We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Cover

The Cultures of American Film

Robert P. Kolker

Publication Date - October 2014

ISBN: 9780199753420

384 pages
Paperback
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $74.99

A contextual history of this enormously popular medium

Description

Since its inception in 1894, American film has developed many genres and created many important directors and stars, while maintaining an intensely loyal audience. How has this incredibly popular medium managed to stay so relevant for more than a century?

The Cultures of American Film's chronological organization provides a historical overview of film, while its analytical approach addresses form and content: how films work and how we respond to them. Placing films in their cultural contexts, it examines and analyzes the ways in which film works on an individual level and within society.

The text provides close analyses of films from the nineteenth century to present day, discusses how and why films are made, and investigates the responses that films require and we desire. Suggestions for further reading and critical analysis appear at the end of each chapter.

Features

  • Weaves together the complex and interconnected relationships among film, its makers, its audience, and the culture of which they are a part
  • Integrates different approaches (chronological, cultural, analytical) to achieve a comprehensive overview of American film
  • Analyzes films within their societal structures, so as to provide a detailed cultural context
  • End-of-chapter suggestions for further reading and further critical analysis push the student to dig more deeply into American film's rich history

About the Author(s)

Robert P. Kolker is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Maryland and teaches in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program at the University of Virginia. He is the author of A Cinema of Loneliness, and editor of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho: A Casebook, Kubrick's 2001: New Essays, and the Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies, all published by Oxford University Press.

Reviews

"Lively, informal, provocative, and unintimidating-in short, student-friendly! The book serves as a fine introduction to American film, with a nice balance of historical and cultural context and extended looks at particular directors and their films."-Gregory Miller, California State University, Bakersfield

"This book addresses what many film texts lack: the role of culture. It offers a historical retelling of film from the perspective of the filmmakers who shaped American life."-Courtney Feldscher, Boston University

"A well-written and compact work that is accessible and that will benefit a broad range of students in a diversity of courses."-Sam Girgus, Vanderbilt University

Table of Contents

    PREFACE


    INTRODUCTION
    Definitions of Culture
    Film Form
    The Form of This Book
    Methodology
    A Word about Directors


    Chapter 1. IN THE BEGINNING (1893-1903)
    - Uncle Josh
    - McKinley
    - The Real Thing
    Origins in Photography
    Edison
    Show and Tell and Show More
    Early Film Form
    Manufacturing Film
    Of Time and Space
    The Great Train Robbery
    Modernity

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 2. THE STUDIOS AND THE STARS (1907-1928)
    The Studios
    - How the Individual Studios Came into Being
    - Universal
    - United Artists
    - Paramount
    - Warner Bros.
    - MGM
    - Fox
    - Columbia
    - RKO
    The Immigrant's Legacy
    The Producer System
    Stars
    - Star and Celebrity
    - Flappers and Vamps
    - The Stories We Tell About Stars

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 3. THE HOLLYWOOD STYLE AND THE PRODUCTION CODE (1903-1922)
    Filmmaking as an Industry
    The Classical Hollywood Style
    - The Shot
    - Editing
    - Shot-reverse Shot
    - Narrative Resolution
    - Genres
    The Code
    - The Thirteen Points

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 4. THE DISTRESSING LEGACY OF D. W. GRIFFITH (1908-1925)
    Beginnings
    - The Trust
    - W. K. L. Dickson
    Griffith at Biograph
    - Pantomime
    - Naturalism
    - Parallel Editing and Screen Space
    - Griffith's Stories and the Critics
    - The Long Film
    The Birth of a Nation
    - Race in the Early 20th Century
    - The Klan
    - Formal Methods
    - The Captivity Narrative
    - The Birth of a Nation and Woodrow Wilson
    - The NAACP
    Oscar Micheaux
    - Within Our Gates
    Griffith after The Birth of a Nation
    - Intolerance
    - Broken Blossoms
    - A Career in Decline

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 5. SILENT COMEDY (1903-1936)
    Origins
    Comedy and Modernity
    The Chase
    - Seven Chances
    Keaton and Chaplin
    Buster Keaton
    - The Three Ages
    - The Play House
    - Sherlock, Jr.
    - Steamboat Bill, Jr.

