In this daring reexamination of the connections between national politics and Hollywood movies, Lary May offers a fresh interpretation of American culture from the New Deal through the Cold War—one in which a populist, egalitarian ethos found itself eventually supplanted by a far different view of the nation.
"One of the best books ever written about the movies." —Tom Ryan, The Age
"The most exhilarating work of revisionist film history since Pauline Kael's Citizen Kane. . . . May's take on what movies once were (energizing, as opposed to enervating), and hence can become again, is enough to get you believing in them again as one of the regenerative forces America so sorely needs."—Jay Carr, Boston Globe
"A startling, revisionist history of Hollywood's impact on politics and American culture. . . . A convincing and important addition to American cultural criticism."—Publishers Weekly
"A controversial overview of 30 years of American film history; must reading for any serious student of the subject."—Choice
"A provocative social history of Hollywood's influence in American life from the 1930s to the 1950s. May argues persuasively that movies in the period offered a good deal of tough criticism of economic and social conditions in U.S. society. . . . May challenges us to engage in some serious rethinking about Hollywood's impact on American society in the middle of the twentieth century."—Robert Brent Toplin, American Historical Review
Black Directors in Hollywood
By Melvin Donalson University of Texas Press, 2003 Library of Congress PN1995.9.N4D66 2003 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092273
Hollywood film directors are some of the world’s most powerful storytellers, shaping the fantasies and aspirations of people around the globe. Since the 1960s, African Americans have increasingly joined their ranks, bringing fresh insights to movie characterizations, plots, and themes and depicting areas of African American culture that were previously absent from mainstream films. Today, black directors are making films in all popular genres, while inventing new ones to speak directly from and to the black experience. This book offers a first comprehensive look at the work of black directors in Hollywood, from pioneers such as Gordon Parks, Melvin Van Peebles, and Ossie Davis to current talents including Spike Lee, John Singleton, Kasi Lemmons, and Carl Franklin. Discussing 67 individuals and over 135 films, Melvin Donalson thoroughly explores how black directors’ storytelling skills and film techniques have widened both the thematic focus and visual style of American cinema. Assessing the meanings and messages in their films, he convincingly demonstrates that black directors are balancing Hollywood’s demand for box office success with artistic achievement and responsibility to ethnic, cultural, and gender issues.
The southern frontier is one of the most emotionally charged zones in the United States, second only to its historical predecessor and partner, the western frontier. Though they span many genres, border films share common themes, trace the mood swings of public policy, and shape our cultural agenda. In this examination, Camilla Fojas studies how major Hollywood films exploit the border between Mexico and the United States to tell a story about U.S. dominance in the American hemisphere. She charts the shift from the mythos of the open western frontier to that of the embattled southern frontier by offering in-depth analyses of particular border films, from post–World War II Westerns to drug-trafficking films to contemporary Latino/a cinema, within their historical and political contexts. Fojas argues that Hollywood border films do important social work by offering a cinematic space through which viewers can manage traumatic and undesirable histories and ultimately reaffirm core “American” values. At the same time, these border narratives delineate opposing values and ideas. Latino border films offer a critical vantage onto these topics; they challenge the presumptions of U.S. nationalism and subsequent cultural attitudes about immigrants and immigration, and often critically reconstruct their Hollywood kin. By analyzing films such as Duel in the Sun, The Wild Bunch, El Norte, The Border, Traffic, and Brokeback Mountain, Fojas demands that we reexamine the powerful mythology of the Hollywood borderlands. This detailed scrutiny recognizes that these films are part of a national narrative comprised of many texts and symbols that create the myth of the United States as capital of the Americas.
What’s your impression of the CIA? A bumbling agency that can’t protect its own spies? A rogue organization prone to covert operations and assassinations? Or a dedicated public service that advances the interests of the United States? Astute TV and movie viewers may have noticed that the CIA’s image in popular media has spanned this entire range, with a decided shift to more positive portrayals in recent years. But what very few people know is that the Central Intelligence Agency has been actively engaged in shaping the content of film and television, especially since it established an entertainment industry liaison program in the mid-1990s.
The CIA in Hollywood offers the first full-scale investigation of the relationship between the Agency and the film and television industries. Tricia Jenkins draws on numerous interviews with the CIA’s public affairs staff, operations officers, and historians, as well as with Hollywood technical consultants, producers, and screenwriters who have worked with the Agency, to uncover the nature of the CIA’s role in Hollywood. In particular, she delves into the Agency’s and its officers’ involvement in the production of The Agency, In the Company of Spies, Alias, The Recruit, The Sum of All Fears, Enemy of the State, Syriana, The Good Shepherd, and more. Her research reveals the significant influence that the CIA now wields in Hollywood and raises important and troubling questions about the ethics and legality of a government agency using popular media to manipulate its public image.
As World War II wound down in 1945 and the cold war heated up, the skilled trades that made up the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU) began a tumultuous strike at the major Hollywood studios. This turmoil escalated further when the studios retaliated by locking out CSU in 1946. This labor unrest unleashed a fury of Red-baiting that allowed studio moguls to crush the union and seize control of the production process, with far-reaching consequences.
