From Exile to Excellence
Having just wrapped this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood yesterday, the indispensible Turner Classic Movies focuses its primetime programming today through Wednesday to films involving a powerful handful of the more than 800 Jewish émigrés who would flee Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1939 to make new careers – and profound impressions – on the Hollywood film industry. The starting point for the three-night tribute is the 2009 documentary Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, which chronicles via clips, interviews, home movies, photos and rare archival footage their story of relocation, assimilation and the influential artistry that resulted across a number of genres. Many of the luminaries profiled in the documentary and saluted in the selected films to air are key players in our diverse Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray library. They and their TT titles include: Marlene Dietrich (Judgment at Nuremberg), Henry Koster (Désirée, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation), Fritz Lang (Man Hunt, The Big Heat), Rudolph Maté (Cover Girl), Franz Waxman (Beloved Infidel, Demetrius and the Gladiators) and Fred Zinnemann (Julia, A Man for All Seasons and next month’s A Member of the Wedding). Other great talents covered include Billy Wilder (two of whose films are in the TT queue for future release), Erich Pommer, Peter Lorre, Hedy Lamarr, Conrad Veidt, Frederick Hollander, Hans J. Salter, Felix Bressart and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall. Among the interviewees offering eyewitness accounts of the period is actress Lupita Tovar Kohner (now a hearty 105), the widow of émigré producer Paul Kohner, and the mother of actress Susan Kohner and producer Pancho Kohner (10 to Midnight, plus another Charles Bronson thriller on the TT release slate later this year). Their tumultuous transition to American shores resulted in a cultural boon to our cinematic heritage that we can revisit and relish on TT Blu-ray.