Edna Ferber's Hollywood reveals one of the most influential artistic relationships of the twentieth century—the four-decade partnership between historical novelist Edna Ferber and the Hollywood studios. Ferber was one of America's most controversial popular historians, a writer whose uniquely feminist, multiracial view of the national past deliberately clashed with traditional narratives of white masculine power. Hollywood paid premium sums to adapt her novels, creating some of the most memorable films of the studio era—among them Show Boat, Cimarron, and Giant. Her historical fiction resonated with Hollywood's interest in prestigious historical filmmaking aimed principally, but not exclusively, at female audiences.
In Edna Ferber's Hollywood, J. E. Smyth explores the research, writing, marketing, reception, and production histories of Hollywood's Ferber franchise. Smyth tracks Ferber's working relationships with Samuel Goldwyn, Leland Hayward, George Stevens, and James Dean; her landmark contract negotiations with Warner Bros.; and the controversies surrounding Giant's critique of Jim-Crow Texas. But Edna Ferber's Hollywood is also the study of the historical vision of an American outsider—a woman, a Jew, a novelist with few literary pretensions, an unashamed middlebrow who challenged the prescribed boundaries among gender, race, history, and fiction. In a masterful film and literary history, Smyth explores how Ferber's work helped shape Hollywood's attitude toward the American past.
The aesthetics of frame theory form the basis of Framing Shakespeare on Film. This groundbreaking work expands on the discussion of film constructivists in its claim that the spectacle of Shakespeare on film is a problem-solving activity.
Kathy Howlett demonstrates convincingly how viewers’ expectations for understanding Shakespeare on film can be manipulated by the director’s cinematic technique. Emphasizing that the successful film can transform Shakespeare’s text while remaining rooted in Shakespearean conceptions, Howlett raises the question of how directors and audiences understand the genre of Shakespeare on film and reveals how the medium alters the patterns through which the audience views Shakespeare.
Because of the special stamp he put on his melodramas, Sirk's best works transcend the constraints of their genre. In them, he both exemplified and critiqued postwar, conservative, materialistic life and its false value systems. There is much in Sirk, particularly in Imitation of Life, that is of interest to us today. The time seems to be right for a new look at the film, its reception amidst scandal over the affairs of its star—Lana Turner—the relationships between its mothers and daughters, the tensions between its men and its women, the friendships between its black and white women, and the ambiguous, controversial approach of Sirk to his material.
This volume includes the complete continuity script of the film, critical commentary and published reviews, interviews with the director, and a filmography and bibliography. It also includes an excellent introduction by Lucy Fischer.
Film critic David Sterritt’s Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility showcases the social and aesthetic viewpoints of lynchpin Beat writers Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, juxtaposing their artistry with 1950s culture and achieving what Kerouac might have called a “bookmovie” riff. In clear prose, Sterritt captures the raw energy of the Beats and joins in their celebration of aesthetic freakishness. Tapping into the diversified spirit of the Beat Generation and its nuanced relationship with postwar American culture, Sterritt considers how the Beats variously foreground, challenge, and illuminate major issues in Hollywood and avant-garde film, critical and cultural theory, and music in the mass-media age.
Sterritt engages the creative and spiritual facets of the Beats, emulating their desire to evoke ephemeral aspects of human existence. Dealing with both high and low cultures as well as various subcultures, he highlights the complementary contributions to cultural creativity made by these authors. Screening the Beats grapples with paradoxes in Beat writing, in particular the conflict between spiritual purity and secular connectedness, which often materialized in the beatific bebop spontaneity, Zen-like transcendentalism, and plain hipster smarts that characterized the writings of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg.
This interdisciplinary study tackles such topics as Ginsberg’s and Kerouac’s uses of racial and ethnic stereotypes prevalent in the popular movies of the 1950s era; the uses and limitations of improvisation as a creative tool in literature, jazz, and film; Kerouac’s use of cinematic metaphor to evoke Buddhist concepts; and intersections of the grotesque and carnivalesque in works as seemingly diverse as autobiographical novels by Kerouac, a radio play by Antonin Artaud, cultural theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and the boisterous lunacy of Three Stooges farce. Deftly threading literary, musical, and cinematic works with a colorful array of critical theories, Screening the Beats illuminates the relationship between American culture and the imaginative forces of the Beat Generation.
Samuel Crowl’s Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era is the first thorough exploration of the fifteen major Shakespeare films released since the surprising success of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (1989). Crowl presents the rich variety of these films in the “long decade: between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.” The productions range from Hollywood-saturated films such as Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet and Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to more modest, experimental offerings, such as Christine Edzard’s As You Like It. Now available in paperback, Shakespeare at the Cineplex will be welcome reading for fans, students, and scholars of Shakespeare in performance.
Scholarship on screen adaptation has proliferated in recent years, but it has remained largely focused on English- and Romance-language authors. Tolstoy on Screen aims to correct this imbalance with a comprehensive examination of film and television adaptations of Tolstoy’s fiction. Spanning the silent era to the present day, these essays consider well-known as well as neglected works in light of contemporary adaptation and media theory. The book is organized to facilitate a comparative, cross-cultural understanding of the various practices employed in different eras and different countries to bring Tolstoy’s writing to the screen. International in scope and rigorous in analysis, the essays cast new light on Tolstoy’s work and media studies alike.
Ranging from cinematic images of Jane Austen's estates to Oscar Wilde's drawing rooms, Dianne F. Sadoff looks at popular heritage films, often featuring Hollywood stars, that have been adapted from nineteenth-century novels.
Victorian Vogue argues that heritage films perform different cultural functions at key historical moments in the twentieth century. According to Sadoff, they are characterized by a double historical consciousness-one that is as attentive to the concerns of the time of production as to those of the Victorian period. If James Whale's Frankenstein and Tod Browning's Dracula exploited post-Depression fear in the 1930s, the horror films of the 1950s used the genre to explore homosexual panic, 1970s movies elaborated the sexuality only hinted at in the thirties, and films of the 1990s indulged the pleasures of consumption.
Taking a broad view of the relationships among film, literature, and current events, Sadoff contrasts films not merely with their nineteenth-century source novels but with crucial historical moments in the twentieth century, showing their cultural use in interpreting the present, not just the past.
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