A captivating cast of 1980s power and talent--John Candy, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Sally Field, Harrison Ford, Michael J. Fox, Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Lange, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sissy Spacek, Sylvester Stallone, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Bruce Willis, and the "Brat Pack"—stars in the drama of this decade. Acting for America focuses on the way these film icons have engaged in and defined some major issues of cultural and social concern to America during the 1980s.
Scholars employing a variety of useful approaches explore how these movie stars' films speak to an increased audience awareness of advances in feminism, new ideas about masculinity, and the complex political atmosphere in the Age of Reagan. The essays demonstrate the range of these stars' contributions to such conversations in a variety of films, including blockbusters and major genres.
With the U.S. economy booming under President Bill Clinton and the cold war finally over, many Americans experienced peace and prosperity in the nineties. Digital technologies gained popularity, with nearly one billion people online by the end of the decade. The film industry wondered what the effect on cinema would be.
The essays in American Cinema of the 1990s examine the big-budget blockbusters and critically acclaimed independent films that defined the decade. The 1990s' most popular genre, action, channeled anxieties about global threats such as AIDS and foreign terrorist attacks into escapist entertainment movies. Horror films and thrillers were on the rise, but family-friendly pictures and feel-good romances netted big audiences too. Meanwhile, independent films captured hearts, engaged minds, and invaded Hollywood: by decade's end every studio boasted its own "art film" affiliate.
Why do so many African American film characters seem to have magical powers? And why do they use them only to help white people? When the actors are white, why is the sound track so commonly performed by African Americans? And why do so many white actors imitate black people when they wish to express strong emotion?
As Krin Gabbard brilliantly reveals in Black Magic, we duly recognize the cultural heritage of African Americans in literature, music, and art, but there is a disturbing pattern in the roles that blacks are asked to play-particularly in the movies. Many recent films, including The Matrix, Fargo, The Green Mile, Ghost, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Pleasantville, The Bridges of Madison County, and Crumb, reveal a fascination with black music and sexuality even as they preserve the old racial hierarchies. Quite often the dependence on African American culture remains hidden-although it is almost perversely pervasive. In the final chapters of Black Magic, Gabbard looks at films by Robert Altman and Spike Lee that attempt to reverse many of these widespread trends.
Cinema and Modernity
Pomerance, Murray Rutgers University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PN1994.C4885 2006 | Dewey Decimal 791.43
The modern impulse gave us captivating technology and dark anxiety, rampant mobility and a world filled with strangers, the futuristic city and a fragmentation of experience. Motion pictures––the quintessence of modernism––entered into this cultural, technical, and philosophical richness with a vast public appeal and a jarring new vision of what life could be.
In Cinema and Modernity, Murray Pomerance brings together new essays by seventeen leading scholars to explore the complexity of the essential connection between film and modernity. Among the many films considered are Detour, Shock Corridor, The Last Laugh, Experiment in Terror, The Great Dictator, Leave Her to Heaven, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Eyes Wide Shut, Sunrise, The Crowd, The Shape of Things to Come, The War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Scarlet Street, Shadow of a Doubt, Stella Dallas, The Blue Angel, Sullivan’s Travels, and Catch Me If You Can.
With its sharp focus on stardom during the 1920s, Idols of Modernity reveals strong connections and dissonances in matters of storytelling and performance that can be traced both backward and forward, across Europe, Asia, and the United States, from the silent era into the emergence of sound.
Bringing together the best new work oncinemaand stardom in the 1920s, this illustrated collection showcases the range of complex social, institutional, and aesthetic issues at work in American cinema of this time. Attentive to stardom as an ensemble of texts, contexts, and social phenomena stretching beyond the cinema, major scholars provide careful analysis of the careers of both well-known and now forgotten stars of the silent and early sound era—Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton, the Talmadge sisters, Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, Greta Garbo, Anna May Wong, Emil Jannings, Al Jolson, Ernest Morrison, Noble Johnson, Evelyn Preer, Lincoln Perry, and Marie Dressler.
American cinema has long been fascinated by jazz and jazz musicians. Yet most jazz films aren't really about jazz. Rather, as Krin Gabbard shows, they create images of racial and sexual identity, many of which have become inseparable from popular notions of the music itself. In Jammin' at the Margins, Gabbard scrutinizes these films, exploring the fundamental obsessions that American culture has brought to jazz in the cinema.
Gabbard's close look at jazz film biographies, from The Jazz Singer to Bird, reveals Hollywood's reluctance to acknowledge black subjectivity. Black and even white jazz artists have become vehicles for familiar Hollywood conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality. Even Scorsese's New York, New York and Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues have failed to disentangle themselves from entrenched stereotypes and conventions.
