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2. German-American Film Relations

Competition and Cooperation

International trade in motion pictures has flourished from the first decade of the century when cinemas settled in urban areas. Since movies were cheap to transport and, while silent, convenient to retitle in other languages, they made obvious export material. France led a field of producing and exporting nations which included Denmark, Italy, Sweden and the United States. French producers therefore initially enjoyed primacy in determining the boundaries of movie entertainment. Major companies, most notably Pathé and Gaumont, also invested in branch operations abroad. The combination of voluminous film exchange and movement of capital and expertise created a truly international cinema culture.[1]

By 1918 French dominance had given way to an unprecedented degree of international market control by American film. The United States produced several times the number of feature films annually as its nearest competitor, Germany, and had almost as many cinema seats as all other countries combined. The ongoing expansion of motion picture enterprise raised the stakes in international competition. By the 1920s motion pictures represented enormous investments in studios, equipment and theaters. In Germany alone they directly employed tens of thousands of persons, from stars to theater attendants and projectionists. Industrial concentration and rising production standards became prerequisites for a role on the international market.

Early in the 1920s Germany momentarily seemed poised to shatter the American monopoly. While the Republic lived in the shadow of inflation until late 1923, Weimar cinema enjoyed primacy at home and growing recognition abroad. German films created an invasion scare in the United States and won respect elsewhere. However, between 1924 and 1929, as Germany enjoyed a period of relative economic and political stability, supported by foreign loans and confirmed by reintegration into the international community, a credit squeeze and large-scale American inroads clearly relegated Germany to a supporting role. American tariffs and resistance to German imports, as well as the departure of leading filmmakers to the United States, threatened to reduce German cinema to an appendage of Hollywood. Only with the introduction of talking pictures at the close of the decade did American influence in Germany recede somewhat, though American international hegemony remained unshakeable.

Thanks to the studies of Siegfried Kracauer and Lotte Eisner the inflationary period is usually seen as Weimar cinema’s commercial and artistic golden age. In the cinema, as in other sectors of the German economy, inflation, though ultimately catastrophic in proportions and impact, massively aided the cause of postwar recovery. By sheltering the domestic market from foreign interference and encouraging industrial concentration, it fostered experimentation and growth. UFA’s absorption in 1921 of Decla-Bioscop, a company which under the direction of Erich Pommer championed national cinema art, marked the confluence of industrial and creative trends which characterized this period. From the flowering of Expressionism in Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, through the chamber dramas of Lupu Pick and F. W. Murnau, the early thrillers of Fritz Lang, the comic and epic classics scripted by Hans Kraely and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, to the historical and mythical works of Richard Oswald and Paul Wegener, Weimar cinema expanded rapidly and won international prominence. Inflation underwrote a remarkable boom.[2]

By contrast, from the mid-1920s, when relative economic stabilization was achieved, German cinema passed through commercial and creative crises which checked expansion and eroded national identity. Retrenchment and stagnation coincided closely with the rise of American influence. Whereas before 1924 the ailing mark discouraged export to Germany, keeping Hollywood in the background, thereafter American cinema consolidated a place in Germany and threatened to extinguish the independence of the German cinema. Hollywood bit deeply into the domestic market, fairly or otherwise limited German markets abroad and deprived the native industry of its best personnel. Its inroads compelled adoption of American methods, including acceptance by German companies of American funding and direction in the second half of the decade. UFA’s alliance with Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn at the end of 1925, better known as Parufamet, was the most prominent of these arrangements. It has been read ever since as a byword for Americanization of the Weimar cinema.[3]

Kracauer and Eisner, both former critics concerned with the peculiarities of Weimar cinema, drew heavily on sentiments prevalent in the second half of the 1920s to distinguish golden age from decline. From 1925 contemporaries began to reflect nostalgically on the dynamism and international success of native accomplishments in the previous five years. Hollywood became the principal villain in accounts of domestic film woes. However, stigmatization of Hollywood to explain German setbacks did not originate with middecade stagnation. It was rooted in earlier perceptions of the American challenge. At the end of the war film experts approached the problem of America’s global dominance with sharp antinomies. The dichotomies of “we” and “they” prevalent in wartime elevation of German Kultur carried over into postwar film debates. In place of military fronts came filmic ones. Experts foresaw a full-scale confrontation between Hollywood and Berlin to decide ownership of the international market. The persistence of wartime rhetoric meant that the postinflationary American invasion signified the defeat of Germany. That in turn shed a sinister light on the otherwise natural and widely approved internationalization of film which ensued.

The magnitude of the American challenge to Weimar cinema is apparent in censorship data quantifying the proportions of domestic and American movies passed for German theaters. Censorship figures do not, of course, tell an unequivocal tale. They say nothing about the character of the films, the extent of their distribution, or the popular responses which they evoked. Nor do they identify those imports made by outstanding German or other European filmmakers and performers who accepted employment in the United States, on the one hand, or domestic films made by American affiliates, on the other. Nor do they offer a guide to the Americanization of German production. They do, however, reveal the fundamental restructuring of the German film market which took place in the first half of the 1920s.[4] In 1920 the German market belonged essentially to native producers. Between 1921 and 1924 Hollywood’s inroads revolutionized the composition of German exhibition.[5]

Market Shares: German and American Films, 1921–1929
  Feature Films Shorts Totals
  German American German American German American
Breakdowns of shorts and feature films are not available for 1921 and 1922.
1921 646 136
1922 474 202
1923 253 102 94 149 347 251
1924 220 186 51 155 271 341
1925 212 216 16 391 228 607
1926 185 216 4 337 189 553
1927 243 190 3 394 246 584
1928 224 199 8 422 232 621
1929 183 142 5 316 188 458

Two patterns deserve highlighting. Most visible is the decimation of domestic entertainment shorts, which, unlike feature production, did not receive quota protection. Native producers did retain a stranglehold on the so-called Kulturfilm—industrial, educational and advertising motion pictures—but from 1925 German output of entertainment shorts effectively ended. American slapstick, the bulk of the imports in this category, enjoyed an uncontested place in German cinema programs. Less immediately apparent, but more crucial, was the quantum leap in Hollywood’s contribution of feature films and the simultaneous slump in German output with the end of inflation in 1924. Rough parity was established between the number of American and domestic features on the market, a balance which persisted until the end of the decade.

The broader significance of these figures for Weimar cinema culture is the central theme of the chapters which follow. If it is to be meaningfully assessed, one must emphasize from the beginning that neither film industry was a national institution. Private interests in each country competed against each other as much as against foreign companies. Their commercial and artistic representatives traveled between Hollywood and Berlin, learning from and fe;afting each other, negotiating mutually advantageous trade deals, and making congratulatory speeches about the benefits of international cooperation.[6] German importers, distributors and exhibitors were eager to handle the American product. American companies which established affiliates in Berlin to distribute their pictures and to produce there had no difficulty finding German performers and directors. German and American companies fought each other for control of national and international markets; they also worked together to best their domestic competitors. No tidy formula distinguishes cooperation from competition. Since, however, the language employed borrowed heavily from high diplomacy, assuming nationally uniform differences of interest and purpose, it is necessary to sketch the main contours of German-American film exchange, indicating the nuances and contradictions it involved.

The first and fundamental fact in the relationship between Hollywood and Berlin was the former’s overwhelming primacy. The American film industry so successfully exploited other markets, drawing on official support and the assistance of foreign agents, that its international hegemony was quickly taken for granted.[7] Set against the American achievement, Germany’s international ambitions appear unrealistic or farcical. Nonetheless, visions of challenging or duplicating the American achievement touched virtually every aspect of German-American film interaction. They conditioned the extent and nature of German import restrictions, since preservation of domestic production had to be balanced against possibilities for export. They prompted German firms to establish liaisons with American companies, in the interests of access to the latters’ exhibition outlets. They also provided incentive to Americanize German film production.

At the beginning of the Weimar period the presupposition of opposing national interests in motion pictures was relatively easily sustained. During the war America became a leader in manufacture of anti-German propaganda. Its declaration of war on Germany in April 1917 coincided with Hollywood’s advance to front-runner on the world market. Not surprisingly, patriotic sentiments heavily colored discussions of American motion picture achievements in German trade circles. Despite its wartime isolation, Germany received reports of American takeover of markets in such diverse places as France, Russia, Sweden and South America. From the time of America’s entry into the war German trade circles began to ponder the challenges of peace.[8] One commentator’s prediction that following the war the leading film-producing nations would battle for a “place in the sun” captured general sentiments. Language favored by Pan Germans and made common coin during the war reflected the prevailing belief that while the nation was at war the motion picture business enjoyed relative international peace; when the war ended the conflict would begin.[9] In this respect the founding of UFA in late 1917 represented the outstanding case of an industry preparing itself for postwar competition. As UFA’s production program clearly demonstrated, long-term ambitions on the international market figured more prominently than the short-term demand for propaganda to counter the Entente.[10]

Nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, from the cessation of hostilities German companies prepared to collaborate with Hollywood in the import trade. January 1919 saw the appearance in leading trade publications of the first advertisements for American movies by would-be importers. Just weeks later isolated American films showed in German theaters, despite the maintenance of the wartime import ban. Since the industry believed that the ban would be lifted with the conclusion of a formal peace, its greater and lesser distributors engaged in a long campaign to best each other in the potentially lucrative import trade.[11] Characteristic once again is that superpatriotic UFA led the chase for American contracts. No sooner was the company founded than it began to exploit its Danish connection (Nordisk), while presuming upon its privileged position with government, to gain import allowances. Following the armistice it opened negotiations with American agents in Copenhagen which led to signature in mid-1919 of an agreement to import more than 900 American features and shorts for the equivalent of twenty million marks.[12] When news of the transaction leaked to the German press there was a loud protest that UFA, a semiofficial company, enjoyed an unfair advantage. At stake was less the prospect of American motion pictures returning to German theaters than the fear that UFA would monopolize the import trade, for other companies were quick to join the race for import agreements.[13] Defensive responses to Hollywood’s wartime expansion did not, therefore, preclude internecine struggles over its German spoils. Indeed, this particular case illustrates a pattern which can be observed through much of the subsequent decade. German companies wanted to profit from Hollywood’s reputation at the expense of their competitors, but dressed their policy in patriotic phrases. Hollywood, while appearing to present an external threat, almost immediately became enmeshed in domestic rivalries.

