From cold war hysteria and rampant anticommunist witch hunts to the lure of suburbia, television, and the new consumerism, the 1950s was a decade of sensational commercial possibility coupled with dark nuclear fears and conformist politics. Amid this amalgamation of social, political, and cultural conditions, Hollywood was under siege: from the Justice Department, which pressed for big film companies to divest themselves of their theater holdings; from the middleclass, whose retreat to family entertainment inside the home drastically decreased the filmgoing audience; and from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was attempting to purge the country of dissenting political views. In this difficult context, however, some of the most talented filmmakers of all time, including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, and Billy Wilder produced some of their most remarkable work.
Bringing together original essays by ten respected scholars in the field, American Cinema of the 1950s explores the impact of the cultural environment of this decade on film, and the impact of film on the American cultural milieu. Contributors examine the signature films of the decade, including From Here to Eternity, Sunset Blvd., Singin' in the Rain, Shane, Rear Window, and Rebel Without a Cause, as well as lesser-known but equally compelling films, such as Dial 1119, Mystery Street, Suddenly, Summer Stock, The Last Hunt, and many others.
Provocative, engaging, and accessible to general readers as well as scholars, this volume provides a unique lens through which to view the links between film and the prevailing social and historical events of the decade.
Art for a New Understanding, an exhibition from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that opened in October 2018, seeks to radically expand and reposition the narrative of American art since 1950 by charting a history of the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the United States and Canada, beginning when artists moved from more regionally-based conversations and practices to national and international contemporary art contexts.
This fully illustrated volume includes essays by art historians and historians and reflections by the artists included in the collection. Also included are key contemporary writings—from the 1950s onward—by artists, scholars, and critics, investigating the themes of transculturalism and pan-Indian identity, traditional practices conducted in radically new ways, displacement, forced migration, shadow histories, the role of personal mythologies as a means to reimagine the future, and much more.
As both a survey of the development of Indigenous art from the 1950s to the present and a consideration of Native artists within contemporary art more broadly, Art for a New Understanding expands the definition of American art and sets the tone for future considerations of the subject. It is an essential publication for any institution or individual with an interest in contemporary Native American art, and an invaluable resource in ongoing scholarly considerations of the American contemporary art landscape at large.
From the painting-by-numbers fad to the public fascination with the First Lady's apparel to the television sensation of Elvis Presley to the sculptural refinement of the automobile, Marling explores what Americans saw and what they looked for in the 1950s with a gaze newly trained by TV.
With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates "life on the ground" in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens--natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers--coped with the state's efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism. In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.
Prolific literature, both popular and scholarly, depicts America in the period of the High Cold War as being obsessed with normality, implicitly figuring the postwar period as a return to the way of life that had been put on hold, first by the Great Depression and then by Pearl Harbor.
Demographic Angst argues that mandated normativity—as a political agenda and a social ethic—precluded explicit expression of the anxiety produced by America’s radically reconfigured postwar population. Alan Nadel explores influential non-fiction books, magazine articles, and public documents in conjunction with films such as Singin’ in the Rain, On the Waterfront, Sunset Boulevard, and Sayonara, to examine how these films worked through fresh anxieties that emerged during the 1950s.
Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present tells of a musical phenomenon whose continuing influence on global popular culture is immeasurable.
The story begins in 1950s America, when classic rock ’n’ roll was reaching middle age, and teenaged musicians kept its primal rawness going with rough-hewn instrumentals, practicing guitar riffs in their parents’ garages. In the mid-1960s came the Beatles and the British Invasion, and soon every neighborhood had its own garage band. Groups like the Sonics and 13th Floor Elevators burnt brightly but briefly, only to be rediscovered by a new generation of connoisseurs in the 1970s. Numerous compilation albums followed, spearheaded by Lenny Kaye’s iconic Nuggets, which resulted in garage rock’s rebirth during the 1980s and ’90s.
Be it the White Stripes or the Black Keys, bands have consistently found inspiration in the simplicity and energy of garage rock. It is a revitalizing force, looking back to the past to forge the future of rock ’n’ roll. And this, for the first time, is its story.
Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s—America’s most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen’s place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.
In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson’s chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them.
