Last month, CMCI’s own Dr Harvey G Cohen premiered material from his upcoming book “Footlight Parade and Hollywood’s New Deal,” at the Historians of the Twentieth-Century annual conference in Middleberg, in the Netherlands. Reception was very positive, and based on the presentation, Cohen received an invitation to present material from the book at a conference on “Hollywood and the Great Depression,” sponsored by the British Library in 2013.
Cohen’s next book, now nearing completion, focuses on the 1933 Warner Bros. musical Footlight Parade, demonstrating why it is both a supremely entertaining and historically important film that reflects the Great Depression in Hollywood and around the United States in intriguing and surprising ways. It shows how the Warner brothers, though extremely public supporters and personal friends of President Franklin Roosevelt in their activism and their films, actually set about undermining the President’s New Deal policies during 1933, trying to ensure that the pain of the Great Depression fell upon artists and technicians in the film industry, not moguls and executives like themselves. Through the application of much original research and analysis, Cohen’s book argues that the film as well as various motion-picture industry controversies from the year 1933 acted as previously ignored catalysts for the eventual end of the classic Hollywood studio system in the years following World War II.