Targeting Alien Filmmakers in 1930s Hollywood

  • J. Emmett Winn


TARGETING ALIEN FILMMAKERS IN 1930s HOLLYWOOD On January 28, 1933, the US government made its first strike in a much heralded drive to rid Hollywood of alien filmmakers. A special assistant to Secretary of Labour William Doak forecast "a wholesale exodus of foreign film talent" would begin.(1) The news made front-page headlines across the country as government agents interrogated Australian-born screenwriter John Farrow and other Hollywood filmmakers.(2) Labour Department special agents and local police arrested Farrow as he danced with South American actress Mona Maris at a fashionable Los Angeles hotel.(3) His crime, according to the immigration special agents, was that he overstayed his legal visitor permit. This study investigates the government's campaign against alien filmmakers in the early 1930s and finds that government promises to deport hordes of foreign workers were never serious, but were instead a project intended for publicity, both to show Americans...