    Charlie Chaplin
    - Chaplin and Modernity
    - The Tramp
    - A Dog's Life, The Kid, The Gold Rush, A Woman of Paris
    - The Sound Films
    - Modern Times

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 6. BETWEEN THE WORLD WAR I AND THE COMING OF SOUND (1913-1927)
    Politics, the War, Prohibition, and Radio
    The Jazz Age
    - Our Dancing Daughters
    - It
    World War I
    - Wings
    - Hearts of the World
    - The Big Parade
    - 7th Heaven
    DeMille and Melodrama
    - The Cheat and Manslaughter
    - The Ten Commandments
    The Women
    - Alice Guy Blaché and Lois Weber
    - Matrimony's Speed Limit
    - The Blot and Too Wise Women
    Erich von Stroheim
    - Naturalism Revisited
    - Greed
    The European Influence
    - Expressionism
    - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
    - Murnau and Sunrise
    The End of the Silent Era

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 7. THE COMING OF SOUND (1927-1931)
    Early Technologies of Sound
    The Jazz Singer
    - Jewishness and Blackface
    Conversion to Sound
    The Cultures of Sound

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 8. AMERICAN FILM AND THE GREAT DEPRESSION (1931-1935)
    The Great Depression
    - The Depression in Hollywood
    - Heroes for Sale and Wild Boys of the Road
    - American Madness

    The 1930s Musical
    - The Forgotten Man Choreographed
    - Love Me Tonight
    - Astaire-Rogers
    - Busby Berkeley
    - Gold Diggers of 1933

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 9. THE DEPRESSION ERA GANGSTER FILM (1931-1939)
    The Gangster
    -"The Gangster as Tragic Hero"
    - The Gangster and the Code
    The Gangster Films
    - Little Caesar
    - Scarface
    - The Public Enemy

    The Gangster in Eclipse
    - The Roaring Twenties

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 10. COMEDY, CAPRA, AND MONSTERS (1931-1944)
    Screwball Comedy
    - My Man Godfrey
    - Bringing Up Baby
    - The Awful Truth
    - The Philadelphia Story
    - The Marx Brothers, Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch
    Capracorn
    - It Happened One Night
    - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    and Meet John Doe
    Monsters
    - Frankenstein and Dracula

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 11. 1939
    The Code, Filmmaking, and Politics
    - Stagecoach
    - Dark Victory and Melodrama
    - Gone With the Wind
    - The Wizard of Oz

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 12. HOLLYWOOD AND WWII (1942-1949)
    The Reemergence of Hollywood Cinema
    - Acting
    - Lighting
    - Directorial Voices
    The War Film
    - Air Force
    - Back to Bataan
    - Sands of Iwo Jima
    Frank Capra: Why We Fight
    Casablanca

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 13. DIRECTORS OF THE FORTIES: JOHN FORD, ORSON WELLES, ALFRED HITCHCOCK (1941-1946)
    The Auteur
    John Ford and The Grapes of Wrath
    Orson Welles and Citizen Kane
    -Welles after Kane: The Magnificent Ambersons
    - The Stranger
    Alfred Hitchcock
    - Shadow of a Doubt
    - Notorious

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 14. FILM NOIR (1944-1950)
    The Questions of Noir
    Where Did Film Noir Get its Name?
    How did Noir Develop in Hollywood Without Anyone Knowing About It?
    Noir and American Culture
    What is Film Noir?
    - Lighting
    - Themes and Content
    - Gender in Film Noir
    Films Noir
    - Murder, My Sweet
    - The Big Sleep
    - Double Indemnity
    - Woman in the Window
    and Scarlet Street
    - Noir and Melodrama: The Case of Mildred Pierce
    - Orson Welles and The Lady from Shanghai
    - Anthony Mann and T-Men
    Noir and the Production Code

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading



    Chapter 15. HOLLYWOOD AFTER WW II (1946-1960)
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    Hollywood Under Siege
    - The Divestiture
    - Size Matters
    Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Member of the Communist Party?
    - HUAC
    - The Hollywood Ten
    - The Blacklist
    - The End of the Blacklist
    Socially Conscious Cinema
    - Anti-Semitism: Crossfire and Gentleman's Agreement
    - Postwar Film and Race: Pinky and No Way Out
    - Anti-McCarthy, Anti-HUAC Films: Storm Center and Salt of the Earth

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 16. FORD, WELLES, AND HITCHCOCK IN THE 1950S (1948-1960)
    John Ford and the Western
    - Fort Apache
    - The Searchers
    Other Westerns
    - High Noon
    - Johnny Guitar
    and Silver Lode
    -
    The Westerns of Anthony Mann: The Man from Laramie
    Orson Welles and Touch of Evil
    Alfred Hitchcock
    - North by Northwest and The Wrong Man
    - Vertigo
    - Psycho

