In 1955 Hurwitz was once again called upon to rescue a troubled film project, this time a U.S. travelogue sponsored by Pan American Airways and produced by Henry Strauss. U.S.A. was Pan Am’s first film intended to lure foreign travelers to the U.S., but the project had become stalled for nearly a year and a half. Under Hurwitz’s direction the finished film incorporated travel information with subtle satire, and introduced the formal technique of moving the camera across drawings and still photographs that would later become associated with the documentary style of Ken Burns. U.S.A. went on to win several international awards and the prestige delighted Strauss and Pan Am, who wanted Hurwitz to direct several films in Japan. But U.S.A. would be the only film Hurwitz would direct for Pan Am: His political leanings and subsequent blacklisting rendered him ineligible for a U.S. passport (although he would go on to write Pan Am’s 1958 short Voici la France).

Leo Hurwitz




30 minutes