An American Tragedy

Thomas Doherty examines a series of conflicts between left-wing artists and movie moguls at the time of Sergei Eisenstein's brief sojourn in Tinseltown in the 1930s.

In 1930, initiating one of the stranger episodes in the history of Soviet-American relations, the president of Paramount Pictures, Jesse L. Lasky, lured the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) to Hollywood with a $100,000 contract. That single act of capitalist speculation sparked a series of public fracas over the direction of American cinema, and ensnared some of the most prominent novelists and filmmakers of the 1930s, and a half-dozen Hollywood executives. The wrestling match between the artists and the moguls was a preliminary bout in what has since become common: the use of the motion picture medium as an arena for all kinds of ideological skirmishes  in American culture.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.