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 17. SCIENCE FICTION IN THE 1950S (1950-1956)
    Postwar Fears from Outer Space
    - The Thing from Another World
    - The Day the Earth Stood Still
    - Forbidden Planet
    - Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 18. NEW METHODS IN ACTING AND NEW DIRECTIONS IN FILMMAKING (1950-1959)
    Film Acting
    The Actor's Studio
    - Marlon Brando and James Dean
    - Nicholas Ray: In a Lonely Place, Rebel Without a Cause, Bigger Than Life
    - The
    Wild One
    -
    Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe
    Epilogue to the 1950s
    - Sam Fuller
    - The Naked Kiss
    - Pickup on South Street
    A New Wave

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 19. DECLINE AND RENEWAL (1960-1967)
    Epic Decline
    - Paramount
    - Universal
    - Warner Bros.
    - 20th Century Fox
    - Columbia
    Explosion
    The New Wave
    The Auteur Revisited
    The End of the Code and the Beginning of the Ratings System

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 20. WOMEN, MEN, AND SUPERHEROES (1980-2012)
    Visual Pleasure
    - Norma Rae and Silkwood
    By and For Women
    - Desperately Seeking Susan
    The Male as Object of the Gaze
    - Top Gun
    The Monstrous Gaze
    - Fatal Attraction
    Strong Men in the Age of Reagan
    - Raiders of the Lost Ark
    - Rambo
    - Die Hard
    The Superhero and the Digital Domain
    - Batman
    - The Dark Knight
    and The Dark Knight Rises
    - Super

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 21. NEW TECHNOLOGIES (1950-Present)
    Videotape, DVD, and Screen Size
    Sound
    CGI
    The "Reality Effect"

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 22. RISE OF THE MODERN DOCUMENTARY (1920-present)
    The Early Documentary
    - The Man with the Movie Camera, Nanook of the North, The Plow that Broke the Plains
    The Maysles Brothers
    - Cinéma Vérité and Salesman
    - Gimme Shelter
    and Grey Gardens
    Michael Moore and the Political Documentary
    - Fahrenheit 9/11
    The Contemporary War Documentary
    - Restrepo
    - Redacted
    Errol Morris
    - Standard Operating Procedure and The Fog of War

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 23. OUTSIDE HOLLYWOOD: STANLEY KUBRICK (1953-1999)
    Kubrick, Welles, and Hitchcock
    The War Films: Fear and Desire, Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket
    Dr. Strangelove
    and the Cold War
    Humans and Machines: 2001: A Space Odyssey
    - Blade Runner
    - AI: Artificial Intelligence
    A Joke on the Viewer: A Clockwork Orange
    Ghost Story
    Dream Story

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 24. THE NEW HOLLYWOOD AND AFTER (1967-2006) Part One
    The Collapse of the Code and the Studio System and the Rise of the Counterculture
    Arthur Penn and the Counterculture
    - Bonnie & Clyde
    - Alice's Restaurant
    and Little Big Man
    - Four Friends
    - Night Moves
    AIP and Easy Rider
    Robert Altman
    - MASH
    -
    Altman after MASH
    - McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Wild Bunch,
    and More About Film Violence
    - Nashville and Secret Honor
    - Short Cuts
    - Magnolia

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 25. THE NEW HOLLYWOOD AND AFTER (1972-2011) Part Two
    Francis Ford Coppola
    - The Godfather
    - The Conversation
    -
    Coppola and the Vietnam War Film
    - Apocalypse Now
    Steven Spielberg
    - Jaws
    - Close Encounters of the
    Third Kind
    - E.T.
    and War of the Worlds
    - Schindler's List
    - Munich
    Martin Scorsese
    - Who's That Knocking at My Door
    - Mean Streets
    - Taxi Driver
    - Raging Bull
    - Goodfellas
    - The Documentaries
    Michael Cimino, the End of United Artists, the End of the Auteur
    - The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    Chapter 26. AMERICAN FILM IN THE 1990S AND 2000S
    Multiple Screens
    Independent Cinema
    Postmodern Filmmaking: Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone
    - Pulp Fiction
    - Natural Born Killers
    - JFK
    Judd Apatow
    - Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
    David Fincher
    - Fight Club
    A Study in Contrasts
    - Dinner for Schmucks
    -
    The Notebook
    - The Bourne Identity
    - Syriana
    In Praise of Diversity
    Blaxploitation
    - Shaft and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
    Spike Lee
    - She's Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing
    Tyler Perry
    - Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself

    Selected Filmography
    Suggestions for Further Reading


    GLOSSARY

    INDEX