From the very first days of the establishment of the studio system people with dreams of being a star arrived from nowhere – ville to claim their place in Hollywood history. They arrived with their past wrapped up in a suitcase and their future uncertain. For every one person who made it there were hundreds who didn’t. But this story is not actually about the wannabe stars nor is it about the studio system it is about a parallel situation now happening all across America where people arriving with baggage are being deemed unsuitable and sent packing. Stars like Valentino, like Lupe Valez, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo were all immigrants.
Even Jerry Lewis ( pictured ) was Jewish. Hollywood has made many films on immigration, on displacement of peoples from their lands and on the atrocities and injustices of war. In fact these immigrant stars from nowhere -ville actually starred in them. Who could forget Rudolph Valentino in ‘Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse’ or Glenn Ford in its remake? A film about a family torn apart by war with brothers fighting on opposite sides. My point being that America has benefitted from its immigrants not only in Hollywood but in every walk of life. Now they are being vetted? Two films spring to mind which reflect what is happening now. These were not oscar greats but were based on very important novels of the day. Let’s start with ‘A Face In The Crowd’ starring Andy Griffiths and Patricia Neal. A film in which a reality T.V. star turns on all who helped him reach the top, marries a child bride and enters politics. He is absorbed with himself and his greed and isolates himself in a tower in Manhattan. Sound familiar? The next is ‘The Ugly American’ starring Marlon Brando which went largely ignored. A film starring the great Marlon Brando too. Maybe it was the title that put people off? The film was essentially about the failure of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps interferring in the politics of other countries, in this case the mock country of Sarkhan ( Thailand ) during a communist revolution. and highlights the insensitivities to language, culture and customs. The American Ambassador arrives with his own baggage. A simplistic American view of how Sarkhan could and should solve its problems. A modern day Syria perhaps? I even read an article today in which an American reporter referred to Britain as a country. Britain was four countries. England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Britain no longer exists. I wonder … Has the writer of that article heard of Brexit? This is not by any means anti American. Merely anti arrogance and ignorance. America will prevail and will remain a shining beacon for those from nowhere -ville. Of this, I am, ever hopeful.