Thu, Nov. 3 at 7pm – The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair
In 1934, famed writer and socialist Upton Sinclair swept the Democratic primary for governor of California, leading a mass End Poverty movement. To defeat him that fall, his opponents created one of the dirtiest, and most influential, campaigns in U.S. history, and Hollywood took its first all-out plunge into politics.
About the Program
In The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair we explore how Sinclair’s grassroots End Poverty in California crusade, in the depths of the Great Depression, was destroyed by the powers-that-be, with most of the Hollywood moguls lending a hand.
This is the first film to focus on the revered MGM producer Irving Thalberg ordering the creation of the first “attack ads” to appear on a screen, a forerunner of today’s toxic media-based politics. The film reveals and analyzes highlights from the three “Thalberg shorts” along with interviews with participants in the EPIC campaign and observers of the crucial impact of those films in 1934–and their influence since.
The film also shows how the 1934 race marked the rise of political “spin doctors” and the modern campaign techniques that will continue to dominate campaigning in 2022 and beyond. Greg Mitchell, writer and director of the film, is author of the classic book about the race, The Campaign of the Century, recently named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books ever written about an election. Producer Lyn Goldfarb directed an episode of PBS’s award-winning Great Depression series partly relating to the Sinclair race. (26 minutes, USA, 2022).
Information provided by gregmitchphoto.com.
Directed by Greg Mitchell and Produced by Lyn Goldfarb.