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Aleksanteri Conference







Starck, Kathleen

In Love with the Other  - Russian-American Relationships in Early Cold War Films

With the possible exception of the Second World War, few chapters in world history have produced such an abundance of films as the Cold War, with the probably biggest output of these created by Hollywood. The American cinema, especially during the early Cold War, often presented its audiences with clear-cut East-West divisions and sometimes very plain anti-communist messages. Thus, film historians will be familiar with a myriad of 1940s, 50s and 60s spy movies, thrillers, science fiction movies and films about “the bomb,” which leave no doubt as to which side the viewers are to sympathise with. Early American Cold War films that come to mind are, for example, Iron Curtain (1948), Big Jim McLain (1952), My Son John (1952), Blood Alley (1955), Them (1954), Walk East on Beacon (1952), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Manchurian Candidate (1963), or The Defector (1966).
In spite of its tremendous output, the United States were not the only country combining state propaganda and cinema. America’s allies, such as Great Britain, likewise fostered a film industry, if in a different way, which produced ideologically pregnant Cold War films, such as The Prisoner (1955), The Man Between (1955), or the James Bond series as the most famous example.

However, there also exist a number of British and American films with a focus on human relationships rather than on Western versus Eastern worldviews. Among these, it is particularly boundary-crossing love stories, which question the validity of ideologies and their effects on people’s (private) lives. Moreover, these films offer a perception of “the Other,” which implies that there might be more similarities than differences between East and West than official state policy allows for.
In this paper I will analyse how this effect is achieved and what techniques are used to make “the Other” appear more human, or even “the same.” The films in point are The Young Lovers (UK, 1954), One, Two Three (USA, 1961), and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (USA, 1966).

Friday 30 Oct, 6.15-18.15 SESSION 6
Panel: On the Big Screen: Cinema in the Cold War II