Early conflict of interest over American motion pictures inevitably surfaced in the debate over the timing and extent of film import controls. The rationale for the import ban of 1916, denial of currency reserves to nonessential imports, remained powerful in the troubled circumstances of the immediate postwar period when Germany continued to suffer from shortages of basic foodstuffs and raw materials. Given the pressure on reserves of foreign currency, the Reichsbank foresaw at least a two-year ban on motion picture import. Nonetheless, from early 1919 the government initiated a process of consultation with trade representatives on eventual policy. The industry proved badly divided. Broadly speaking, theater owners and distributors were pitted against producers and employees, the former welcoming foreign film as a novelty bound to heighten public interest and as a means to mitigate price increases, the latter opposing more than a token import quota so as not to jeopardize domestic primacy and jobs. Each side lobbied actively in support of its position. Companies with foreign contracts in hand urged speedy restoration of film import and sought exceptional treatment in the interim.[14]

Although American motion pictures were not the only ones affected by the extended import ban, they were clearly the principal concern. Since the scramble to gain contracts for American pictures presupposed early resumption of film exchange, extension of the ban had enormous ramifications for the interested parties. This was especially true of UFA, which in its contract of 1919 agreed to pay dollar equivalents for American pictures from the period 1915–1918. The progressive deterioration of the German mark meant UFA paid installments in increasingly dear hard currency while the pictures depreciated with age. This proved a staggering financial blow to the company. Appeals to Reich authorities for special import permission met blunt refusal. Only with suspension of the agreement in 1920 did the company escape financial suicide.[15]

A full year after the first round of trade negotiations with representatives of the Ministry of Economics the import question had still not been resolved. Only between August and December 1920 was an agreement reached. The import quota for 1921 was set at 180,000 meters of negative film, roughly equivalent to fifteen percent of domestic production in 1919, or 90–120 feature films. A Film Trade Board, comprised of industry representatives and answering to the Ministry of Economics, oversaw distribution of import certificates according to an agreed formula.[16] All parties realized, however, that the ceiling and distribution formula were first steps rather than definitive arrangements. With import restored and a framework for resolving disputes in place, the competition for influence in the import trade could finally begin in earnest. Consensus never emerged on optimal import levels, but subsequent years witnessed a dramatic liberalization of film trade. The ceiling was raised to 250,000 meters annually for 1922 and 1923 and to 260,000 meters for 1924, but in practice proved extremely flexible: actual import exceeded it by twenty percent or more. In 1925 a quota system was instituted which permitted the import of one feature film for each domestic feature distributed.[17]

While a number of factors, fiscal and cultural, determined the level of film import, and although every settlement of this question involved a compromise between conflicting interests, the debate revolved essentially around American pictures. From the start American motion pictures constituted the overwhelming proportion of imports. Thus the liberalization of import restrictions reveals acceptance of Hollywood as a constituent part of Weimar film culture. Despite acute awareness of America’s near eradication of French, British, Swedish and Italian production bases, the German trade circles considered collaboration with American companies to be compatible with preservation of a domestic industry. Even later criticism of the import system for encouraging American companies to finance cheap German “quota” pictures to earn import permits testifies to the normalcy of corporate liaisons between Hollywood and Berlin.[18]

Before 1924 the character of relations between Hollywood and Berlin was conditioned largely by the inflation. German interest in American motion pictures rested on relatively meager purchasing power. Yet because import licenses were granted to domestic companies with previous track records, and because American firms initially did not have branch offices in Germany, the first American motion pictures distributed in Germany were handled by German companies. Apart from William Fox, a relative latecomer who in 1923 founded his own German subsidiary, the major American companies chose to market their product through short-term agreements with German distributors. Universal pictures, for instance, were distributed by Oskar Einstein; Metro, Triangle and Mutual releases by UFA (Damra); First National films by Transocean; and Paramount pictures by Phoebus Film.[19] A contract from August 1921 between Decla-Verleih and Goldwyn illustrates the general pattern. Decla purchased distribution rights to eight Goldwyn pictures at a cost of 150,000 marks each plus fifty percent of the net box office exceeding that figure. License to these films for a period of four years was complemented by the exclusive right to represent Goldwyn in Germany until April 1922. In addition Decla had an option for renewing the contract for 1922–1923 if both parties could agree on the number of pictures to be distributed. Each side clearly desired to benefit from the partnership but was reluctant to make far-reaching arrangements until the market response to American film could be ascertained. Moreover, the erratic and ailing fortunes of the German currency made long-term deals unattractive.[20]

The one exception to the pattern of limited partnerships to distribute American movies in Germany came in response to production opportunities afforded by the German inflation. In late 1920 Madame Dubarry, the UFA spectacle directed by Ernst Lubitsch, created a motion picture sensation in the United States as Passion. In its wake Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari and Lubitsch’s subsequent historical epic, Anna Boleyn (Deception), confirmed Germany’s talent and technical know-how.[21] American film moguls—Arthur Ziehm of Goldwyn and Carl Laemmle, president of Universal—had already visited Berlin to explore ways to exploit the German market and the cheapness in dollars of German production. At the end of 1920 Famous Players (Paramount) staked its German claim by signing contracts with Ernst Lubitsch, Pola Negri and Joe May for employment in both Germany and the United States.[22] It also negotiated with UFA for a comprehensive production and distribution agreement. Although these negotiations proved abortive, apparently because the Americans made agreement conditional on their right to acquire a controlling share of UFA stock, the grandiose ambitions they concealed were almost immediately realized by an independent initiative from Famous Players. In April 1921 it launched, via two German-American agents, Ben Blumenthal and Sam Rachmann, a German holding company, the European Film Alliance (EFA).[23]

EFA acquired the most modern studios in Germany and plundered much of the best UFA talent by offering irresistible dollar contracts to those it believed could make films to the standard set by Madame Dubarry. On paper it possessed the very best requisites available in Germany. It embraced production companies formed for Ernst Lubitsch, Pola Negri, Joe May and the outstanding theater director, Max Reinhardt, to name only its most famous contributors. Its technical staff was second to none, as was its directorate. Paul Davidson, Germany’s leading production chief, left his post at UFA to work with Lubitsch under the aegis of EFA, and he was joined by Carl Bratz, a member of the board at UFA. EFA could count on the extensive international distribution network maintained by Famous Players as an outlet rivaled by no native company. It seemed destined to become a model of international collaboration between Hollywood and Berlin.[24]

EFA’s import ambitions matched the boldness of its production program. Founded when the import quota and allocation for 1921 had already been determined, it quickly sought to translate its financial muscle into import certificates. In a lengthy petition to the Film Trade Board EFA appealed in August 1921 for permission to import 100,000 meters of film negative (that is, over half the total quota) from Famous Players. Its rationale blended the usual phrases about the cultural importance of film for overcoming national barriers with self-congratulations for opening the American market to German film and for funneling dollars into German production. In concrete terms it recommended reciprocity as the basis of film exchange—exporters of German films should receive a corresponding quota of imports—a proposal which, ironically, later became a stick with which German critics beat American firms for inundating the German market with their pictures but refusing to import German films.[25]

In the event, neither the production ambitions nor import hopes were realized. The request for a special quota for Famous Players films met flat refusal from the Film Trade Board. EFA was not eligible under the existing system to acquire import permits; Famous Players would have to work with an established distributor.[26] Deflation of production dreams took place over a longer period but was no less final. After major investments in studios, equipment and personnel—by its own boast over thirty million marks by mid-1921—EFA produced only a handful of motion pictures, notably two works by Lubitsch, Die Flamme and Das Weib des Pharao, which failed to justify high commercial expectations.[27] To what extent Famous Players planned to help offset these investments through German earnings on previously amortized American pictures is unclear; denial of import permission presumably presented financial complications. Nonetheless, production extravagance, low-quantity output, disappointing box office and above all dissension between American and German management of the company quickly soured the dream. Officially founded in April 1921, EFA ceased production late the following year. Pola Negri, Ernst Lubitsch and Dimitri Buchowetzki accepted contracts to work in America, the first of a stream of German film people who relocated to Hollywood. The other EFA employees had their contracts canceled effective 31 December or received substantial compensation and pursued their own paths within the German film industry.[28]

This early case of collaboration between Hollywood and Berlin provoked extremely ambivalent reactions from German trade circles. EFA offered badly needed international acceptance and prestige for an industry still suffering from international suspicions inflamed by the war. The willingness of Hollywood’s largest company to enlist the services of German artists and producers placed a seal of approval on German accomplishments, a seal very high on the list of postwar priorities. Moreover, EFA provided an international distribution network with which to spread the works and reputation of the German cinema abroad. Lubitsch and Davidson put it succinctly: “If German film can only make inroads over there and if it is at all enjoyed, the entire German industry will derive benefit from it as it is attracted more strongly to export to America.”[29] Both were pleading in their own defence when they argued that international cooperation would open the American market to German film, but they were also playing skillfully upon general aspirations.

Yet the prospect of American moguls buying up German talent and with it the future of German cinema caused concern. There had already been deep reservations about American financing and control in the company. From its birth EFA raised the specter of Americanization through the co-option of German resources and personnel.[30] Consequently, its demise occasioned little regret. Its brief and troubled history was taken as demonstration that American financial largesse did not automatically generate film successes. American misunderstanding and mismanagement of German talent appeared the root cause of the company’s debacle. Dollars had been dispensed so liberally that German creativity had been impaired. Amusement and self-satisfaction greeted the failure, despite dollar investments and favorable circumstances, to realize the American dream in Berlin. According to Fritz Olimsky, EFA taught the Americans for the first time that dollars alone could not bridge the gulf between national tastes and cinematic styles.[31]

EFA’s collapse came at a critical moment for the German cinema. Quite apart from the loss of Pola Negri, Ernst Lubitsch and Dimitri Buchowetzki, the industry faced a mounting inflation which was eroding profitability on the domestic market. Whereas at the end of the war the domestic market alone covered 100 percent of production expenses, in the period 1921–1923 its contribution fell from forty to as low as ten percent.[32] Foreign earnings became critical to German producers. It had become virtually mandatory either to produce cheaply, trusting any income from abroad to yield a profit, or, as EFA hoped, to make lavish spectacles like Madame Dubarry which were costly but could captivate audiences abroad. As the world’s largest and wealthiest film market America occupied a critical place in any export calculation.[33]

While German endeavors to penetrate the American market represent a history of their own, they bear sufficiently on Hollywood’s role in Germany to merit brief discussion. It is a history which began with almost unbounded hopes but gave way to disappointment and some bitterness. The sensation created by the American release of Madame Dubarry late in 1920 augured very favorably for the future. Critical acclaim for other major releases of this period—Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam and Anna Boleyn—and EFA’s employment of German talent confirmed German excellence and gave substance to reports that Hollywood both feared the German cinema and felt compelled to learn from it.[34] German experts noted proudly that an American compilation of the ten best pictures at the box office in 1921 placed Madame Dubarry first, ahead of Way Down East and The Kid, while Caligari, Anna Boleyn, Golem and Carmen placed fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth respectively. They concluded that German pictures generally surpassed American in appeal as well as quality.[35]

