Budd & Leni

Longreads

Bruce Handy | Tin House | March 2013 | 26 minutes (6,452 words)

They were fleeting and unlikely collaborators, for lack of a better word. He was a son of Jewish Hollywood royalty, she a Nazi fellow traveler and propagandist, though they had a few things in common, too: both were talented filmmakers, both produced enduring work, and both would spend the second halves of their lives explaining or denying past moral compromises. Which isn’t to say the debits on their ledgers were equal—far from it.

Both are now household names, at least in households littered with DVDs from the Criterion Collection. But largely forgotten is the 1945 film he helped assemble with her grudging assistance as an involuntary consultant. It remains a key document of the twentieth century and helped send ten war criminals to the gallows, some of them her former friends and/or colleagues. If she felt badly about…

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