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Skirball Cultural Center

2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 - (310) 440-4500

Sunset Blvd., 1950. Directed by Billy Wilder. Courtesy: Photofest.

Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950

October 2014–March 2015


  • Included with Museum admission:
  • $10 General
  • $7 Seniors and Full-Time Students
  • $5 Children 2–12
  • FREE to Members and Children under 2
  • FREE to all on Thursdays


Hollywood’s film history is a Jewish and an American story alike. The exhibition Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950 highlights the émigré actors, directors, writers, and composers who were refugees from Nazi persecution in Europe—exploring the origins of their exclusion from the German film industry and focusing on their subsequent contributions to American cinema and culture.

Film directors from German-speaking countries—such luminaries as Henry Koster, Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann—made their way to California via Berlin, Paris, and London, and shaped the look of Hollywood's “Golden Age.” Oscar-winning composers such as Erich Korngold and Franz Waxman created its sound, and acclaimed writers—from Salka Viertel to Franz Werfel—its stories. Already established émigrés, such as the director Ernst Lubitsch, the actress Marlene Dietrich, and the agent Paul Kohner, helped the new exiles and émigrés find their path in Hollywood.

Different genres in which the European émigrés were especially productive, such as the exile film, the anti-Nazi film, film noir, and comedy, are highlighted. Well-known films are presented alongside new discoveries using film footage, concept drawings, costumes, posters, photographs, and memorabilia to tell the story of Hollywood's formative era through the lens of the émigré experience.

Light & Noir demonstrates how the experiences of exodus and exile affected the lives and work of émigrés in many different ways. It is a story of immigration, acculturation, and innovation that intersects with the flourishing of Hollywood as an American cultural phenomenon.


Co-presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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