This engrossing book probes the motives and actions of all the players to reveal the full story of the CSU strike and the resulting lockout of 1946. Gerald Horne draws extensively on primary materials and oral histories to document how limited a "threat" the Communist party actually posed in Hollywood, even as studio moguls successfully used the Red scare to undermine union clout, prevent film stars from supporting labor, and prove the moguls' own patriotism.
Horne also discloses that, unnoticed amid the turmoil, organized crime entrenched itself in management and labor, gaining considerable control over both the "product" and the profits of Hollywood. This research demonstrates that the CSU strike and lockout were a pivotal moment in Hollywood history, with consequences for everything from production values, to the kinds of stories told in films, to permanent shifts in the centers of power.
Has European cinema, in the age of globalization, lost contact not only with the world at large, but with its own audiences? Between the thriving festival circuit and the obligatory late-night television slot, is there still a public or a public sphere for European films? Can the cinema be the appropriate medium for a multicultural Europe and its migrating multitudes? Is there a division of representational labor, with Hollywood providing stars and spectacle, the Asian countries exotic color and choreographed action, and Europe a sense of history, place and memory?
This collection of essays by an acclaimed film scholar examines how independent filmmaking in Europe has been reinventing itself since the 1990s, faced by renewed competition from Hollywood and the challenges posed to national cinemas by the fall of the Wall in 1989. Elsaesser reassesses the debates and presents a broader framework for understanding the forces at work since the 1960s. These include the interface of "world cinema" and the rise of Asian cinemas, the importance of the international film festival circuit, the role of television, and the changing aesthetics of auteur cinema. New audiences have different allegiances, and new technologies enable networks to reshape identities, but European cinema still has an important function in setting critical and creative agendas, even as its economic and institutional bases are in transition.
This volume is about power. It is about the power to make war and to destroy lives. It is also about another kind of power-the power to make images that may distort, displace, and destroy knowledge of the times in which those lives were lived. Many of the nineteen essays gathered in this volume are about the interrelationships between these two types of power. They demonstrate, as well, yet another type of power, the power of critical thinking to challenge dangerous myths and to confront prevailing ideologies.
The title of this anthology calls attention to the process whereby aspects of the Vietnam War have been appropriated by the American cultural industry. Probing the large body of emotion-laden, controversial films, From Hanoi to Hollywood is concerned with the retelling of history and the retrospection that such a process involves. In this anthology, an awareness of film as a cultural artifact that molds beliefs and guides action is emphasized, an awareness that the contributors bring to a variety of films. Their essays span over one hundred documentary and fiction films, and include in-depth analyses of major commercial films, ranging from Apocalypse Now to Platoon, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Full Metal Jacket, and documentaries from In the Year of the Pig to Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.
The essays fin this volume deal with representations of the Vietnam war in documentary film and television reporting, examining the ways the power of film is used to deliver political messages. There are surprises here, new readings, and important insights on the ways we as a society have attempted to come to terms with the experiences of the Vietnam era. The book also contains two appendixes-a detailed chronology charting the relationship between major historical events and the release of American war films from 1954 through 1988, and a filmography listing information on over four hundred American and foreign films about the Vietnam War.
It takes no great powers of observation to see that Hollywood has long been far to the left of the general American public. Even in stories that have no overt political content, the social and moral assumptions in films rated from GP to R are often at odds with the deeply held values of most of the viewing audience. But that’s not the whole story, argues the literary and cultural critic Mark Royden Winchell in God, Man, and Hollywood. A surprising number of films articulate culturally unfashionable attitudes—and it is from these movies that we learn the most about our society and ourselves.
Beginning with D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and ending with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Winchell reveals the politically incorrect notions at the heart of eighteen classic films, including Ben-Hur, Intruder in the Dust, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Patton, The Deer Hunter, A Clockwork Orange, Gangs of New York, and Gettsyburg. Along the way, he shows how a number of filmmakers, sometimes unwittingly, have produced unconventionally honest explorations of the nature and meaning of race relations, love, family, community, worship, and other aspects of our shared human experience. Winchell ends with synoptic assessments of an additional one hundred politically incorrect films, from About Schmidt to Zulu. The result is an indispensable film guide showing that sometimes even Hollywood has done better than we typically give it credit for.
Ernst Lubitsch, the German filmmaker who left Berlin for Hollywood in the 1920s, is best remembered today for the famous "Lubitsch touch" in such masterpieces as Ninotchka, which featured Greta Garbo's first-ever screen smile, and Heaven Can Wait. Kristin Thompson's study analyzes Lubitsch's earlier silent films of 1918 to 1927 in order to trace the mutual influences between the classical Hollywood film style as it had evolved in the 1910s and the German film industry of the same period, which had emerged from World War I second in strength only to Hollywood.