Gabbard also examines Hollywood's confrontation with jazz as an elite art form, and the role of the jazz trumpet as a crucial signifier of masculinity. Finally, he considers the acting careers of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Hoagy Carmichael; Duke Ellington's extraordinary work in films from 1929 until the late 1960s; and the forgotten career of Kay Kyser, star of nine Hollywood films and leader of a popular swing band.
This insightful look at the marriage of jazz and film is a major contribution to film, jazz, and cultural studies.
Jazz Among the Discourses
Krin Gabbard Duke University Press, 1995 Library of Congress ML3507.J36 1995 | Dewey Decimal 781.6509
The study of jazz comes of age with this anthology. One of the first books to consider jazz outside of established critical modes, Jazz Among the Discourses brings together scholars from an array of disciplines to question and revise conventional methods of writing and thinking about jazz. Challenging "official jazz histories," the contributors to this volume view jazz through the lenses of comparative literature; African American studies; music, film, and communication theory; English literature; American studies; history; and philosophy. With uncommon rigor and imagination, their essays probe the influence of various discourses—journalism, scholarship, politics, oral history, and entertainment—on writing about jazz. Employing modes of criticism and theory that have transformed study in the humanities, they address questions seldom if ever raised in jazz writing: What are the implications of building jazz history around the medium of the phonograph record? Why did jazz writers first make the claim that jazz is an art? How is an African American aesthetic articulated through the music? What are the consequences of the interaction between the critic and the jazz artist? How does the improvising artist navigate between chaos and discipline? Along with its companion volume, Representing Jazz, this versatile anthology marks the arrival of jazz studies as a mature, intellectually independent discipline. Its rethinking of conventional jazz discourse will further strengthen the position of jazz studies within the academy.
Contributors. John Corbett, Steven B. Elworth, Krin Gabbard, Bernard Gendron, William Howland Kenney, Eric Lott, Nathaniel Mackey, Burton Peretti, Ronald M. Radano, Jed Rasula, Lorenzo Thomas, Robert Walser
Krin Gabbard Duke University Press, 1995 Library of Congress ML3507.R47 1995 | Dewey Decimal 781.65
Traditional jazz studies have tended to see jazz in purely musical terms, as a series of changes in rhythm, tonality, and harmony, or as a parade of great players. But jazz has also entered the cultural mix through its significant impact on novelists, filmmakers, dancers, painters, biographers, and photographers. Representing Jazz explores the "other" history of jazz created by these artists, a history that tells us as much about the meaning of the music as do the many books that narrate the lives of musicians or describe their recordings. Krin Gabbard has gathered essays by distinguished writers from a variety of fields. They provide engaging analyses of films such as Round Midnight, Bird, Mo’ Better Blues, Cabin in the Sky, and Jammin’ the Blues; the writings of Eudora Welty and Dorothy Baker; the careers of the great lindy hoppers of the 1930s and 1940s; Mura Dehn’s extraordinary documentary on jazz dance; the jazz photography of William Claxton; painters of the New York School; the traditions of jazz autobiography; and the art of "vocalese." The contributors to this volume assess the influence of extramusical sources on our knowledge of jazz and suggest that the living contexts of the music must be considered if a more sophisticated jazz scholarship is ever to evolve. Transcending the familiar patterns of jazz history and criticism, Representing Jazz looks at how the music actually has been heard and felt at different levels of American culture. With its companion anthology, Jazz Among the Discourses, this volume will enrich and transform the literature of jazz studies. Its provocative essays will interest both aficionados and potential jazz fans.
Contributors. Karen Backstein, Leland H. Chambers, Robert P. Crease, Krin Gabbard, Frederick Garber, Barry K. Grant, Mona Hadler, Christopher Harlos, Michael Jarrett, Adam Knee, Arthur Knight, James Naremore
Gender roles have been tested, challenged, and redefined everywhere during the past thirty years, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in film. Screening Genders is a lively and engaging introduction to the evolving representations of masculinity, femininity, and places once thought to be "in between."
The book begins with a general introduction that traces the movement of gender theory from the margins of film studies to its center. The ten essays that follow address a range of topics, including screen stars; depictions of gay, straight, queer, and transgender subjects; and the relationship between gender and genre. Widely respected scholars, including Robert T. Eberwein, Lucy Fischer, Chris Holmlund, E. Ann Kaplan, Kathleen Rowe Karlyn, David Lugowski, Patricia Mellencamp, Jerry Mosher, Jacqueline Reich, and Chris Straayer, focus on the radical ideological advances of contemporary cinema, as well as on those groundbreaking films that have shaped our ideas about masculinity and femininity, not only in movies but in American culture at large.
The first comprehensive overview of the history of gender theory in film, this book is an ideal text for courses and will serve as a foundation for further discussion among students and scholars alike.