After these auspicious beginnings came a series of rude shocks. Even while dependence on foreign earnings continued to grow, disconcerting news arrived from the United States. In the summer of 1922 Rudolf Berg, a German distributor just returned from a seven month American study tour, noted that the favorable first impression made by outstanding German film releases had been nullified by the showing of older, inferior productions. American sympathy for German movies had abruptly evaporated, leaving the German cinema back at the beginning, having to overcome American prejudices.[36] The following year Berg’s appraisal was corroborated by two other prominent executives who visited America, Hermann Rosenfeld, head of the National Film Company, and E. H. Correll, director of Phoebus Film. Rosenfeld still employed the language of “conquering the American market,” but his analysis of present circumstances offered scarce hope for conquest. Correll confirmed the bitter truth that Americans showed virtually no interest in German motion pictures and asserted that Germans had received greatly exaggerated reports of the popular acclaim and box-office take for the first German movies to succeed in the United States, Madame Dubarry and Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari.[37]

These disappointments coincided with increasing recognition that inflation was a double-edged sword. While it gave German films a tremendous edge on foreign markets it not only reduced the national market to negligible proportions but also played havoc with production costs and fostered cheap production for dumping abroad.[38] The far-sighted recognized that producers could not proceed on the premise of a limitless export market. Sooner or later monetary madness would end. Native producers would then have to face competition at home and abroad on an equal footing. In the meantime, dumping threatened to discredit Germany’s cinematic reputation and jeopardize long-term foreign sales, making future adjustments even more problematic.[39]

Despite these dark clouds on the horizon, the appeal of the American market was so powerful that German producers worked with at least one eye on possibilities in the United States. Even when monetary stabilization restored the earning capacity of domestic exhibition, pressure to gear production to an imagined American audience remained strong. Behind this pressure lay not only the size of America’s exhibition circuit but Hollywood’s invasion of the German market in late 1923 and 1924. At the same moment that German export ambitions to the United States met frustration, American motion pictures became qualitative and quantitative fixtures in Germany. Qualitatively, the release of the first films starring Jackie Coogan (chief among them Chaplin’s The Kid), and a number of recent sensationalist and social dramas by Cecil B. De Mille and Maurice Tourneur, generated widespread respect for American filmmaking. Quantitatively, a fresh influx of American movies helped offset a catastrophic decline in domestic production in 1922 and 1923. Since inflation made domestic production costs increasingly unpredictable, German concerns turned increasingly to distribution as the safest branch of film enterprise. Stabilization of the currency in 1924 created a painful adjustment to responsible fiscal behavior which perpetuated the shrinkage in domestic output.[40]

Even before introduction of a new currency experts began to admit that the tables had been turned. In the second half of 1923 they conceded that the battle for position had narrowed to a struggle against Hollywood in Germany. In August Willy Haas looked back on a year of German production and judged it qualitatively incapable of competing abroad. Its export continued only because it underbid all competitors. In October Wolfgang Martini, a leading trade journalist in Munich, conceded that in the public mind American film had already achieved victory in Germany.[41] Under these circumstances, the ambition to sell motion pictures in the United States joined hands with the perception that Hollywood’s motion picture formula also worked in Germany to encourage filmmakers to aim their work at an imagined American audience. From UFA’s early pledge to challenge the world’s leading producers, through the reign of Erich Pommer and the big budget spectacles and art films, to the early sound era when UFA spared no expense to create English versions of its leading pictures, American cinemas exerted irresistible pull. UFA’s policy of finding world-renowned, especially American stars, to make its films internationally attractive, was just one symptom of the general ambition.[42] Although UFA was the only firm to establish its own American affiliate, and most systematically committed to creation of motion pictures which that affiliate could distribute in the United States, export hopes continued to shape general responses to Hollywood. These hopes became inextricably linked to distribution contracts for release of American pictures in Germany.

As indicated by the table earlier in this chapter, 1924 witnessed the breakthrough of the American feature film to rough parity with German features on the domestic market. This breakthrough is the principal measure of the fact that in the cinema, as in the economy generally, late 1923 and early 1924 marked a watershed. While the economy came to depend on massive infusions of American capital via the Dawes Plan, German theaters became dependent on American imports for a significant portion of their programs.[43] In addition to exporting its films, Hollywood exported its capital and corporate influence. Although loans to German film companies were modest by the scale of investment in the automobile or shipping industry, they played a pivotal and controversial role. Moreover, at middecade a number of the American majors founded production as well as distribution affiliates in Berlin. None approached the grandiose scale of EFA, but in conjunction with American investments in German firms these ventures revived the specter of Americanization.

From the end of the inflationary period contractual ties between Hollywood and Berlin for distribution of American films in Germany proliferated. For instance, in September 1923 National Film established a partnership with Famous Players which made it the latter’s German representative. In July 1924 Trianon negotiated a cooperative arrangement for production and distribution with Selznick Co. Phoebus acquired, with some fanfare, rights to Metro-Goldwyn films, before entering a long-term relationship with United Artists. The subsequent year Bruckmann entered into a distribution compact with Universal and UFA acquired short-term rights to Warner Bros., First National, Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn films.[44] Simultaneously, American corporations founded their own German affiliates or acquired controlling shares in existing firms. First National, after distributing through UFA, created German First National (Defina) in 1927. Universal took over Matador Film, in 1928 changing its name to German Universal. Warner Bros. made Bruckmann its German branch office.

Where the Americans established their own distribution companies they were legally obliged, by quota regulations, to distribute as many German features as imports. Generally this entailed producing as well as distributing in Germany. William Fox, who had created a German office in 1923, launched a production program in 1926 (Deutsche Fox) under the supervision of the eminent cameraman, Karl Freund. Fox also acquired a premiere theater in Berlin to showcase his product. Carl Laemmle’s Deutsche Universal also chose to manufacture its quota of German pictures to earn import permits. First National likewise incorporated a production subsidiary (German Film Union—Defu), acquiring for a time the services of Friedrich Zelnik, arguably Germany’s most successful director at the box office.[45]

Since in retrospect the various forms of Hollywood’s commercial penetration have been linked to the loss of artistic and cultural independence, thus the waning of a distinctive Weimar cinema, it cannot be too strongly stressed that German-American collaboration was a commonplace and generally accepted feature of Weimar film culture in the second half of the 1920s. It must also be emphasized that this collaboration served both parties. Although the fine print of collaborative contracts was rarely divulged, the general thrust of them was clear. Direct affiliation with leading German companies offered American firms import certificates, distribution networks and theater chains for exploitation of their product. Subsidiaries obliged them to distribute the products of domestic filmmakers or to produce in Germany in order to earn import permits. Since they employed German performers, directors, producers and administrative personnel, their presence was not merely self-serving. German partners received a selection of Hollywood’s motion pictures, financial support to produce pictures for import permits, and in some instances, a measure of reciprocal access to the American market. Although the exchange was anything but equal, it cannot be described as altogether one-sided. Whether Hollywood bypassed or associated with existing German companies, its penetration served German as well as American interests.[46]

This much being said, it is nonetheless true that Hollywood’s infiltration of the German film industry did not meet universal approval. The speed and volume of its middecade onslaught seriously threatened extinction of independent German cinema. Defensive reactions surfaced on a number of levels. Coincident with the proliferation of German-American alliances there emerged a sharp indictment of Hollywood’s product and complaints about the declining market value of American film for German theaters, a theme explored in detail in chapter four. With that indictment went a campaign to halve the import quota, a maneuver frustrated by the fact that sufficient domestic firms had contractual ties with American companies to have a vested interest in preservation of an open door. But the chief target of anti-American sentiment was not, significantly, the series of newly established American production companies in Berlin staffed by German personnel. Rather it was the outstanding collaborative venture of middecade, the partnership of UFA, Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn known as Parufamet, which became the cynosure of critical reaction against Hollywood’s role in Germany. As Germany’s leading motion picture conglomerate, initially supported by public funds, UFA encountered criticism for policies which could be tolerated from lesser firms. Since documentation pertaining to the agreement has been preserved, it is possible to examine this particular liaison between Hollywood and Berlin against the backdrop of the public responses it provoked.

UFA’s commitment to Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn was the product both of long-term interaction with Hollywood and of short-term pressures. The negotiations which led to the agreement actually began with Universal, which was then preempted by aggressive action by Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn.[47] But the roots of the deal can be traced back to the beginning of the decade, when the formation of EFA followed upon UFA’s refusal to accept American terms for direct collaboration. Hollywood’s interest in UFA’s distribution and theater network did not evaporate. The opportunity to access it appeared once again with the financial difficulties which German cinema experienced in the aftermath of the inflation. The conjunction of tight credit, pressure from American competition in Germany and the failure of German films to obtain a foothold in the United States created growing deficits for native producers. The consequences were especially fateful for UFA, whose size gave substance to the ambition to rival Hollywood.

