Introduction: The hollywood question

Hava Samuelson, Daniel Bernardi, Murray Pomerance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This book sets out to mark a new and challenging path to the understanding of the role of Jews and their experience in Hollywood filmmaking. Since the beginnings of the Hollywood film industry at the turn of the last century, Jews have contributed-as executives, producers, directors, writers, and performers-to the building and development of the studio system, the star system, and the arts and sciences of the Hollywood style. Thus, in a central and influential way, they have been concerned with the construction of the American Dream, or at least the Hollywood version of that dream. The promise, opportunity, and material success that shaped the cultural and collective identity of this nation of immigrants have been inspired, and to some degree structured, by a Jewish minority that embraced the majority culture more than at any other time in their long diasporic life. Our multidisciplinary approach looks with new light at the Jewish experience on film. If our joint examination stands upon two fundamental questions-what is the historic presence of Jews in America? What involvement has the Jewish presence brought to Hollywood specifically and American popular culture broadly?-the studies herein do not pause to elaborate on them directly, so we raise them here. What follows in these pages is aimed at any interested reader, scholarly or not, who is a lover of Hollywood film and interested to know more about it; and any reader, Jewish or not, who cares about the nature and complexities of Jewish experience, especially as it relates to cinema. American movies may not exactly constitute a picture of our culture, but they surely make a picture for us, one that we gaze at with seriousness and also a certain loss and regaining of self. And Jewish experience is one of the repeating, pervad- ing motifs in that picture, a motif, we believe, worth considerably more attention than it has received.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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