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Hollywood Ascendant: American Films in Hungary in the 1970s
Published February 1, 2021

Hungarian cultural policy makers denied Hungarian viewers access to American films between 1949 and 1956. Hollywood movies were publicly shown again behind the Iron Curtain from 1957 in spite of hostile American–Hungarian bilateral relations after the crushing of the Revolution of 1956. The de-Stalinized cultural policy of Hungary allowed for... one third of the films released in Hungarian cinemas to come from capitalist countries. In the 1970s the United States became the largest non-socialist film exporter to Hungary and Hollywood export “sky-rocketed” at the end of the decade. The annual purchase of thirteen to twenty-nine American films still made it possible to apply ideological filters; however, only a part of the films released in Hungary could be regarded as useful in representing negative social trends in the United States. The majority of Hollywood movies screened in Hungary should rather be labeled as entertaining, and these served leisure on one hand and financial considerations on the other. Entertainment was recognized as a legitimate demand of the public after 1956 and the program of the cinemas had to be supplemented from Western sources. In the 1970s Hollywood became the number one Western movie entertainer in communist Hungary. The narrowing budgetary sources of cultural policy and the need for self-financing also paved the way for this tendency. (RT)

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Eugene Havas and an Early Attempt at Personal Diplomacy to Normalize US-Hungarian Relations, 1960-1964
Published June 28, 2020

After the fall of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence, communist Hungary had struggled to break out of diplomatic isolation. The government formed by Secretary General of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party János Kádár had not been recognized by the Western powers, including the United States of America. American- Hung...arian bilateral relations, therefore, were rather strained, and before the restitution of Hungary’s full status in the United Nations Organization, the US minimized the communication between the two countries. To change this, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Service working under the aegis of the Ministry of Internal Affairs endeavored to engage expatriates—more or less famous or well-known professionals who still had some family connection to Hungary—as amateur gobetweens and semi-assets in order to find channels of communication with the American political elite and thus, via personal diplomacy, foster better relations between the two countries. The essay discusses the case of Eugene Havas (1899-1967), American economic expert and journalist of Hungarian decent. The representatives of the Kádár regime had great expectations towards him as an intermediary, this notwithstanding, as the essay will conclusively demonstrate the effect of Havas’s activities remained rather limited. (IP)

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