In the popular imagination, the Thirties was the “golden age” of American cinema, the great decade in which the studios produced such memorable films as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and It Happened One Night.
The only reference that remained was a shot of a piece of paper on which Dreyfus’s religion was written.
And just before the film was released, there was a request for this to be cut too: “Take out the last part of the insert where the finger runs across under the line, ‘Religion Jew.’” But for some reason the request was not carried out, and hard as it may be to believe, this one-second shot turned out to be one of the few explicit references to a Jew in American cinema for the remainder of the Thirties.
Sandra was caught up in the melee as a bystander ran past her and caused her to lose her footing.
She began to stumble with a look of shock and dismay on her face.
Although few remarked on it at the time, these men followed the instructions of the German consul in Los Angeles, abandoning or changing a series of pictures that would have exposed the brutality of the Nazi regime.
(An executive named Fritz Strengholt, MGM’s representative in Germany, went even further: at the request of the Propaganda Ministry, he divorced his Jewish wife, and she ended up in a concentration camp.) Hitler was obsessed with movies, and he understood their power to shape public opinion.
He told the receptionist at Warner Brothers that he wanted to speak to the producer.
The producer picked up the telephone: “He wanted to make a date with me immediately, and wanted further information in regard to this, I presume, in order that he might notify Washington or his government,” the producer explained later in a memo.
Judging by the expressions on the faces of her co-stars, the dramatic fall seemed to be part of the scene the group were filming.