During World War I, American firms supplied theaters around the world as French and Italian films had become scarce. Ironically, the war strengthened German filmmaking due to a ban on imports that lasted until 1921. During that period of isolation, Lubitsch became the finest proponent of German filmmaking and once Hollywood films appeared in Germany again Lubitsch was quick to absorb their stylistic traits as well. He soon became the unique master of both styles as the golden ages of the American and German cinema were beginning. This innovative study utilizes Lubitsch's silent films as a means to compare two great national cinemas at a vital formative period in cinema history.
Steven Spielberg once said, "I like ideas, especially movie ideas, that you can hold in your hand. If a person can tell me the idea in twenty-five words or less, it's going to make a pretty good movie." Spielberg's comment embodies the essence of the high concept film, which can be condensed into one simple sentence that inspires marketing campaigns, lures audiences, and separates success from failure at the box office.
This pioneering study explores the development and dominance of the high concept movie within commercial Hollywood filmmaking since the late 1970s. Justin Wyatt describes how box office success, always important in Hollywood, became paramount in the era in which major film studios passed into the hands of media conglomerates concerned more with the economics of filmmaking than aesthetics. In particular, he shows how high concept films became fully integrated with their marketing, so that a single phrase ("Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...") could sell the movie to studio executives and provide copy for massive advertising campaigns; a single image or a theme song could instantly remind potential audience members of the movie, and tie-in merchandise could generate millions of dollars in additional income.
Hollywood & God
Robert Polito University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3566.O474H65 2009 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Hollywood & God is a virtuosic performance, filled with crossings back and forth from cinematic chiaroscuro to a kind of unsettling desperation and disturbing—even lurid—hallucination. From the Baltimore Catechism to the great noir films of the last century to today’s Elvis impersonators and Paris Hilton (an impersonator of a different sort), Robert Polito tracks the snares, abrasions, and hijinks of personal identities in our society of the spectacle, a place where who we say we are, and who (we think) we think we are fade in and out of consciousness, like flickers of light dancing tantalizingly on the silver screen. Mixing lyric and essay, collage and narrative, memoir and invention, Hollywood & God is an audacious book, as contemporary as it is historical, as sly and witty as it is devastatingly serious.
"Michele Hilmes has produced
an excellent introduction to a most important subject. This is an invaluable
work for both scholars and students that places film, radio, and television
within the context of the national culture experience."
--- American Historical Review
"Hilmes is one of the few historians
of broadcasting to move beyond a political economy of the media. . . . Her work
should serve as a model for future histories of broadcasting."
--- Journal of Communication
"All media historians will
find this work a critical addition to their bookshelves."
--- American Journalism
"A major addition to media
--- Journalism History
Conjuring up all the glamour of the event, Jungen recounts the history of the Cannes Film Festival from an American perspective surveying the complex interplay of talent, money and corporate clout. He traces the growing influence of the Hollywood studios on the festival's rise to the key film event. Case studies of film (including The Birds, Easy Rider, and The Da Vinci Code) and of the creation of stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, profit from the author's experience of visiting the Cannes Film Festival over more than twelve years.
From the turn of the twentieth century through the late 1950s, Havana was a locus for American movie stars, with glamorous visitors including Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Marlon Brando. In fact, Hollywood was seemingly everywhere in pre-Castro Havana, with movie theaters three to a block in places, widely circulated silver screen fanzines, and terms like “cowboy” and “gangster” entering Cuban vernacular speech. Hollywood in Havana uses this historical backdrop as the catalyst for a startling question: Did exposure to half a century of Hollywood pave the way for the Cuban Revolution of 1959?
Megan Feeney argues that the freedom fighting extolled in American World War II dramas and the rebellious values and behaviors seen in postwar film noir helped condition Cuban audiences to expect and even demand purer forms of Cuban democracy and national sovereignty. At the same time, influential Cuban intellectuals worked to translate Hollywood ethics into revolutionary rhetoric—which, ironically, led to pointed critiques and subversions of the US presence in Cuba. Hollywood in Havana not only expands our notions of how American cinema was internalized around the world—it also broadens our view of the ongoing history of US-Cuban interactions, both cultural and political.
One of the country’s most picturesque cities and conveniently located just a few hours’ drive from Hollywood, San Francisco became the most frequently and extensively filmed American city beyond the production hubs of Los Angeles and New York in the three decades after World War II. During those years, the cinematic image of the city morphed from the dreamy beauty of Vertigo to the nightmarish wasteland of Dirty Harry, although San Francisco itself experienced no such decline. This intriguing disconnect gives impetus to Hollywood in San Francisco, the most comprehensive study to date of Hollywood’s move from studio to location production in the postwar era.
In this thirty-year history of feature filmmaking in San Francisco, Joshua Gleich tracks a sea change in Hollywood production practices, as location shooting overtook studio-based filming as the dominant production method by the early 1970s. He shows how this transformation intersected with a precipitous decline in public perceptions of the American city, to which filmmakers responded by developing a stark, realist aesthetic that suited America’s growing urban pessimism and superseded a fidelity to local realities. Analyzing major films set in San Francisco, ranging from Dark Passage and Vertigo to The Conversation, The Towering Inferno, and Bullitt, as well as the TV show The Streets of San Francisco, Gleich demonstrates that the city is a physical environment used to stage urban fantasies that reveal far more about Hollywood filmmaking and American culture than they do about San Francisco.