Outstanding Book, selected by the Public Library Association
Best Books for High Schools, selected by the American Association of School Libraries
The constellation of Hollywood stars burned brightly in the 1950s, even as the industry fell on hard economic times. Major artists of the 1940s--James Stewart, Jerry Lewis, and Gregory Peck--continued to exert a magical appeal but the younger generation of moviegoers was soon enthralled by an emerging cast, led by James Dean and Marlon Brando. They, among others, ushered in a provocative acting style, "the Method," bringing hard-edged, realistic performances to the screen. Adult-oriented small-budget dramas were ideal showcases for Method actors, startlingly realized when Brando seized the screen in On the Waterfront. But, with competition from television looming, Hollywood also featured film-making of epic proportion--Ben-Hur and other cinema wonders rode onto the screen with amazing spectacle, making stars of physically impressive performers such as Charlton Heston.
Larger Than Life offers a comprehensive view of the star system in 1950s Hollywood and also in-depth discussions of the decade's major stars, including Montgomery Clift, Judy Holliday, Jerry Lewis, James Mason, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Jayne Mansfield, and Audrey Hepburn.
"An important contribution to the study of mental illness, gender roles, and family interaction. . . . An insightful and well-written book demonstrating the pervasive consequences of gender roles for the deepest levels of mind and emotion."--American Journal of Sociology
"Opens a window onto the lives of the mentally ill and their families."--Women's Review of Books "Warren's analysis is painstaking and illuminating, and there is plenty of material here to interest those concerned with issues of gender and mental illness."--Times Higher Education Supplement
"The women make the author's major points in riveting fashion, speaking eloquently of enforced dependency and subjugation, the helplessness of rigid and constantly reinforced gender-role boundaries, and outright manipulation by their husbands."--Contemporary Psychology
"Can marriage make women go crazy? Carol Warren addresses this question by emphasizing the connections between gender-sterotypical behavior and the institutionalization of married women in the 1950s, using interviews collected . . . during 1957-61. . . . An interesting sociological reworking of the original pychologically oriented interpretation of the interviews."--Oral History Review
Carol A. B. Warren is a professor of sociology at the University of Kansas and author of The Court of Last Resort: Mental Illness and the Law.
William Darby gives us a comprehensive and (mostly) sympathetic reading of over fifty novels and a few movies from the 1950s. He examines titles such as Mandingo, The Invisible Man, I the Jury, Catcher in the Rye, Battle Cry, The Caine Mutiny, The Revolt of Mamie Stover, The Manchurian Candidate, Hawaii, The Bramble Bush, Peyton Place, Ten North Frederick, A Stone for Danny Fisher, The Bad Seed, Not as a Stranger, The Blackboard Jungle, From Here to Eternity, and Compulsion.
Critical wisdom has it that we said a long goodbye to film noir in the 1950s. Robert Miklitsch begs to differ. Pursuing leads down the back streets and alleyways of cultural history, The Red and the Black proposes that the received rise-and-fall narrative about the genre radically undervalues the formal and thematic complexity of '50s noir and the dynamic segue it effected between the spectacular expressionism of '40s noir and early, modernist neo-noir. Mixing scholarship with a fan's devotion to the crooked roads of critique, Miklitsch autopsies marquee films like D.O.A., Niagara, and Kiss Me Deadly plus a number of lesser-known classics. Throughout, he addresses the social and technological factors that dealt deuce after deuce to the genre--its celebrated style threatened by new media and technologies such as TV and 3-D, color and widescreen, its born losers replaced like zombies by All-American heroes, the nation rocked by the red menace and nightmares of nuclear annihilation. But against all odds, the author argues, inventive filmmakers continued to make formally daring and socially compelling pictures that remain surprisingly, startlingly alive. Cutting-edge and entertaining, The Red and the Black reconsiders a lost period in the history of American movies.
In Roots of the Revival: American and British Folk Music in the 1950s, Ronald D. Cohen and Rachel Clare Donaldson present a transatlantic history of folk's midcentury resurgence that juxtaposes the related but distinct revivals that took place in the United States and Great Britain.
After setting the stage with the work of music collectors in the nineteenth century, the authors explore the so-called recovery of folk music practices and performers by Alan Lomax and others, including journeys to and within the British Isles that allowed artists and folk music advocates to absorb native forms and facilitate the music's transatlantic exchange. Cohen and Donaldson place the musical and cultural connections of the twin revivals within the decade's social and musical milieu and grapple with the performers' leftist political agendas and artistic challenges, including the fierce debates over "authenticity" in practice and repertoire that erupted when artists like Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio carried folk into the popular music mainstream.
From work songs to skiffle, from the Weavers in Greenwich Village to Burl Ives on the BBC, Roots of the Revival offers a frank and wide-ranging consideration of a time, a movement, and a transformative period in American and British pop culture.