More than any other producer, UFA staked its reputation, and ultimately its existence, on gaining entry to the American market. In the first half of the decade it embarked on a bold program to challenge Hollywood. Although its own production output was a fraction of that of the largest American companies, it distributed a disproportionate share of German motion pictures. In 1924 it opened a branch office in New York to supervise distribution rights in America and launched an impressive drive to expand its theater holdings in Germany.[48] Furthermore, under Erich Pommer it produced a number of art and/or big budget spectacles—Die Nibelungen, Der letzte Mann, Tartüff, Faust and Metropolis—which were intended as Germany’s answer to Hollywood. When these pictures failed to justify the expense with substantial American earnings, UFA encountered severe financial difficulties. Already at the beginning of 1925 it borrowed fifteen million marks to remain solvent. At the end of the year the Deutsche Bank, the principal investor in the company, recalled its loan and UFA accepted slightly more than this sum again from Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn.[49]

As the visible consequence of financial mismanagement and foiled ambitions the accord quite understandably came in for unfriendly commentary. But the criticism did not stop there, for the agreement had potentially far-reaching consequences for UFA and with it German cinema as a whole. According to the studiously vague press release from UFA the loan of $4 million was accompanied by terms for 1) the establishment in Germany of a joint distribution agency (Parufamet) to handle the best productions of all three companies, 2) joint production in Germany, “under the direction of UFA,” and cooperative theater management, again with “full protection” of UFA’s interests, and 3) the export to the United States of a “substantial portion” of UFA’s film output.[50] UFA received fifty percent ownership of the new distribution company (the other half being split between Paramount and Metro) to which each of the three contracting parties agreed to contribute its twenty best feature pictures annually. Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn each contracted to release five UFA films annually in the United States.[51]

Contemporaries had good reason to question what specific terms lay behind the ambiguous official communiqué, especially since UFA’s financial woes, no secret at the time, received absolutely no mention.[52] As an exhibitor UFA had its hands tied. It had obligations to its two contracting partners to release forty feature films annually, plus by separate arrangement a commitment to Universal for another ten pictures each year. Together these meant reserving the majority of UFA theater bookings for American films. In the distribution sector UFA likewise surrendered many of its prerogatives. Its twenty best productions would be handled by a joint company, giving the American firms not only equal voice in distribution arrangements but also an equal share of the profits. Since in early 1926 American movies were dubious box-office value in Germany, the right of Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn to profit from UFA’s productions constituted a major concession.[53]

In light of these disparities, projected cooperation in theater management and production raised further questions. Although no joint companies were created comparable to the distributor Parufamet, UFA’s protestations that its sovereignty had not been infringed only sharpened suspicions to the contrary. In the fall of 1925 moviegoers had already received a foretaste of Americanized theater programs. UFA’s show theater, UFA-Palast am Zoo, had been renovated under the direction of Sam Rachmann and reopened with a tremendous fanfare, boasting a program of jazz and stage shows as well as motion pictures. Wholesale importation of methods not necessarily appropriate in Germany stirred as much or more resentment as inundation with American movies. Even more threatening was American influence in the production sector. Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn provided capital to help produce or otherwise finance the acquisition of the forty German movies which, according to the quota law, UFA had to distribute to obtain import licenses for an equal number of American films. In the face of growing concern that the quota system was encouraging German firms to produce cheaply and in quantity just to acquire import certificates, UFA’s agreement raised the possibility of forced Americanization.[54]

Although the accord naturally made no reference to the Americanization of UFA’s production, it contained unpublished clauses which confirmed the gloomier speculations of contemporaries about Hollywood’s influence. In the contract governing export of UFA films Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn received supervisory rights over UFA productions destined for America. Both firms could intervene at the preliminary production stage to insure that UFA films would be acceptable for American release.

The Licensor [UFA] will submit from time to time copy of story, continuity, cast and proposed director for such pictures as they believe suitable for the American market and will carry out such criticism, suggestions, alterations and changes made by the Licensee [Paramount or Metro-Goldwyn] with respect to such proposed picture[s].[55]

Intervention of this type provided an apparently guaranteed means to realize the long-standing ambition to make motion pictures suitable for American audiences. But this external jurisdiction assumed embarrassingly comprehensive form, extending to the right to “re-edit, cut and title” UFA productions, subject only to the condition that nothing be done to discredit UFA or Germany.[56] The clause authorizing American input at the production stage had no counterpart in the agreement governing American production for Germany. A counterpart to the stipulation regarding editing of finished films did appear, flatly denying UFA the liberty to rework American features.

Licensee [UFA] agrees to exhibit or cause said productions [of Paramount or Metro-Goldwyn] to be exhibited under such titles as shall be requested by Licensor, and in their original continuity of subject and in identically the same form as delivered to Licensee, and that no changes, interpolations, additions or eliminations shall be made therein without the written consent of Licensor first obtained, except insofar as may be necessary to conform to the requirements or laws of the said territory.[57]

Apart from revealing Hollywood’s boundless confidence in the superiority of its motion pictures, this paragraph hamstrung Parufamet at a moment when, as will be seen in chapter four, the call for careful editing of American films became a panacea for overcoming audience dissatisfaction with American imports.

Although contemporaries lacked details to substantiate their suspicions regarding Hollywood’s influence, the more acute among them identified the implications of UFA’s financial dependence—artistic restrictions and conformity to American expectations. The reactions of three prominent critics, whose views, to be heard frequently in this study, were anything but uniformly hostile toward American movies, indicate the tenor of opinion. Kurt Pinthus protested even before the UFA-Paramount/Metro-Goldwyn agreement at the prospect of a comparable arrangement with Universal. After seeing what had happened to the UFA-Palast under Sam Rachmann, Pinthus became convinced that distribution and production under American supervision would spell catastrophe for the German cinema as an independent artistic and public force.[58] Herbert Ihering shared the fear that American corporations would eliminate the German cinema as a distinct cultural and artistic entity. In a graphic metaphor he labeled the American cinema the new international breed of militarism, subjugating whole nations with insipid, sugary, standardized films and dictating American uniformity of tastes around the globe.[59] Roland Schacht adopted a less apocalyptic tone but was equally concerned with the dual threat of vanishing German independence and saturation with American movies. Although he professed disinterest in the origins of valuable motion pictures, he expressed dismay that front-ranking German artists would have to submit to American production methods. To cooperate with Hollywood apparently meant dictation of the ingredients which made up an acceptable German motion picture. Schacht also refused to accept as beneficent the import of numerous nondescript American movies to the exclusion of high quality European productions.[60]

Pinthus, Ihering and Schacht all rebelled at the prospect that German artists would be compelled to make American films and underwrite Americanized cinema culture. By itself this is hardly surprising, particularly coming from critics independent of the industry. It is striking, nonetheless, that trade perspectives on collaboration with Hollywood also underwent a shift. In the first half of the decade UFA’s ambitions to rival Hollywood met considerable praise, even insofar as they involved American partnerships.[61] As late as the summer of 1925 UFA was credited with a major coup when it secured agreements with First National, Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn and Paramount to corner the American import trade. One estimate put the pool from which it could draw at 150 feature films. Since quota restrictions prevented import of more than a portion of this total, UFA appeared to be able to promise a selection of the very best American pictures for German distribution.[62] Trade papers treated this arrangement as a welcome check on American ambitions to establish their own distribution firms in Germany and acquire their own theaters. The decision of Paramount in particular to work with UFA rather than independently, as elsewhere in Europe, testified gratifyingly to UFA’s commanding position. Without UFA the largest American concerns would have achieved absolute control.[63] Moreover, UFA’s function as a bulwark for the whole German industry was enhanced by the apparent freedom of German experts to determine the selection and timing of American releases. UFA could prevent imports from overshadowing or displacing its own products and could choose only the outstanding Hollywood pictures for German theaters. In addition, although no promise that the general demand for reciprocity in film trade between Germany and the United States was forthcoming, critics expressed hope that the cooperation implied by distribution arrangements for Germany would spill over into entry for German films into America.[64]

Less than six months later UFA’s deal with Metro-Goldwyn and Paramount met a very different response pattern. The existence of the loan clearly set off alarm signals. Also significant was the ten-year duration of the contract, the fact that American companies were granted a share in domestic profits from UFA’s pictures and the prospect of American influence in joint production. Less visible but no less real was the general perception of sharply declining interest among German moviegoers in American motion pictures. Ultimately, however, the suspicions raised by Parufamet reflected long-standing fears of American takeover of German cinema. From the nationalist and later National Socialist perspective Parufamet epitomized national betrayal, a sellout redeemed only by the intervention of Alfred Hugenberg and associates in 1927.[65] For other analysts Parufamet represented the end of the golden age of the German cinema, for with it began the great exodus of German talent to Hollywood, led by Erich Pommer, F. W. Murnau and Emil Jannings. For many contemporaries, even those resentful of the fact, UFA was the German cinema in the sense that as primus inter pares its fortunes determined those of the industry as a whole. Once it fell under American influence the fate of the remainder was only a matter of time. UFA therefore became a lightning rod for sentiments about Hollywood.[66]

If the general tenor of opinion on Parufamet was sceptical, the great hope in the arrangement was that German motion pictures would finally have access to American theaters. In 1925 German-American film exchange still occurred overwhelmingly in one direction, the hopes of 1920–1921 no closer to fulfillment. Some measure of the disappointment and bitterness this engendered can be gained from the reflections of Georg Herzberg, columnist and critic for Film-Kurier, on a rerun in August 1925 of the famous Lubitsch work, Madame Dubarry. Herzberg took this picture as the embodiment of German postwar expertise responsible for breaking the boycott against German films abroad. But its challenge to American hegemony was of short duration, partly for economic reasons, partly because the German industry had become complacent and far too friendly toward Hollywood and, not least, because of American duplicity:

The Americans were laughing up their sleeve. They were by no means of the opinion that the sale of film abroad must be based on reciprocity. We Germans had sold a few films to America and spoke of reciprocity; today American film controls half the German market; and America is making every conceivable effort to counter the import of German films.[67]

Although the Parufamet arrangement did not even approximate reciprocity, it contained fresh promise. Galling though it was that only one UFA film was to reach America for every four Metro-Goldwyn or Paramount pictures released in Germany, the fact that UFA movies gained entry to the American market at all was perceived as a major step forward. The ratio of four imports to one export left much to be desired, but it was a thousand times better than the ratio of 100:0, especially given that the United States had roughly six times the number of theaters as Germany. Even an open detractor of the whole transaction judged this its one ray of light, for the simple reason that to date no American firm of importance had committed itself to distribute an annual quota of German motion pictures.[68] Under these circumstances it is no surprise that UFA defended the pact before the public and its shareholders as a ticket to the American market. What UFA did not immediately reveal, but emerged when the Hugenberg group acquired the company, was that the American obligation to accept ten UFA features carried the proviso that these first be judged suitable for release in the United States. Despite securing the authorization to oversee UFA’s output, Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn reserved the right to reject the finished product. Although UFA’s records show that a fair portion of its films did see American release, and generated a substantial portion of its overall distribution revenue, the discrimination apparent in this escape clause caused further resentment toward the agreement.[69]

In one respect the debate about Parufamet proved much fuss about nothing, for contrary to initial projections it operated for scarcely two years. Shortly after Hugenberg acquired a ruling share in UFA in 1927 the distribution agreement underwent substantial revision and the American loan was paid off by sale of the real estate set as collateral against it. By 1928 differences in the distribution sector led UFA to withdraw its films from the joint company and Parufamet essentially distributed the movies only of the two American firms. Collaborative production resulted in only one feature film before being indefinitely scotched. Not long afterwards the appearance of talking pictures undermined Parufamet’s raison d’e;aftre and it was scrapped altogether.[70]

In another respect, however, the debate which ensued over the agreement exposes the fundamental dilemma of Germany’s ties with Hollywood in the era of relative stability. Central to it was the problem of selling Hollywood to German audiences, an issue which had polarized trade circles before signature of Parufamet and continued to plague it thereafter. As early as 1924 some film experts began to allege that overexposure to American motion pictures was diminishing their commercial value.[71] In response to these allegations, Reichsfilmblatt, the trade paper representing the interests of independent exhibitors (i.e., those outside the large theater chains like UFA), detected a plot among German producers to discredit Hollywood. The editor of the journal, Dr. Rudolf Beissel, claimed that domestic producers, threatened by their inability to make popular films, were trying to gain reduction of the import ceiling on the grounds that American pictures did not appeal to German moviegoers. Beissel believed a systematic campaign had been launched by sections of the German press to denigrate American movies and extend special consideration to domestic productions. In his opinion, moviegoers preferred Hollywood.[72]

The ulterior motive which Reichsfilmblatt attributed to producers had a thinly veiled counterpart among theater owners. In late 1924, when the paper commented on charges by the Emelka Company of corruption and pro-American bias among critics in Munich, it admitted that German cinemas had become so dependent on American imports that if the public were persuaded of their unattractiveness, a serious exhibition crisis could ensue.