Location shooting has always been a vital counterpart to soundstage production, and at times, the primary form of Hollywood filmmaking. But until now, the industrial and artistic development of this production practice has been scattered across the margins of larger American film histories. Hollywood on Location is the first comprehensive history of location shooting in the American film industry, showing how this mode of filmmaking changed Hollywood business practices, production strategies, and visual style from the silent era to the present. The contributors explore how location filmmaking supplemented and later, supplanted production on the studio lots. Drawing on archival research and in-depth case studies, the seven contributors show how location shooting expanded the geography of American film production, from city streets and rural landscapes to far-flung territories overseas, invoking a new set of creative, financial, technical, and logistical challenges. Whereas studio filmmaking sought to recreate nature, location shooting sought to master it, finding new production values and production economies that reshaped Hollywood’s modus operandi.
Thomas Edison invented his motion picture system in New Jersey in the 1890s, and within a few years most American filmmakers could be found within a mile or two of the Hudson River. They planted themselves here because they needed the artistic and entrepreneurial energy that D. W. Griffith realized New York had in abundance. But as the going rate for land and labor skyrocketed and their business grew more industrialized, most of them moved out. The way most historians explain it, the role of New York in the development of American film ends here.
In Hollywood on the Hudson, Richard Koszarski rewrites an important part of the history of American cinema. During the 1920s and 1930s, film industry executives had centralized the mass production of feature pictures in a series of gigantic film factories scattered across Southern California, while maintaining New York as the economic and administrative center. But as Koszarski reveals, many writers, producers, and directors also continued to work here, especially if their independent vision was too big for the Hollywood production line.
East Coast filmmakers-Oscar Micheaux, Rudolph Valentino, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Paul Robeson, Gloria Swanson, Max Fleischer, and others-quietly created a studio system without back-lots, long-term contracts or seasonal production slates. They substituted "newsreel photography" for Hollywood glamour, targeted niche audiences instead of middle-American families, ignored accepted dramatic conventions, and pushed the boundaries of motion picture censorship. Rebellious and unconventional, they saw the New York studios as laboratories, not factories-and used them to pioneer the development of new technologies (from talkies to television), new genres, new talent, and ultimately, an entirely new vision of commercial cinema.
During the 1990s, films such as sex, lies, and videotape, The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love earned substantial sums at the box office along with extensive critical acclaim. A disproportionate number of these hits came from one company: Miramax. Indie, Inc. surveys Miramax’s evolution from independent producer-distributor to studio subsidiary, chronicling how one company transformed not just the independent film world but the film and media industries more broadly. As Alisa Perren illustrates, Miramax’s activities had an impact on everything from film festival practices to marketing strategies, talent development to awards campaigning.
Case studies of key films, including The Piano, Kids, Scream, The English Patient, and Life Is Beautiful, reveal how Miramax went beyond influencing Hollywood business practices and motion picture aesthetics to shaping popular and critical discourses about cinema during the 1990s. Indie, Inc. does what other books about contemporary low-budget cinema have not—it transcends discussions of “American indies” to look at the range of Miramax-released genre films, foreign-language films, and English-language imports released over the course of the decade. The book illustrates that what both the press and scholars have typically represented as the “rise of the American independent” was in fact part of a larger reconfiguration of the media industries toward niche-oriented products.
The recent history of cultural exchange between France and the United States would appear to be defined by “freedom fries” and boycotts against Beaujolais—or, on the other side of the Atlantic, by enraged farmers toppling statues of Ronald McDonald. But this dismal state of affairs is a long way from the mutual admiration that followed World War II, epitomized in a 1958 cover of Look magazine that declared “Brigitte Bardot conquers America.” It’s So French! explores the close affinity between the French and American film industries that flourished in the postwar years, breaking down myths of American imperialism and French cultural protectionism while illuminating the vital role that cinema has played in the globalization of culture.
Hollywood was once enamored with everything French and this infatuation blossomed in a wildly popular series of films including An American in Paris, Gigi,and Funny Face. Schwartz here examines the visual appeal of such films, and then broadens her analysis to explore their production and distribution, probing the profitable influences that Hollywood and Paris exerted on each other. This exchange moved beyond individual films with the sensational spectacle of the Cannes Film Festival and the meteoric career of Brigitte Bardot. And in turn, their success led to a new kind of film that celebrated internationalism and cultural hybridity. Ultimately, Schwartz uncovers an intriguing paradox: that the road to globalization was paved with nationalist clichés, and thus, films beloved for being so French were in fact the first signs of a nascent cosmopolitan culture.
Packed with an array of colorful film stills, publicity photographs, paparazzi shots, ads, and never before seen archival images, It’s So French! is an incisive account of the fertile collaboration between France and the United States that expanded the geographic horizons of both filmmaking and filmgoing, forever changing what the world saw and dreamed of when they went to the movies.
