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Catalog Archive / Fall 2022

Continental Films
French Cinema under German Control

Wisconsin Film Studies
Patrick McGilligan, Series Editor

Awarded the Best French Film Book Prize by the Syndicate of French Film Critics

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

“Soon to become a classic among film books. . . . A real page turner.”
La Septième Obsession, praise for the French edition

From 1940 to 1944, the German-owned Continental Films dominated the French film landscape, producing thirty features throughout the Nazi occupation. Charged with producing entertaining and profitable films rather than propaganda, producer Alfred Greven employed some of the greatest French actors and most prestigious directors of the time, including Maurice Tourneur, Henri Decoin, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Marcel Carné.

Christine Leteux has produced the most authoritative and complete history of the company and its impact on the French film industry—both during the war and after. She examines not only the formation and management of Continental Films but also the personalities involved, the fraught and often deadly political circumstances of the period, the critical reception of the films, and many of the more notorious and controversial events.

As Bertrand Tavernier explains in his foreword, Leteux overturns many of the preconceptions and clichés that have come to be associated with Continental Films. Published to rave reviews in French and translated by the author into English, this work shatters expectations and will reinvigorate study of a lesser-known but significant period of French film history.


Christine Leteux. Christine Leteux is the author of the biographies Albert Capellani: Cinéaste du romanesque (self-translated into English as Albert Capellani: Pioneer of the Silent Screen) and Maurice Tourneur: Réalisateur sans frontières. She is the translator of several books by British film historian and filmmaker Kevin Brownlow and the winner of the Raymond Chirat Prize, awarded by the Lumière Institute in Lyon.

Christine Leteux's Blog -




“[A] penetrating monograph. . . . Leteux writes with a trial lawyer’s precision, packing copious research into just over 200 pages. . . . Leteux has produced a detailed picture of an industry under duress that never bogs down in unnecessary details.”
Shepherd Express

“The most accurate and dramatic account yet of this remarkable period. . . . Leteux’s own detective work is extraordinary. With precise prose she illuminates a dark corner of film history where for too long rumours and lies have subsumed the facts.”
Sight & Sound

“Well-informed and engaging. . . . Leteux deftly handles both the cinematic, moral, and political complexities which Continental had to navigate.”

“Captivating. . . . Leteux’s book is equally good at the wide-angle picture of a country and a film industry at war, and the small, unexpected detail. . . . One can only agree with Bertrand Tavernier’s enthusiastic foreword and share his ‘jubilation’ at this enlightening and, in spite of its dark and tragic setting, entertaining book.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“In chapter after chapter, Leteux reveals astonishing facts about Continental’s history, personnel, and productions. Her engrossing, impeccably researched book adds nuance to the picture of filmmaking in occupied France and is a necessary corrective to more simplistic treatments of the subject. . . . Highly recommended.”
CHOICE Reviews


Praise for the French edition

“A striking 400-page ‘feature film’ as precise as the mechanics of a vintage Simplex projector. ‘I’ve been waiting for such a book for years,’ exclaims Bertrand Tavernier in the foreword. He is not the only one.”
Le Canard Enchaîné

“Provides a fascinating panorama, embodied, unexpected, confused, and illuminating.”
Le Figaro

“Sets the record straight brilliantly, alternating individual portraits and incidents in a microcosm where an atmosphere of mistrust and denunciation prevails.”
La Nouvelle Quinzaine Littéraire



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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Foreword by Bertrand Tavernier

1 Paris, Fall 1940
2 Alfred Greven
3 The Beginnings of a Company
4 First Productions
5 Decoin and Greven
6 Henri-Georges Clouzot, Screenwriter
7 Les Inconnus dans la maison
8 Greven’s Empire
9 Leaving Continental
10 The Russians at Billancourt
11 A Trip to Berlin
12 The Harry Baur Affair
13 Shooting on the French Riviera
14 New Directors
15 The Caprices Affair
16 Richard Pottier
17 Maurice Tourneur
18 La Main du diable
19 Maneuvers in the Unoccupied Zone
20 Documentaries
21 Le Corbeau
22 The Difficult Years
23 La Vie de plaisir
24 Game Over
25 A Professional Purge
26 Greven’s Last Years

Selected Bibliography


Also in the series

French Film History, 1895–1946: cover depicting a woman wearing a wedding gown and veil smiling. The photo is grainy and tinted blue. Behind her, a man's face takes up the entirety of the background, but it is so large and blurry that it is easy to miss. The title text is stacked in the center of the page.

French Film History, 1895—1946
Richard Neupert

Making Hollywood Happen: cover showing two reams of film upon a purple background. The titles and author text is written in sans sarif white font.

Making Hollywood Happen
The Story of Film Finances
Charles Drazin

Continental Films: Cover depicting illustrations of two men, one with a wide brimmed hat holding a finger to his mouth, the other looking off to the left with a cigarette in his mouth. The background is red with navy around the border and behind the white title text at the top of the page.

Larger images

November 2022
LC: 2021060226 PN
264 pp. 6 x 9
31 b/w illus.

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Casebound $39.95 A
ISBN 9780299339807
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