The fairy tale of declining appeal of American films will be recited to the public until it believes it and begins more and more to avoid American film. And what will happen once the prejudice has taken root? In the long term we are absolutely dependent on American film in our programs.[73] (my emphasis)

Theater owners therefore had a stake in public appreciation of Hollywood to offset the catastrophic decline in domestic production and to encourage competition.

Hollywood’s instrumentalization in the dispute between the independent exhibitors and the large concerns provides one illustration of the way in which American motion pictures had been domesticated in Germany by 1924. What makes it particularly noteworthy in the present context is that in the course of 1925 attitudes vis-à-vis Hollywood underwent a fundamental reversal. From late 1924 Reichsfilmblatt began to report incidents of public dissatisfaction with American movies. By early 1925 it advocated an end to the mass import of American films. In July, Beissel, clearly anxious that the Americans could become seriously interested in German theater operations, argued that cheap American mass production was no longer profitable for German theaters. In September the journal decried the exorbitant prices demanded for American motion pictures which repelled German viewers. The combined fear that Hollywood could dictate rental prices for unpopular pictures and buy up financially ailing German theaters occasioned a dramatic shift of opinion.[74]

News of UFA’s pact with Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn hit a raw nerve. Criticism of American movies in Reichsfilmblatt now became venomous. In the early months of 1926 editorials espoused bitter anti-American sentiment: they wrote UFA off as an American company and charged the Americans with a systematic attempt to destroy German cultural independence. Between German and American sensibilities there existed no possibility of reconciliation. Felix Henseleit, lead critic for the paper, went so far as to blame the Americans for ruining theater business in Germany with mediocre motion pictures! Thus in the space of slightly more than a year Hollywood’s staunchest German ally was publishing chauvinistic tirades against America.[75]

In contrast to Reichsfilmblatt’s vocal anti-American campaign, the other leading trade papers—Der Film, Film-Kurier, Kinematograph and Lichtbildbühne—adopted a policy of appeasement. Rather than frontal attack on Hollywood they challenged the manner and form of American releases. In the spring of 1926 Der Film repeatedly suggested that the American features shown in Berlin’s foremost UFA theaters failed to match the quality of domestic films premiered in lesser theaters. UFA was shortsighted or bound to a self-defeating policy by commitments to American partners.[76] A parallel tack gained currency in Film-Kurier and Lichtbildbühne and to a somewhat lesser extent in Kinematograph. In addition to urging greater discrimination in the selection and theater placement of American imports these recommended careful revision and titling of American imports by editors conversant with German sensibilities. Skillful editing could eliminate elements offensive to German audiences.[77]

In sum, the exhibitors, erstwhile champions of American motion pictures, now railed against the weakness of all but a handful of them and against the exorbitant rental fees they commanded, declined participation in a banquet given in honor of the visiting American celebrities, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, and even slapped a boycott on Metro productions to protest the release abroad of the hate film Mare Nostrum.[78] Meanwhile, those concerned for the welfare of German production, formerly opposed to extensive import, now grasped for ways and means, such as more intelligent theater placement and publicity, or clever editing, to bolster sagging interest in American movies. While theater owners became increasingly anxious about public resistance to American film and about the imminent threat of American investments in German theater operations, producers encouraged peaceful ties with American capital. Parufamet thus completed an exchange of positions.[79]

In this general backlash against Hollywood all branches of the German cinema faced a dilemma. As formulated by Alfred Rosenthal, film expert for Scherl Publishers, its crux was domestic need of American production capital. Rosenthal argued that so long as native companies retained managerial independence and German artists enjoyed sufficient freedom to create motion pictures suited to German tastes, the sources of capital were irrelevant. He therefore welcomed the recent spate of alliances between American and German companies, of which Parufamet was chief. Quota films financed through these agreements could, he admitted, undermine the quality and reputation of the German cinema, but this danger had to be weighed against the more fundamental consideration that without American capital German production would be relegated to insignificance in any case.[80]

Inseparable from the need for funding was the compulsion to import American films. Again Rosenthal was among the outspoken advocates of realism.[81] Consequently, he found the anti-American offensive of the theater owners, especially their plans to boycott American film, irrational. Native production had been quantitatively inadequate for several years running. If this were not problem enough, an honest appraisal of present circumstances showed that “at least seventy-five percent of the so-called German films were financed with American money.” Most importantly, “the import of a corresponding number of American films [was] a conditio sine qua non for this German production.” The conclusion was inescapable: if theater owners sincerely desired more German movies they were obliged to screen American film. Refusal to face the reality that the German industry functioned only with American subventions was suicidal.[82] That in turn gave considerable priority to polishing Hollywood’s German image. As Lichtbildbühne baldly argued:

We who not so very long ago were still frightened by the word ‘Americanization’ are presently in the paradoxical position of having to ponder means to procure for American film domestic rights in Germany. That this product, ‘American film,’ becomes a marketable article of trade in Germany—in this alone lies the key to the whole problem Germany-America as far as we film people are concerned.[83]

In this light Parufamet appears less as the source of German woes than as a symptom of them. As a business transaction it followed logically from earlier arrangements which linked German and American firms.[84] Furthermore, UFA’s behavior was perfectly consistent with the general pattern at middecade: Germany drew on American resources for projects for which domestic support was inadequate or lacking.[85] Responses were as mixed here as in other sectors of the economy. On the one hand, it seemed pointless to bite the hand feeding German production by refusing the American movies which thanks to the quota law encouraged American investment in German production. On the other hand, it appeared fatal to theater owners to acquiesce in the onslaught of what they considered unpopular and costly American films. All had reservations about mass import of American film and sought preservation of native production. But while the one stressed the indissoluble link between German and American firms and downplayed the negative elements in this arrangement, the other lashed out at Hollywood. The clash of interests indicates the parameters within which American motion pictures were assigned a place in German culture. Caught between Hollywood’s alleged foreignness to German sensibilities and its highly prized dowry, namely, production capital, German commentators had extremely limited freedom to maneuvre.

Depending then upon the particular interests and inclinations of the observer Parufamet became analogous either to the Versailles Treaty or to the Dawes Plan. Versailles, to Germans a dictated, vengeful peace, signified Germany’s defeat, war guilt and obligation to pay reparations. The Dawes Plan of 1924, while perpetuating the Versailles system, provided massive foreign loans to Germany, chiefly from the United States, to stabilize the economy. It thereby facilitated Germany’s readmission to the international community through the multilateral Treaty of Locarno (1925) and membership in the League of Nations. Against this backdrop Herbert Ihering noted with bitter irony that a company established to propagandize Germanness abroad now served the interests of Amerikanismus in Germany. Instead of fruitful cross-fertilization, German-American film ties resulted in the triumph of one national type. Parufamet symbolized not Locarno but Versailles, the imposition by one cinema culture of its values and methods on another.[86] By contrast, the business editor of Berliner Tageblatt assumed UFA had been fortunate to gain a partnership with two leading American companies and endorsed the pact, artistically as well as commercially, for insuring Hollywood’s participation in UFA’s production. Parufamet resembled the Dawes Plan more than Versailles.[87]

With hindsight it is possible to appreciate the logic in both perspectives. The former parallel is apt inasmuch as UFA’s recourse to American aid was equivalent to surrender in the film war projected early in the decade. Like Versailles, Parufamet outlined the meaning of defeat. At the same time Parufamet resembled the Dawes Plan in its extension of funding to a capital-hungry sector of the German economy. As a business transaction it exhibited advantages and disadvantages which could be isolated and discussed. Between the extremes of UFA’s platitudes about cooperation and the cultural pessimism about Americanization lay a realism appropriate to the new sobriety of the period. Yet Parufamet also symbolized the American phase in postwar German cinema. Like the Dawes Plan it stood for more than the sum of its individual parts, namely, German dependence on the United States and American influence in German affairs.[88]

The attention drawn by Parufamet has obscured, both then and since, the extent to which alliances with American companies became the norm. At the beginning of 1925 National Film concluded a pact with Paramount to distribute American films in Germany and made no secret of plans to establish cooperative production or the appointment of an American representative to the board of directors.[89] Later that year Bruckmann entered a distribution partnership with Universal, albeit with sharp denials that the latter had acquired any corporate control. The following year it signed a cooperative agreement with Warner Bros. covering production and distribution which effectively made it an American branch office.[90] In 1926 Fox-Europa released its first productions, among them Der Trödler von Amsterdam and Die Mühle von Sanssouci, and later produced Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin, Sinfonie der Großstadt as well as Béla Balázs’s Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheins.[91] United Artists extended its field of operations first with Phoebus-Film—here cooperation included appointment of Joseph Schenck to the Phoebus board—and then with Rex-Film under the directorship of Lupu Pick.[92] First National enlisted prominent German personnel, initially Friedrich Zelnik and then Wilhelm Dieterle, for its production company. Deutsche Universal began to produce in Germany in 1927. Warner Bros. also signed an agreement with National Film for joint production.[93] In all of these the trade press generally continued to find the promise of both respectable domestic production and export to America. Hollywood’s funding of German artistic, technical and business talent was preferable to paralysis of it through lack of domestic capital or loss of it altogether to the emigration.[94]

Despite mixed responses to the Parufamet agreement, UFA also openly hitched its fortunes to the American market. Its new director, Ferdinand Bausback, appointed in the aftermath of Parufamet to restore financial accountability, announced that the age of expansion and bold experiments was over. That did not, however, mean eschewing the American market. Bausback publicly endorsed a policy of courting America, declaring that henceforth all UFA features would be suited for release in the United States. Even his assurance that the company would produce German rather than American motion pictures was qualified by the need to take “the mentality of the American public” into account.[95] His plan was clearly to introduce rational business calculation on behalf of American sales. Hugenberg’s UFA followed a similar strategy. With eyes fixed squarely on the American market, in 1927 it rehired Erich Pommer, who had left the company and the country for Hollywood in 1926, as head of its world-class production team. Pommer was on contract from an American firm (Producers’ Service Corporation) with a specific mandate to create UFA films suitable for American release.[96] Having demonstrated in the United States his skill at creation of “international” features, he was hired to duplicate the feat in Germany. His round trip from Berlin to Hollywood and back again parallels the larger circle of competition, defeat and cooperation experienced by Weimar cinema as a whole.

