The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced Vienna in Hollywood, a new six-week program launching on Dec. 10 that explores the history of the predominantly Jewish, Austrian-born community of filmmakers and professionals who helped shape the classical era of Hollywood.
Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe including actor-director Erich von Stroheim and composer Max Steiner were major players in the early establishment of the American film industry in the 1920s. Due to Nazi persecution, a larger wave came in the ‘30s and ‘40s, bringing in talent such as the directors Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang; actors Hedy Lamarr and Peter Lorre; producers Eric Pleskow and Sam Spiegel; screenwriters Vicki Baum and Gina Kaus; and composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Ernest Gold. With a symposium and film series, Vienna in Hollywood will pay tribute to these artists and many more.
The two-day symposium is titled Vienna in Hollywood: The Influence and Impact of Austrians on the Hollywood Film Industry, 1920s-2020s. Panels will take place at USC and at the Academy Museum on Dec. 10 and 11, respectively, featuring international scholars, filmmakers, artists and programmers. Panels include Composers and Their Legacies; Women Writers and Exile Networks; Vienna Film Exiles Below the Line; Directors; Wien Kultur; and Vienna and Hollywood Today.
The film series, titled Vienna in Hollywood: Émigrés and Exiles in the Studio System, launches on Dec. 11 at the Academy Museum. Running until Jan. 31, 2022, the lineup features the work of Austrian-born Jewish filmmakers including Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca,” Max Reinhardt’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Josef von Stenberg’s “Dishonored” and Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” and “A Foreign Affair.”
Vienna in Hollywood is presented in collaboration with the USC Libraries and the USC Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies with support from the Austrian Consulate General in Los Angeles.
“During the classical Hollywood era, so many beloved films and so many components of the movie industry were developed and shaped by Austrian émigrés, including Erich von Stroheim, Max Steiner, Vicki Baum, Fritz Lang and many others,” said Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum. “The Academy Museum is deeply committed to scholarly and dynamic explorations of film history. We are thrilled to be presenting the work and vision of these groundbreaking film artists and professionals who are a core part of our cinematic history.”
“Many are familiar with the fascinating story that Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe were the founding fathers of Hollywood in the early 20th century,” said Doris Berger, senior director of curatorial affairs at the Academy Museum. “It is a privilege to collaborate with colleagues from USC and the Austrian Consulate to spotlight the lesser-known film and cultural history of the significant contributions of Austrian émigrés to the look and sound of classic era Hollywood.”
“The Max Kade Institute is thrilled to partner with the museum and USC Libraries for this wonderful series of events on the unique Austrian contributions to Hollywood cinema and Austrian and American cross-cultural cinematic currents,” said Paul Lerner, professor of history at USC and director of the Max Kade Center. “Vienna in Hollywood perfectly embodies the Institute’s founding mission of documenting the lives and work of German-speaking émigrés and exiles in Southern California, those predominantly Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Central Europe who shaped the landscapes and cultures of Los Angeles in the 1940s and beyond.”