Skip to main content
Got a tip?

Thomas Doherty

More from Thomas Doherty

Hollywood’s Messy Tradition of Newspaper Yarns

Based on New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s account of their harpooning of the powerhouse producer and loathsome sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, Maria Schrader’s She Said had a lot going for it: two congenial performers (Carey Mulligan as Twohey and Zoe Kazan as Kantor); a narrative fixation on the target of opportunity; […]

Unearthing a Forgotten Episode of Hollywood’s Blacklist Era, 75 Years Later

Seventy-five years ago, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC for purposes of pronunciation) launched the first of its series of postwar investigations into alleged communist subversion in Hollywood. The show trial was staged from Oct. 20 to 30, 1947, and you can probably rewind the newsreel images in your mind’s eye: the unhinged committee […]

When Anti-War ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ Provoked Nazi Backlash, Shocking Hollywood

“Out Jews!” howled Josef Goebbels. “A dirty film made in America!” The Nazi propagandist was on his feet in the front row of the balcony at Berlin’s ornate Mozartsaal, frothing at the motion picture screen. Behind Goebbels, dozens of brown shirted thugs joined in the jeering — and released white mice and set off stink […]

Why’d That Movie Disappear? Welcome to Streaming’s Memory Hole Era

The French director, film critic and voracious cinephile Francois Truffaut once suggested a thought experiment. Imagine, he said, that there was only one copy of a book, and that copy was held in a single library, and you could only read it while inside that library. This was how film lovers were obliged to check […]

“TV – That’s Where Movies Go When They Die”: Rewatching the First Televised Oscars

In the postwar turf fight between the motion picture industry and the television networks, the first telecast of an Academy Awards ceremony by NBC on March 19, 1953 marked the beginning of grudging truce: The movies would use TV to lure audiences back into theaters and TV would use the movies to sell television. As […]

When MGM Ruled Hollywood: The Rise (and Fall) of Amazon’s Next Prize

Ars gratia artis is the motto curving above the headshot of a roaring lion, a corporate logo as well known as any designed by twentieth-century capitalism. We know what to expect next, but the curtain raiser is a double misdirection, first because Latin was not the usual second language spoken around the studio (that would […]

How Hollywood Has Kept One Step Ahead of Regulators

The rumors, news and inside gossip that herald mega media deals of Discovery Inc. and Warner-Media, and Amazon and MGM, repeat a familiar tale of consolidation and control among the apex predators of the entertainment business. The idea has been to staple together the flow charts of production, distribution and exhibition (vertical integration) while extending […]

A Hollywood Pastime: When Studios, Filmmakers Hit Back at Criticism

At the social media watercooler during the holidays, a flare-up erupted over Netflix’s Don’t Look Up, Adam McKay’s allegorical disaster film that, despite an all-star cast, earned less than stellar reviews from critics. McKay’s corner rushed in to dispute the call from what they deemed pretentious elites. “It’s our Dr. Strangelove for today!” gushed director […]

Film Noir’s Early Days: How Studios Resisted, Then Embraced, the Genre

“The picture is a morbid, seamy story dealing with the dregs of humanity,” wrote Terry Ramsaye, editor of Motion Picture Herald, in 1946. The bottom feeder in question was Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945), which had somehow slipped by the Breen office to incite the wrath of straitlaced critics and municipal censors. “One of these […]

The Crew Strike That Shut Down Hollywood In 1945

In the annals of the bloody and sometimes lethal battles between labor, management, and law enforcement, the melee that erupted outside the entrance of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank on Oct. 5, 1945, may not be the most notable: some concussions and contusions, cars overturned and some activists jailed. Though hundreds of pickets, strikebreakers and […]

When Leni Riefenstahl Came to Hollywood (Guest Column)

In November 1938, Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl visited Hollywood to secure an American distribution deal for Olympia, her epic two-part, four-and-a-half hour long documentary record of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a dazzling showcase for athletic prowess, cinematic virtuosity, and Nazi pageantry. The trip did not go well. Riefenstahl’s winter of discontent in California has inspired […]

When Moviegoers Started Watching Films From the Beginning (Guest Column)

Of the many cinematic "firsts" credited to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' 60 years ago, the change it brought to the ritual of how people frequented cinemas may be the most consequential.