In the second half of the 1920s not only did America’s motion picture and corporate presence become the norm, but experts also favored, albeit with some reservations, Americanization of domestic production and promotional techniques in the interests of sales to the United States. German artists, technicians and executives routinely served the American market, if not American-backed domestic companies, and despite all the stigma attached to Hollywood generally congratulated each other for doing so. Without achieving full reciprocity they also had the satisfaction of seeing an increasing number of German features released in the United States. Thus a modus vivendi was reached—regularization of German-American film relations analogous to the relative stabilization of the period.

None of this denies the multiple grievances aired against American films or business methods. Theater owners repeatedly lamented not only the quality of the American product but the unfair practices by which it was foisted on them, particularly the blind and block booking system which obliged them to accept numerous unknown and unpopular pictures at inflated prices. Nor does it suggest that the American presence did not have other deleterious side effects. The most notorious of these was the temptation to produce cheaply in order to earn import certificates, thus depressing domestic standards while opening the market further to American imports.[97] The more pervasive pressure, one met with considerable ambivalence, was to Americanize production to suit the American moviegoer.

Nevertheless, a one-dimensional model of outrage at American industrial inroads is clearly inadequate. The American phase in the German cinema, particularly the period of crisis following signing of Parufamet, also had positive features. UFA’s liaison with Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn meant American influence over the type of movies Germans would produce and consume but also a breathing space for Germany’s most important film concern. The desire to gain a foothold in the United States, the most potent single factor in Americanization of German production, recommended collaboration with American counterparts. Therefore, despite multiple sources of friction, partnerships with Hollywood were accepted as a fact of German cinematic life. On balance, the 1920s witnessed as much or more cooperation as competition between parties in opposite national camps.


1. See Thompson, Exporting Entertainment, pp. 1–27. Apart from French firms, Denmark’s Nordisk had extensive branch operations in Germany: Altenloh, Zur Soziologie des Kino, pp. 9–10, 15–17. [BACK]

2. Eisner, The Haunted Screen, p. 7, dates the period of bloom from the end of the war to the midtwenties, as does Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler, pp. 3–5; 134–137. Cf. Kreimeier, Die Ufa-Story, p. 90; Pommer’s contemporary statement, “Internationale Film-Verständigung,” Das Tagebuch, 3 (1922), 993–995. [BACK]

3. See, for instance, Hermand and Trommler, Die Kultur der Weimarer Republik, pp. 262–263; Armstrong et al., “Alptraumfabrik?” p. 124; Kreimeier, Die Ufa-Story, pp. 152–153. [BACK]

4. Since together American and domestic pictures controlled eighty percent or more of the market, these figures essentially trace the contours of domestic film consumption. Thompson, Exporting Entertainment, p. 107, reproduces a chart for all features censored from 1923–1929. [BACK]

5. Wolffsohn (ed.), Jahrbuch der Filmindustrie, vol. III, pp. 256–257. [BACK]

6. For an early sample of the mix of art and business see “Film-Amerika in Berlin,” Berliner Tageblatt, 18 June 1922. Inflation made travel to the United States expensive until 1924; thereafter transatlantic journeys became common. [BACK]

7. See de Grazia, “Mass Culture and Sovereignty.” An illuminating study of Hollywood’s targeting of foreign markets is Ruth Vasey, “Diplomatic Representations: Mediations Between Hollywood and its Global Audiences, 1922–1939” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Exeter, 1990). Cf. Jarvie, Hollywood’s Overseas Campaign, part III. [BACK]

8. See “Das Problem der Übergangswirtschaft,” Der Film, 2 June 1917, pp. 11–16, which boasted Der Film had initiated trade discussion of adjustments to peace shortly before the United States declared war. [BACK]

9. Cf. Alfred Rosenthal, “Kinopolitische Streifzüge,” Kinematograph, 12 December 1917; “Der Film dem Weltmarkt,” Kinematograph, 27 March 1918. [BACK]

10. “Organisation ist Not?” Lichtbildbühne, 9 November 1918, p. 14, defends UFA’s critical position in this struggle. [BACK]

11. See, for instance, renewed ties between Oskar Einstein Co. and Universal: Lichtbildbühne, 18 January 1919, p. 77, and Erste Internationale Film-Zeitung, 25 January 1919, p. 15. Cf. “Die ersten Amerikaner sind eingetroffen,” Kinematograph, 29 January 1919, and complaints about film smuggled into Germany via Holland, Italy and the occupied Rhineland: Der Film, 1 February 1919, pp. 30–31. Advertisements for American pictures began to multiply in mid-1919. For covert advertising see opinion on resumption of import, “Die Internationalisierung des Films,” Erste Internationale Film-Zeitung, 11 October 1919, pp. 34–38, in which UFA director Carl Bratz, Oskar Einstein and others had opportunity to justify their business commitments. [BACK]

12. See Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv Berlin/UFA (henceforth BA-FB/UFA) 379 (Dafco). Cf. Kuntze-Just, “Guten Morgen, Ufa!,” Film-Telegramm, no. 49 (1954), 15; Hans Hagge, Das gab’s schon zweimal. Auf die Spuren der Ufa (Berlin: Henschelverlag, 1959), pp. 20–22; Horak, “Ernst Lubitsch,” p. 77. [BACK]

13. Film-Kurier introduced “Die amerikanische Gefahr für die Filmindustrie,” on 6 June 1919 and in a series of articles from 10–13 June 1919. Cf. “Einfuhr amerikanischer Filme durch die Nordische,” Der Film, 7 June 1919, pp. 25–26. “Wer hat nun recht?” Kinematograph, 25 June 1919. For justification of UFA’s conduct see C. Kersten, “ ‘Dafco’,” Lichtbildbühne, 12 July 1919, p. 10. [BACK]

14. See reports on early conferences with trade representatives in Der Film, 8 February 1919, pp. 29–30, and 15 February 1919, pp. 31–32. The debate can be followed in “Organisation der Einfuhr,” Lichtbildbühne, 30 August 1919, pp. 12–13; Film-Kurier, 30 August, 2, 6, 19, 21, 23, 25 September 1919. Cf. “Wie stellt sich der Theaterbesitzer zur Internationalisierung des Films,” Erste Internationale Film-Zeitung, 18 October 1919, pp. 36–38. [BACK]

15. Cf. the “Bericht über Situation der UFA” dated December 1919, and marked strictly confidential in BA-UFA R109I/1287, especially pp. 9–13; payment charts, Dafco to UFA, 14 November 1919, in BA-FB/UFA 379. To that point UFA and Nordisk had paid roughly one-quarter of the almost $3 million they owed American firms for distribution rights. When the contract was signed the dollar was worth 14 marks. By the end of 1919 the dollar equivalent was forty-two marks. [BACK]

16. The path to resolution can be followed in Film-Kurier, 31 August, 1 and 15 September, 24 November, 6 and 8 December 1920, 6 and 7 January 1921. [BACK]

17. The excess for the years 1922–1924 was 49,000, 56,000 and 134,000 meters respectively. Hayler, “Die deutsche Film-Industrie,” p. 179. On import trends generally see Jason, Handbuch der Filmwirtschaft, vol. I, pp. 19, 51. [BACK]

18. Jason, Handbuch der Filmwirtschaft, vol. I, pp. 18–20. [BACK]

19. In 1921 and 1922 Universal provided almost fifty percent of American imports. Most of the remainder came from several other large concerns—Famous Players (Paramount), Goldwyn and Metro. On distribution practices see Thompson, Exporting Entertainment, p. 107. [BACK]

20. Bundesarchiv-Potsdam, Reichswirtschaftsministerium 31.01/5424, pp. 81–83. Cf. Der Film, 7 August 1921, p. 20. [BACK]

21. On Madame Dubarry in America see the article from Das Tagebuch by Leopold Schwarzschild quoted in Brennicke and Hembus, Klassiker des deutschen Stummfilms, p. 246. On Caligari see Michael Budd, “The National Board of Review and the Early Art Cinema in New York: the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as Affirmative Culture,” Cinema Journal, 26 (1986), 3–18; “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Conditions of Reception,” Cine-Tracts, 3 (Winter 1981), 41–49. [BACK]

22. Cf. “Amerikaner in Berlin,” Der Film, 11 September 1920, pp. 26–27; “Auf dem Wege zur Überfremdung,” Der Film, 13 November 1920, pp. 21–22; “Rückblick,” Kinematograph, 21 November 1920. For the original contracts see “Engagement Pola Negris nach Amerika,” Film-Kurier, 10 December 1920; “UFA und Ben-Blumenthal-Rachmann,” Film-Kurier, 21 December 1920; “Auch May geht nach Dollarika,” Der Film, 25 December 1920, p. 21. [BACK]

23. See “Die UFA und Amerika,” Film-Kurier, 31 January 1921; “UFA-Famous Players,” ibid., 15 February 1921; “UFA und Famous Players,” ibid., 3 March 1921 and “Die Verträge der Amerikaner,” ibid., 4 March 1921; “Unklare Situation,” Lichtbildbühne, 12 March 1921, pp. 33–34. Olimsky, “Tendenzen der Filmwirtschaft,” p. 44, claims the Americans demanded majority shares in UFA. [BACK]

24. There is a useful summary in “Die amerikanische Expansion,” Der Film, 23 April 1921, pp. 25–26. Other notable EFA employees included Emil Jannings, Harry Liedtke, the screenwriter Hans Kraely and the cameraman Theodor Sparkuhl. For discussion of American motives see Jan-Christopher Horak, “Rin-Tin-Tin erobert Berlin oder Amerikanische Filminteressen in Weimar,” in Schatzberg and Jung (eds.), Filmkultur zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik, 258–260. [BACK]

