In Inglourious Basterds when Lt. Archie Hicox is briefed by Gen. Fenech and Winston Churchill, his qualities as movie expert are put to a little test when he is asked by Churchill about Joseph Goebbels in his role as a movie producer:

Churchill: You say he wants to take on the Jews at their own game? Compared to say Louis B. Mayer...how's he doing?

Hicox: Quite well, actually. Since Goebbels has taken over, film attendance has steadily risen in Germany over the last eight years. But Louis B.Mayer wouldn't be Goebbels proper opposite number. I believe Goebbels see's himself closer to David O. Selznick.

After which Chuchill agrees to brief Hicox for the upcoming operation. So there has to be some truth in Hicox's explanations, a truth that Churchill as a (I suppose) non-expert understood. But I for myself, being not too well-versed in Hollywood history, am not sure if this was a correct comparison or not. So in which way was Joseph Goebbels in his role as a movie producer more similar to David O. Selznick than to Louis B. Mayer?

(While it may also just have been a rather arbitrary comparison not supposed to be made much sense of, with Tarantino's and the whole movie's general obsession with the movies, I bet there to be some truth or reference in this statement.)

1 Answer 1


A few tidbits that I can pull from looking at both David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer via Wikipedia:

  1. Louis B. Mayer was pretty much the figure head of MGM during its golden years, and is considered the creator of the "star system", focusing more on producing and advertising films around the stars in his films rather than the films themselves.

  2. David O. Selznick is the producer behind Gone with the Wind, the most profitable film ever made (adjusting for inflation). Selznick still had great success after Gone with the Wind, but he could never quite outdo Gone with the Wind in terms of success. He also longed to be a producer with his own company, and not simply releasing films through larger studios such as MGM or Paramount. He eventually did form his own studio, Selznick International Pictures, in 1935.

  3. Both men are very prominent Hollywood producers, and both are Jewish. This is probably where the bit about, "You say he wants to take on the Jews at their own game," comes from.

  4. Selznick worked under Mayer at MGM at various periods in the 1920s and early 1930s before leaving to begin his own studio, Selznick International Pictures, in 1935.

As such, you could sort of compare Mayer to Hitler, and Selznick to Goebels. Mayer was the head of an extremely large motion picture empire during the 1930s and 1940s. Until Selznick broke out on his own, he was pretty much beholden to the higher powers of studios much bigger than he was. Even when he formed his own studio, it still took help from MGM to release Gone with the Wind.

So, it seems to me the reason he says Goebels probably sees himself as closer to Selznick than Mayer is because Selznick, while successful, still had to rely pretty heavily on the efforts of larger entities than himself for his works to see the light of day.


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