From ads for Victoria's Secret to the character roles of Rosie Perez, the mass media have been defining race and femininity. In this diverse set of essays, Angharad N. Valdivia breaks theoretical and methodological boundaries by exploring the relationship of the media to various audiences. Throughout A Latina in the Land of Hollywood we are challenged to think differently about the media messages we often unconsciously consume, such as the popular representations of certain Latina cultural icons. Valdivia shows how reporters focus on Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchú's big smile, Brazilian media magnate Xuxa's blonde hair, and Puerto Rican actress Rosie Perez's high-pitched voice, never quite creating a comprehensive portrayal of these women. In her discussion of lingerie catalogs, Valdivia uncovers a similarly skewed depiction. The lush, high-class bedrooms of Victoria's Secret differ as much from the earthy, spare world of Frederick's of Hollywood as the types, sizes, and uses of the lingerie that the two companies sell. Valdivia takes a look at family films, arguing that single mothers are almost always portrayed as either trampy floozies or sexless, hapless women, whereas single dads fare much better. Whether examining one teenager's likes and dislikes or considering single parenthood in family films, Valdivia investigates how popular culture has become the arena in which we struggle to know ourselves and to make ourselves known. She calls for scholars to move beyond investigating implicit themes in films and media to studying the ways that audiences of different colors, ages, genders, and sexual preferences might understand or misunderstand such cultural messages. A Latina in the Land of Hollywood aims to explode traditional discussions of media and popular culture. It is a must-read for anyone interested in popular culture, television, and film.
American presidents and Hollywood have interacted since the 1920s. This relationship has made our entertainment more political and our political leadership more aligned with the world of movies and movie stars.
In The Leading Man, Burton W. Peretti explores the development of the cinematic presidential image. He sets the scene in chapter 1 to show us how the chief executive, beginning with George Washington, was positioned to assume the mantle of cultural leading man. As an early star figure in the young republic, the president served as a symbol of national survival and wish fulfillment. The president, as head of government and head of state, had the potential to portray a powerful and charismatic role.
At the center of the story are the fourteen presidents of the cinematic era, from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama. Since the 1920s, the president, like the lead actor in a movie, has been given the central place on the political stage under the intense glare of the spotlight. Like other American men, future presidents were taught by lead movie actors how to look and behave, what to say, and how to say it. Some, like John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, took particular care to learn from the grooming, gestures, movements, and vocal inflections of film actors and applied these lessons to their political careers. Ronald Reagan was a professional actor. Bill Clinton, a child of the post–World War II Baby Boom, may have been the biggest movie fan of all presidents. Others, including Lyndon Johnson, showed little interest in movies and their lessons for politicians.
Presidents and other politicians have been criticized for cheapening their offices by hiring image and advertising consultants and staging their public events. Peretti analyzes the evolution and the significance of this interaction to trace the convoluted history of the presidential cinematic image. He demonstrates how movies have been the main force in promoting appearance and drama over the substance of governing, and how Americans’ lives today may be dominated by entertainment at the expense of their engagement as citizens.
In the 1930s as the capitalist system faltered, many in the United States turned to the political Left. Hollywood, so deeply embedded in capitalism, was not immune to this shift. Left of Hollywood offers the first book-length study of Depression-era Left film theory and criticism in the United States. Robé studies the development of this theory and criticism over the course of the 1930s, as artists and intellectuals formed alliances in order to establish an engaged political film movement that aspired toward a popular cinema of social change. Combining extensive archival research with careful close analysis of films, Robé explores the origins of this radical social formation of U.S. Left film culture. Grounding his arguments in the surrounding contexts and aesthetics of a few films in particular—Sergei Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico!, Fritz Lang’s Fury, William Dieterle’s Juarez, and Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise—Robé focuses on how film theorists and critics sought to foster audiences who might push both film culture and larger social practices in more progressive directions. Turning at one point to anti-lynching films, Robé discusses how these movies united black and white film critics, forging an alliance of writers who championed not only critical spectatorship but also the public support of racial equality. Yet, despite a stated interest in forging more egalitarian social relations, gender bias was endemic in Left criticism of the era, and female-centered films were regularly discounted. Thus Robé provides an in-depth examination of this overlooked shortcoming of U.S. Left film criticism and theory.
A struggle between narcissistic and masochistic modes of manhood defined Hollywood masculinity in the period between the presidencies of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. David Greven’s contention is that a profound shift in representation occurred during the early 1990s when Hollywood was transformed by an explosion of films that foregrounded non-normative gendered identity and sexualities. In the years that have followed, popular cinema has either emulated or evaded the representational strategies of this era, especially in terms of gender and sexuality. One major focus of this study is that, in a great deal of the criticism in both the fields of film theory and queer theory, masochism has been positively cast as a form of male sexuality that resists the structures of normative power, while narcissism has been negatively cast as either a regressive sexuality or the bastion of white male privilege. Greven argues that narcissism is a potentially radical mode of male sexuality that can defy normative codes and categories of gender, whereas masochism, far from being radical, has emerged as the default mode of a traditional normative masculinity. This study combines approaches from a variety of disciplines—psychoanalysis, queer theory, American studies, men’s studies, and film theory—as it offers fresh readings of several important films of the past twenty years, including Casualties of War, The Silence of the Lambs, Fight Club, The Passion of the Christ, Auto Focus, and Brokeback Mountain.