25. Bundesarchiv-Potsdam, Reichswirtschaftsministerium 31.01/5424, pp. 38–47. [BACK]

26. Ibid., pp. 86–87. [BACK]

27. The other three were Paul Wegener’s Herzog Ferrante, Dimitri Buchowetzki’s Peter der Grosse and Georg Jacoby’s Napoleons kleiner Bruder. The balance sheet is presented in “Der Untergang der EFA,” Film-Kurier, 23 November 1922. [BACK]

28. See “Auflösung der Efa,” B.Z. am Mittag, 19 November 1922. Negri left Germany in 1922. Lubitsch made an initial trip overseas in December 1921 after completing Das Weib des Pharao, returned to direct Die Flamme and then departed again in November 1922. See Horak, “Ernst Lubitsch,” pp. 113, 118–119. [BACK]

29. Der Film, 8 January 1921, p. 25. Cf. Lubitsch’s article “Deutsche Filme und die Welt,” Film-Kurier, 5 July 1921. Davidson uttered equally loyal statements about producing German pictures in Film-Kurier, 25 April 1921. Bratz joined the chorus: Der Film, 23 October 1921, p. 48. [BACK]

30. Cf. -o- (Robert Volz), “Der Sprung nach dem Dollar,” Tägliche Rundschau, 24 April 1921; Caius, “Amerika kommt!” Kinematographische Monatshefte, May 1921, pp. 15–16; “Überfremdung?” Lichtbildbühne, 23 April 1921, pp. 11–12; Zimmerschied, Die deutsche Filmindustrie, pp. 82–84; Hayler, “Die deutsche Film-Industrie,” pp. 111–112; W. Haas, “Reflexionen vor einem indischen Grabmal,” Film-Kurier, 18 May 1921. [BACK]

31. Olimsky, “Tendenzen der Filmwirtschaft,” p. 43. For other post mortem analyses see “Der Untergang der EFA,” Film-Kurier, 23 November 1922; W. Haas, “November-Films,” Das blaue Heft, 4 (1922), 129–131; “EFA,” Kinematograph, 26 November 1922, and the material cited in Brennicke and Hembus, Klassiker des deutschen Stummfilms, pp. 246–247. [BACK]

32. Olimsky, “Tendenzen der Filmwirtschaft,” pp. 26–27, claims ten percent for 1923. Spiker, Film und Kapital, pp. 36–37, cites a figure of thirty to forty percent over the period 1921–1923. [BACK]

33. Sklar, Movie-Made America, p. 215. The phenomenon was not peculiar to Germany or the interwar period. Cf. Swann, The Hollywood Feature Film, p. 94. How bizarre circumstances were even in 1920 can be seen in the boast of Paul Davidson that in one week in New York Madame Dubarry more than recovered its entire production costs. See “Der deutsche Film im Ausland,” Berliner Tageblatt, 5 April 1921. [BACK]

34. Cf. “Amerikana,” Film-Kurier, 31 January 1921; “Amerikanische Spielfilme nach deutschem Muster,” ibid., 30 March 1921; and three articles in Berliner Tageblatt: “Der deutsche Film im Ausland,” 5 April 1921, “Eine Krisis in der amerikanische Filmindustrie,” 6 June 1921; “Der deutsche Film als Exportmittel,” 13 July 1921. [BACK]

35. “Ein deutscher Weltrekord: Ein deutscher Film schlägt Griffith und Chaplin,” Lichtbildbühne, 5 November 1921, p. 41; “Neues vom Auslande,” Kinematograph, 1 January 1922. Cf. Joseph Delmont’s remarks in “Der deutsche Film in 1921,” Der Film, 1 January 1921, pp. 34–35, and the very deprecatory opinions of Hollywood expressed in “Amerikas Film-Produktion und -Export,” Film-Kurier, 3 May 1921. [BACK]

36. Rudolf Berg, “Amerika und der deutsche Film,” B.Z. am Mittag, 11 June 1922. [BACK]

37. “Amerika und die Amerikaner,” (interview with Rosenfeld), Kinematograph, 29 July 1923, p. 9. E. H. Correll, “Das amerikanische Problem,” ibid., 19 August 1923, p. 13. All three experts took at face value American complaints about the ponderous, morbid and unedifying quality of German films. Cf. “Mary Pickford in Berlin,” Lichtbildbühne, 22 April 1924. [BACK]

38. “Die Krisis in den Glashäusern,” Berliner Tageblatt, 21 January 1923. [BACK]

39. Cf. warnings about gearing films to foreign audiences in order to dump them abroad from Balthasar (Roland Schacht), “Vor der Drohung des Auslands,” Freie Deutsche Bühne, 2 (1921), 719, and “Rückblick,” p. 1030; Paul Ickes, “Produktions-Politik,” Film-Kurier, 28 February 1922; C. K. Brand, “Die Filmkrise,” Berliner Tageblatt, 25 October 1921; Homunculus, “Im Zeichen des Dollars,” Reichsfilmblatt, 1 September 1923, pp. 12–16. In January 1921 a dollar cost sixty-five marks. [BACK]

40. Wolffsohn (ed.), Jahrbuch der Filmindustrie, vol. I, pp. 346–347. On the chaos resulting from collapse of the mark see Max Schach, “Panik?” Berliner Börsen-Courier, no. 411, 2 September 1923, p. 7. UFA’s retreat to distribution and theater operations was earlier noted by J-s. (Paul Ickes), “Die UFA-Dividende,” Film-Kurier, 27 November 1922; Egon Jacobsohn, “Das Film-Jahr 1922,” B.Z. am Mittag, 31 December 1922. [BACK]

41. Aros, (Alfred Rosenthal), “Die Eroberung Deutschlands,” Kinematograph, 10 June 1923, pp. 5–6. Willy Haas, “Film-Resümee 1922–23,” Das blaue Heft, 4 (1923), 447–449. Wolfgang Martini, “Münchener Filmbrief,” Kinematograph, 1 October 1923, pp. 2–3. [BACK]

42. See BA-UFA R109I/1026a, 23 September 1927, pt. 16. Cf. BA-UFA R109I/1027a, 6 July 1928, pt. 2, where threatened loss of three to four million marks in American earnings if export versions were not ready on time sparked the decision to work around the clock to meet a deadline. [BACK]

43. Long-term, official loans alone totaled over $1.4 billion between 1924 and 1930. Werner Link, “Der amerikanische Einfluss auf die Weimarer Republik in der Dawesplanphase (Elemente eines ‘penetrierten Systems’),” in H. Mommsen, D. Petzina, B. Weissbrod (eds.) Industrielles System and politische Entwicklung in der Weimarer Republik (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1974), p. 489. More generally see William C. McNeil, American Money and the Weimar Republic (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986). [BACK]

44. Kallmann, “Die Konzernierung in der Filmindustrie,” p. 27; “Eine amerikanisch-deutsche Alliance,” Lichtbildbühne, 19 July 1924, p. 20; “Phoebus - Metro - Goldwyn,” ibid., 11 October 1924, p. 20. [BACK]

45. Cf. in Lichtbildbühne: “United Artist - Ifa,” 22 August 1925, p. 11; “United Artists in Deutschland,” 5 September 1925, pp. 14–15; “First National verleiht,” 1 May 1926, p. 20; Thompson, Exporting Entertainment, p. 111. [BACK]

46. Horak, “Rin-Tin-Tin erobert Berlin,” emphasizes the resistance to reciprocity on the part of the American companies. [BACK]

47. For the race to Berlin see ibid., pp. 262–263; Kreimeier, Die Ufa-Story, p. 152. [BACK]

48. See BA-UFA R109I/510, indexed as UFA Films Inc. N.Y., with the letter from von Stauss to F. W. Jones in New York (1 August 1924) outlining the aims of the new company. UFA simultaneously sought to raise its American profile through personal diplomacy in Hollywood. See “Empfang in Los Angeles,” Lichtbildbühne, 15 November 1924, p. 17. [BACK]

49. See BA-UFA R109I/1046, Geschäftsbericht 1924–1925, in which expenditures in all branches of the firm were portrayed as excessive given the general economic situation, but absolutely necessary in the face of American inroads. Cf. Kuntze-Just, “Guten Morgen, Ufa!” Film-Telegramm, no. 1 (1955), 10. [BACK]

50. The press statement is reproduced in “An der Jahreswende,” Süddeutsche Filmzeitung, 8 January 1926, p. 1. [BACK]

51. Paul Elsberg, “Was steht in den UFA Verträgen?” Vossische Zeitung, 8 January 1926. The pact with Universal was also for ten years and brought UFA a further loan of $275,000. [BACK]

52. Roland Schacht commented that there had obviously been some major blunders in UFA management to allow Hollywood an entrance. “Blick auf die Walstatt,” Das blaue Heft, 8 (1926), 25–26. [BACK]

53. -g. (G. Herzberg), “Ein König im Exil,” Film-Kurier, 5 May 1926, claimed that tumultuous howling and whistling had become the norm for almost every American premiere in Berlin. Cf. the reception of Erich Stroheim’s Greed discussed in chapter four. [BACK]

54. “und der deutsche Film?” Vossische Zeitung, 1 January 1926. The trade press withheld judgment on the condition that UFA remained a German company making German motion pictures. See Dr. R. V. [Robert Volz], “An der Jahreswende,” Süddeutsche Filmzeitung, 8 January 1926, p. 1; “Der neue Kurs,” Lichtbildbühne, 2 January 1926, pp. 9–11. [BACK]

55. BA-UFA R109I/121: Agreement between Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft and Famous-Players-Lasky Corporation regarding distribution of “UFA” Pictures in America, pt. 1c. This folio includes both English and German copies of the pact. [BACK]

56. Ibid., pt. ld. [BACK]

57. BA-UFA R109I/121: Agreement between Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and UFA Filmvertrieb Gesellschaft regarding distribution of Metro-Goldwyn Pictures in Germany, pt. 2l. [BACK]

58. Heinrich Stürmer (Kurt Pinthus), “Deutscher oder amerikanischer Film?” Das Tagebuch, 6 (1925), 1699–1703. [BACK]

59. Herbert Ihering, Von Reinhardt bis Brecht: vier Jahrzehnte Theater und Film, 3 vols. (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1958–1961), vol. II, pp. 508–509. [BACK]

60. See Schacht’s remarks in “Blick auf die Walstatt,” Das blaue Heft, 8 (1926), 23–26; “Der Anmarsch der Sieger,” ibid, 57. [BACK]

