went off to college in the mid-1950s, where I majored in political science. A few films were featured on the Stanford campus on Sunday nights, and friends noticed afterward that I was still caught up in the drama. Due to the blacklist, few feature films had political or social content in the 1950s and early 1960s. When I accepted employment at the University of Hawai‛i, I discovered that films exhibited in Honolulu also were mostly devoid of political content. Few of my colleagues had any interest in films, whereas I was the first to...

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