In Manufacturing Celebrity Vanessa Díaz traces the complex power dynamics of the reporting and paparazzi work that fuel contemporary Hollywood and American celebrity culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, her experience reporting for People magazine, and dozens of interviews with photographers, journalists, publicists, magazine editors, and celebrities, Díaz examines the racialized and gendered labor involved in manufacturing and selling relatable celebrity personas. Celebrity reporters, most of whom are white women, are expected to leverage their sexuality to generate coverage, which makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and assault. Meanwhile, the predominantly male Latino paparazzi can face life-threatening situations and endure vilification that echoes anti-immigrant rhetoric. In pointing out the precarity of those who hustle to make a living by generating the bulk of celebrity media, Díaz highlights the profound inequities of the systems that provide consumers with 24/7 coverage of their favorite stars.
In The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, Kin-Yan Szeto critically examines three of the most internationally famous martial arts film artists to arise out of the Chinese diaspora and travel far from their homelands to find commercial success in the world at large: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan. Positing the idea that these filmmakers' success is evidence of a "cosmopolitical awareness" arising from their cross-cultural ideological engagements and geopolitical displacements, Szeto demonstrates how this unique perspective allows these three filmmakers to develop and act in the transnational environment of media production, distribution, and consumption.
Beginning with a historical retrospective on Chinese martial arts films as a diasporic film genre and the transnational styles and ideologies of the filmmakers themselves, Szeto uses case studies to explore in depth how the forces of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Western imperialism shaped the identities and work of Lee, Woo, and Chan. Addressed in the volume is the groundbreaking martial arts swordplay film that achieves global success-Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- and its revelations about Hollywood representations of Asians, as well as concepts of male and female masculinity in the swordplay film tradition. Also investigated is the invigoration of contemporary gangster, thriller, and war films by John Woo, whose combination of artistic and historical contexts has contributed to his global success.
Szeto then dissects Chan's mimetic representation of masculinity in his films, and the influences of his Chinese theater and martial arts training on his work. Szeto outlines the similarities and differences between the three artists' films, especially their treatments of gender, sexuality, and power. She concludes by analyzing their films as metaphors for their working conditions in the Chinese diaspora and Hollywood, and demonstrating how through their works, Lee, Woo, and Chan communicate not only with the rest of the world but also with each other.
Far from a book simply about three filmmakers, The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora investigates the transnational nature of films, the geopolitics of culture and race, and the depths of masculinity and power in movies. Szeto's interdisciplinary approach calls for nothing less than a paradigm shift in the study of Chinese diasporic filmmakers and the embodiment of cosmopolitical perspectives in the martial arts genre.
For more than eighty years, the famous unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, the legendary bisexual film director, has generated debate and controversy. Now, best-selling author Charles Higham has solved the crime. Higham uncovers the corruption and intrigue of Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties—and the film industry moguls’ complete domination of the city’s authorities.
When it was discovered that a famous star of the day had probably killed Taylor, a massive cover-up began—from the removal of crucial evidence to the naming of innocent people as killers—which has continued until now to protect the truth. Murder in Hollywood goes beyond the killing to unearth unknown details about the life of Taylor before his arrival in Hollywood, as well as the stories and histories buried by the crooked authorities and criminals involved the case. The author’s exclusive interviews with the culpable star, his unique possession of long-vanished police records, and the support of the present-day Los Angeles county coroner—who examined the evidence as if the murder had taken place now—have ensured a hair-raising thriller.
Charles Higham successfully presents the most plausible and convincing solution yet to the mystery. In the process he paints a vivid portrait of Hollywood in the 1920s—from its major stars to its bisexual subculture. The result is a compelling answer to a long-standing mystery and a fascinating study of a place, and an industry that, as today, let people reinvent themselves. Murder in Hollywood is more extraordinary than any crime of fiction and more exciting than any action adventure movie.
This is the first study of Hollywood by an anthropologist. Jorja Prover examines how different groups of individuals, separated from one another superficially by ethnicity, race, and sex, function as writers in Hollywood. She describes the white “majority” Hollywood writers and explores their concerns and creative processes, and then discusses other writers who, until recently, have been virtually invisible in the entertainment industry—women, the physically challenged, gays, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. In detailing their efforts at gaining professional acceptance, these writers introduce new, previously unmentioned issues involving access, advancement, talent, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
When the San Diego Comic-Con was founded in 1970, it provided an exclusive space where fans, dealers, collectors, and industry professionals could come together to celebrate their love of comics and popular culture. In the decades since, Comic-Con has grown in size and scope, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans each summer and increased attention from the media industries, especially Hollywood, which uses the convention’s exclusivity to spread promotional hype far and wide. What made the San Diego Comic-Con a Hollywood destination? How does the industry’s presence at Comic-Con shape our ideas about what it means to be a fan? And what can this single event tell us about the relationship between media industries and their fans, past and present? Only at Comic-Con answers these questions and more as it examines the connection between exclusivity and the proliferation of media industry promotion at the longest-running comic convention in North America.