61. Cf. the affirmative assessment of Erich Pommer’s role in Kurt Mühsam, “Friedliche Eroberung,” Lichtbildbühne, 24 May 1924, pp. 10–11; “Das Programm der UFA,” ibid., 5 September 1925, pp. 13–14. Later assessments are much more mixed. Cf. Roland Schacht’s indictment in “Filme,” Das blaue Heft, 8 (1926), 114–119; Fried. (Otto Friedrich), “Erich Pommer,” Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, no. 49, 30 January 1926; Wolffgang Fischer, “Hie Deutschland—hie Amerika!” Deutsche Filmwoche, 26 March 1926; Hermann Treuner, “Der Amerikavertrag der Ufa und der deutsche Film,” Der Reichsbote, 13 March 1926. [BACK]

62. UFA was to release twenty pictures from Paramount and twenty-one from Metro-Goldwyn. The actual feature releases numbered eleven and fifteen respectively, plus fifteen from First National and twelve from Warner Bros. See BA-UFA R109I/2440, Verleih-Abteilung der UFA, pp. 23–25, 33a. The First National contracts are in BA-FB/UFA 257. [BACK]

63. -z. (Robert Volz), “Die UFA beherrscht das Feld,” Süddeutsche Filmzeitung, 14 August 1925; “Die UFA und Amerika,” Film-Kurier, 7 August 1925. [BACK]

64. See “Filmpolitik der Stunde,” Lichtbildbühne, 12 September 1925, pp. 9–10; “Die amerikanischen Verträge und wir,” Reichsfilmblatt, 15 August 1925, pp. 11–12; “UFA-Politik,” Lichtbildbühne, 8 August 1925, pp. 9–10. [BACK]

65. Otto Kriegk, Der deutsche Film im Spiegel der UFA: 25 Jahre Kampf und Vollendung (Berlin: UFA-Buchverlag, 1943), pp. 118, 124–127, styled Hugenberg a national hero for rescuing UFA from American-Jewish hands. Traub, Die UFA, pp. 63–66, 95, expressed similar opinions. UFA published a record of its fortunes in about 1943—Die UFA (n.p., n.d.)—which opened with the year 1927, thus excising the pre-Hugenberg period from its history. [BACK]

66. For champions of cinema art like Willy Haas the decline of German film coincided with but was not caused by Hugenberg’s purchase of UFA. See his remarks in “Filmkrise und kein Ende,” Die Literarische Welt, 15 April 1927, p. 7; Cf. Michael Kurd, “Das Schicksal der UFA,” Welt am Abend, 17 December 1926; Horak, “Ernst Lubitsch,” p. 121. [BACK]

67. G.H. (Georg Herzberg), “Madame Dubarry und wir,” Film-Kurier, 6 August 1925. [BACK]

68. Cf. Arthur Heichen, “Der Amerikavertrag der UFA,” Berliner Tageblatt, no. 13, 8 January 1926; “Der neue Kurs,” Lichtbildbühne, 2 January 1926, p. 10; the government report in Bundesarchiv-Reichskanzlei R43I/2498, p. 267; Funk, “Voran UFA,” Welt am Montag, 22 March 1926, claimed these clauses offered Germany the chance to claim its rightful place in the cinematic sun. [BACK]

69. Cf. the denial “Falsche Gerüchte,” Lichtbildbühne, 17 April 1926, p. 7, and the later sharp attack on UFA “Wenn Verträge verschwiegen werden,” ibid., 5 May 1927; Axel Eggebrecht, “Deutscher Filmfrühling 1927,” Die Weltbühne, 23 (1927), vol. I, p. 755. [BACK]

70. No time was wasted in pressing for revision of the Parufamet contract. See BA-UFA R109I/1026a, 2 May 1927, pt. 2, and 13 August 1927, pt. 2. Cf. BA-UFA R109I/1046, Geschäftsbericht 1927–1928, and details in Kuntze-Just, “Guten Morgen, Ufa!” Film-Telegramm, no. 4 (1955), 13. Once sound pictures complicated an already unhappy relationship the pact was annulled. See BA-UFA R109I/1027b 15 August 1930, pt. 6; 16 September 1930, pt. 9. [BACK]

71. Details are in chapter four. [BACK]

72. See Beissel’s articles: “Die amerikanische Gefahr,” Reichsfilmblatt, 23 February 1924, pp. 9–10; “Nochmals die amerikanische Gefahr,” ibid., 8 March 1924, p. 5. Cf. the rebuttal “Immer für deutsche Interessen!” Lichtbildbühne, 15 March 1924, pp. 16–17. [BACK]

73. “Ist das deutsche Kinopublikum amerikamüde?” Reichsfilmblatt, 6 December 1924, p. 13. [BACK]

74. See Reichsfilmblatt, 20 September 1924, pp. 35–36; 18 October 1924, pp. 32–33; 24 January 1925, pp. 42–43; 28 February 1925, pp. 52–53; 11 July 1925, pp. 11–12; 19 September 1925, p. 16. [BACK]

75. Reichsfilmblatt: 23 January 1926, pp. 9–10; 30 January 1926, pp. 14–15; 13 March 1926, p. 4. [BACK]

76. See “Der König im Exil,” Der Film, 9 May 1926, p. 18, and on “Mädchenscheu” and “Ein Dieb im Paradies,” ibid., 7 March 1926, pp. 19 and 21. [BACK]

77. Careful editing became a trade panacea. “Das ist das alte Lied . . . ,” Film-Kurier, 7 April 1926; “Deutsche ‘Verarbeitung’,” Film-Kurier, 10 May 1926; “Die UFA gegen den amerikanischen Film,” Lichtbildbühne, 10 May 1926; “Negativ-Dramaturgie,” Lichtbildbühne, 18 May 1926; Aros, “Der Film der Zukunft,” Kinematograph, 23 May 1926, pp. 2–3. [BACK]

78. “Der Reichsverband in Abwehrstellung,” Süddeutsche Filmzeitung, 21 May 1926, p. 2; “Boykott oder Bündnis?” Film-Kurier, 20 March 1926. Pr., “Reichsverband und amerikanischer Film,” Lichtbildbühne, 22 May 1926, pp. 14–16. [BACK]

79. Large, vertically integrated concerns like UFA, had conflicting interests in this matter. [BACK]

80. See Aros, “Blick in die Zukunft,” Kinematograph, 7 March 1926, pp. 5–6; “Die amerikanische Gefahr,” ibid., 9 May 1926, pp. 5–6. [BACK]

81. Rosenthal also identified vested interests at work. He distinguished between German firms working with Hollywood and profiting thereby, and those facing competition without American partners and trying to avenge themselves by clamorous warnings about the “American danger.” “Blick in die Zukunft,” Kinematograph, 7 March 1926, p. 5. [BACK]

82. See Rosenthal, “Antiamerikanische Offensive,” ibid., 16 March 1926, pp. 5–6; “Merkwürdige Film-Politiker,” ibid., 20 May 1926, pp. 5–6. Cf. Willy Haas, “Meine Meinung,” Die Literarische Welt, 11 June 1926, p. 2, who claimed that the “respectable trade press” was calling for international cooperation in recognition of the fact that American setbacks in Germany meant setbacks for the native cinema. [BACK]

83. “Platz für den amerikanischen Film,” Lichtbildbühne, 5 June 1926, pp. 7–10. [BACK]

84. Fritz Olimsky, “Filmbilanz,” Berliner Börsen-Zeitung, 1 January 1926, p. 4. [BACK]

85. That UFA had accepted American funding even though its board had representatives from a score of large and small German banks disturbed some commentators. Cf. -ns, “War der Ufavertrag notwendig?” Der Deutsche, 3 January 1926; Hermann Treuner, “Der Amerikavertrag der Ufa und der deutsche Film,” Der Reichsbote, 13 March 1926; Avk., “U.F.A.=U.S.A.,” Neue Preussische Kreuzzeitung, 16 December 1926. [BACK]

86. Herbert Ihering, “Die Zukunft der UFA,” Berliner Börsen-Courier, 11 January 1926, p. 2. [BACK]

87. See the editorial afterword which corrected Arthur Heichen, “Der Amerikavertrag der UFA,” Berliner Tageblatt, 8 January 1926. Heichen compared Parufamet very unfavorably with the Dawes Plan because he believed it would check rather than stimulate German production. [BACK]

88. Analogies to Versailles and Locarno were suggested in “Vor der Entscheidung,” Lichtbildbühne, 12 December 1925, p. 9; “Das Ufa-Problem,” ibid., 15 March 1926. The broader parallel with the Dawes Plan is mentioned by Kuntze-Just, “Guten Morgen, Ufa!” Film-Telegramm, no. 1 (1955), 10. [BACK]

89. Hermann Rosenfeld, “National und Paramount,” Film-Kurier, 11 January 1925. [BACK]

90. “Universal-Bruckmann,” Lichtbildbühne, 3 October 1925, p. 14; “In Sachen: Bruckmann-Universal,” Bruckmann-Nachrichten, November 1925; “Bruckmann-Warner Bros.,” Lichtbildbühne, 9 April 1926. [BACK]

91. See “Die große Fox-Schau in der Alhambra,” Lichtbildbühne, 10 October 1925, p. 14; “Deutsche-Fox Produktion,” ibid., 6 February 1926, p. 23; “F.E.F. Fox Europa Film-Produktions G.m.b.H.,” ibid., 12 June 1926, p. 14. [BACK]

92. “United Artists - Phoebus,” ibid., 3 May 1926; Kurt Mühsam, “Amerika filmt in Deutschland,” B.Z. am Mittag, 1 April 1927. [BACK]

93. Curt Kramarski, “Die Amerikanisierung des deutschen Films,” Welt am Montag, 23 April 1928; Kurt Mühsam, “Deutsch-amerikanische Filmgemeinschaften,” B.Z. am Mittag, 10 June 1927. [BACK]

94. For the pattern of responses see Kurt Mühsam, “Europäische Kultur-amerikanische Technik,” B.Z. am Mittag, 19 October 1928; “Amerika kommt zu uns!” Film-Journal, 20 May 1927; “Amerika als deutscher Produzent,” Film-Kurier, 7 May 1926; “Deutsch-amerikanische Filmunion,” Film-Kurier, 9 June 1927. [BACK]

95. “Dr. Bausback über die deutsch-amerikanischen Filmbeziehungen,” Lichtbildbühne, 14 and 15 June 1926. [BACK]

96. On Pommer see chapter eight. [BACK]

97. See “Die Einkreisung,” Lichtbildbühne, 25 July 1925, pp. 5–6; “Amerikanisierung und deutsche Filmindustrie,” ibid., 29 August 1925, pp. 9–10. [BACK]

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