Filmmaker David Lynch asserts that when he is directing, ninety percent of the time he doesn't know what he is doing. To understand Lynch's films, Martha Nochimson believes, requires a similar method of being open to the subconscious, of resisting the logical reductiveness of language. In this innovative book, she draws on these strategies to offer close readings of Lynch's films, informed by unprecedented, in-depth interviews with Lynch himself. Nochimson begins with a look at Lynch's visual influences—Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, and Edward Hopper—and his links to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, then moves into the heart of her study, in-depth analyses of Lynch's films and television productions. These include Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune, The Elephant Man, Eraserhead, The Grandmother, The Alphabet, and Lynch's most recent, Lost Highway. Nochimson's interpretations explode previous misconceptions of Lynch as a deviant filmmaker and misogynist. Instead, she shows how he subverts traditional Hollywood gender roles to offer an optimistic view that love and human connection are really possible.
Peter Weir has been directing Hollywood films since his successful US debut, Witness, in 1985. But does this make him a Hollywood director? Or should he still be considered an Australian filmmaker as many scholars argue?
For the first time, Weir’s entire three-decade creative journey from Australia to Hollywood is considered in light of the recent theories on transnational cinema and through a close examination of four key films: Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness, and The Truman Show The films’ analyses integrate original interviews with Weir and his closest collaborators, including Russell Boyd. The book concludes that Weir is both an Australian and a Hollywood filmmaker—and would be better seen as a transnational filmmaker whose success in the United States reflects the fact that he was already a “Hollywood” director by the time he relocated.
A frightening new plague. A medical mystery. A pioneering immunologist. In A Plague on All Our Houses, Dr. Bruce J. Hillman dissects the war of egos, money, academic power, and Hollywood clout that advanced AIDS research even as it compromised the career of the scientist who discovered the disease. At the beginning of the worldwide epidemic soon to be known as AIDS, Dr. Michael Gottlieb was a young immunologist new to the faculty of UCLA Medical Center. In 1981 he was brought in to consult on a battery of unusual cases: four formerly healthy gay men presenting with persistent fever, weight loss, and highly unusual infections. Other physicians around the country had noted similar clusters of symptoms, but it was Gottlieb who first realized that these patients had a new and deadly disease. He also identified the defect in their immune system that allowed the disease to flourish. He published his findings in a now-iconic lead article in the New England Journal of Medicine—an impressive achievement for such a young scientist—and quickly became the focal point of a whirlwind of panic, envy, desperation, and distrust that played out against a glittering Hollywood backdrop. Courted by the media, the gay community, and the entertainment industry, Gottlieb emerged as the medical face of the terrifying new epidemic when he became personal physician to Rock Hudson, the first celebrity AIDS patient. With Elizabeth Taylor he cofounded the charitable foundation amfAR, which advanced public awareness of AIDS and raised vast sums for research, even as it struggled against political resistance that began with the Reagan administration and trickled down through sedimentary layers of bureaucracy. Far from supporting him, the UCLA medical establishment reacted with dismay to Gottlieb’s early work on AIDS, believing it would tarnish the reputation of the Medical Center. Denied promotion and tenure in 1987, Gottlieb left UCLA for private practice just as the National Institutes of Health awarded the institution a $10 million grant for work he had pioneered there. In the thirty-five years since the discovery of AIDS, research, prevention, and clinical care have advanced to the point that the disease is no longer the death sentence it once was. Gottlieb’s seminal article is now regarded by the New England Journal of Medicine as one of the most significant publications of its two-hundred-year history. A Plague on All Our Houses offers a ringside seat to one of the most important medical discoveries and controversies of our time.
Academics have generally dismissed Hollywood's cowboy and Indian movies - one of its defining successful genres - as specious, one-dimensional, and crassly commercial. In Shooting Cowboys and Indians, Andrew Brodie Smith challenges this simplistic characterization of the genre, illustrating the complex and sometimes contentious process by which business interests commercialized images of the West.
Tracing the western from its hazy silent-picture origins in the 1890s to the advent of talking pictures in the 1920s, Smith examines the ways in which silent westerns contributed to the overall development of the film industry.
Focusing on such early important production companies as Selig Polyscope, New York Motion Picture, and Essanay, Smith revises current thinking about the birth of Hollywood and the establishment of Los Angeles as the nexus of filmmaking in the United States. Smith also reveals the role silent westerns played in the creation of the white male screen hero that dominated American popular culture in the twentieth century.
Illustrated with dozens of historic photos and movie stills, this engaging and substantive story will appeal to scholars interested in Western history, film history, and film studies as well as general readers hoping to learn more about this little-known chapter in popular filmmaking.
Stardust Monuments spotlights the enduring efforts to memorialize and canonize the history and meaning of Hollywood and American film culture. In this engaging analysis, Alison Trope explores the tensions between art and commerce as they intersect in a range of nonprofit and for-profit institutions and products. An insightful tour of Hollywood’s past, present, and future, Stardust Monuments examines the establishment of film libraries and museums beginning in the mid 1930s, the many failed attempts to open a Hollywood museum ranging from the 1960s to today, and the more successful recent corporate efforts to use Hollywood’s past in theme restaurants and parks, classic movie channels, and DVD boxed sets. This fascinating narrative details the ongoing struggle to champion and codify Hollywood’s legacy, a struggle engaged in by Hollywood stars and corporate executives, as well as memorabilia collectors and users of IMDb.
In the aftermath of total war and unconditional surrender, Germans found themselves receiving instruction from their American occupiers. It was not a conventional education. In their effort to transform German national identity and convert a Nazi past into a democratic future, the Americans deployed what they perceived as the most powerful and convincing weapon-movies.
In a rigorous analysis of the American occupation of postwar Germany and the military’s use of “soft power,” Jennifer Fay considers how Hollywood films, including Ninotchka, Gaslight, and Stagecoach, influenced German culture and cinema. In this cinematic pedagogy, dark fantasies of American democracy and its history were unwittingly played out on-screen. Theaters of Occupation reveals how Germans responded to these education efforts and offers new insights about American exceptionalism and virtual democracy at the dawn of the cold war.
Fay’s innovative approach examines the culture of occupation not only as a phase in U.S.–German relations but as a distinct space with its own discrete cultural practices. As the American occupation of Germany has become a paradigm for more recent military operations, Fay argues that we must question its efficacy as a mechanism of cultural and political change.
Jennifer Fay is associate professor and codirector of film studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University.
The Hollywood careers of Aaron Copland and Hanns Eisler brought the composers and their high art sensibility into direct conflict with the premier producer of America's potent mass culture. Drawn by Hollywood's potential to reach—and edify—the public, Copland and Eisler expertly wove sophisticated musical ideas into Hollywood and, each in their own distinctive way, left an indelible mark on movie history. Sally Bick's dual study of Copland and Eisler pairs interpretations of their writings on film composing with a close examination of their first Hollywood projects: Copland's music for Of Mice and Men and Eisler's score for Hangmen Also Die! Bick illuminates the different ways the composers treated a film score as means of expressing their political ideas on society, capitalism, and the human condition. She also delves into Copland's and Eisler's often conflicted attempts to adapt their music to fit Hollywood's commercial demands, an enterprise that took place even as they wrote hostile critiques of the film industry.
This first in-depth study of Frank Sinatra’s film career explores his iconic status in relation to his many performances in postwar Hollywood cinema. When Frankie Went to Hollywood considers how Sinatra’s musical acts, television appearances, and public commentary impacted his screen performances in Pal Joey, The Tender Trap, Some Came Running, The Man with the Golden Arm, and other hits. A lively discussion of sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, and male vulnerability in postwar American culture illuminates Karen McNally’s investigation into Sinatra’s cinematic roles and public persona. This entertainment luminary, she finds, was central in shaping debates surrounding definitions of American male identity in the 1940s and ’50s.
The most visible cultural institution on earth between the World Wars, the Hollywood movie industry tried to satisfy worldwide audiences of vastly different cultural, religious, and political persuasions. The World According to Hollywood shows how the industry’s self-regulation shaped the content of films to make them salable in as many markets as possible. In the process, Hollywood created an idiosyncratic vision of the world that was glamorous and exotic, but also oddly narrow.
Ruth Vasey shows how the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), by implementing such strategies as the industry’s Production Code, ensured that domestic and foreign distribution took place with a minimum of censorship or consumer resistance. Drawing upon MPPDA archives, studio records, trade papers, and the records of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Vasey reveals the ways the MPPDA influenced the representation of sex, violence, religion, foreign and domestic politics, corporate capitalism, ethnic minorities, and the conduct of professional classes.
Vasey is the first scholar to document fully how the demands of the global market frequently dictated film content and created the movies’ homogenized picture of social and racial characteristics, in both urban America and the world beyond. She uncovers telling evidence of scripts and treatments that were abandoned before or during the course of production because of content that might offend foreign markets. Among the fascinating points she discusses is Hollywood’s frequent use of imaginary countries as story locales, resulting from a deliberate business policy of avoiding realistic depictions of actual countries. She argues that foreign governments perceived movies not just as articles of trade, but as potential commercial and political emissaries of the United States. Just as Hollywood had to persuade its domestic audiences that its products were morally sound, its domination of world markets depended on its ability to create a culturally and politically acceptable product.
Professional writers may earn a tidy living for their work, but they seldom own their writing. Catherine Fisk traces the history of labor relations that defined authorship in film, TV, and advertising in the mid-twentieth century, showing why strikingly different norms of attribution emerged in these overlapping industries.