Boxing Films And Class

More Hollywood films have been made about boxing than any other sport. The most common narrative for the prizefight film involves the boxer's quick rise from disadvantage to the title, followed by a fall from grace usually due to the seduction of wealth and fame, and some form of redemption in the third act. The heroic triumph over long odds implied in such a bare-bones plot summary explains in part why so many boxing films have been made, and also probably why some of the biggest male stars in...

Ray Harryhausen b Los Angeles California June

An American model animation and special effects expert, Ray Harryhausen provided the visual effects for many science fiction and fantasy films. Harryhausen's work was characterized by a combination of anatomical authenticity and creative fantasy, whether he was animating actual animals (the dinosaurs of One Million Years B.C., 1966) or imaginary beasts (the Venusian Ymir of 20 Million Miles to Earth, 1957). As a young man Harryhausen was interested in sculpture and palaeontology, both of which...

Multiple Media System

Stardom in the cinema has always relied on relationships with various other forms of popular mass media. Historically, relationships between film stardom and other media have operated in two main ways the flows of performing talent between other media and film, and the use of other media as channels to promote film stars. As already discussed, theater originally fed the film star system in the earliest decades of cinema. With the birth of radio broadcasting in the late 1920s, a new popular...

ABBOTT and Costello William A Bud Abbott b Asbury Park New Jersey October d April Louis Francis Lou Costello b

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were Universal's top stars of the 1940s, eclipsed only by Paramount's comedy duo of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and they continued to costar in Universal comedies until the mid-1950s. The duo proved eminently adaptable, shifting from service comedies (comedies about life in the military) to genre parodies to comedy-horror hybrids, although the essence of their onscreen appeal remained the comic banter and classic shtick (like their Who's on First '' routine) first...

Aesthetic Debates

It was by no means a foregone conclusion that sound would be used unobtrusively. When it became obvious that talkies were the sound wave of the future, filmmakers and theorists alike worried that their art form would lose its expressive potential. They worried films would become canned theater,'' in the words of the French director Ren Clair (1898-1981), that the camera's enslavement to the microphone would necessarily stifle the eloquent camera movement, lighting, and montage that many...

After Walt The Sixties Through The Disney Decade

By the 1960s, the company had developed a diversified foundation, with the Disney brand firmly established in a wide range of film products (live action and animation), as well as television, theme parks, and merchandise. The Disney firm also benefited from a policy of re-releasing its popular (already amortized) feature films every few years, reaping additional profits with minimal additional expenditures. For instance, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was re-released in 1952, 1958, and 1967,...

Aftermath

With the 1920s came the jazz age, providing distractions from events that for many were far from resolved. In Germany the social and psychological trauma caused by the war inspired the Expressionist movement. Contemporary anxieties were played out in the distorted, fantastical settings of films such as Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene, 1920) and Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, 1922). Although this style gave German films a distinctive national aesthetic,...

Alexander Dovzhenko b Sosnitsa Russia now Ukraine September d November

Alexander Dovzhenko is regarded as Ukraine's premier filmmaker and the nation's most revered artist of the twentieth century. In nine fiction films and three documentaries, as well as a number of literary works and drawings, Dovzhenko gave creative form to Ukraine's difficult historical progress toward modernity during the Soviet era. His film work takes up themes of the social and economic modernization program sustained by the Soviet regime, while also invoking traditional motifs from...

Alfred Hitchcock b London England August d April

The most famous of all film directors, and the one most closely identified with the thriller, Alfred Hitchcock completed his first film in 1925. However, he did not cement his association with the thriller until the mid-1930s, when he directed five major spy films (TheMan Who Knew Too Much, 1934 The 39 Steps, 1935 Secret Agent, 1936 Sabotage, 1936 and The Lady Vanishes, 1938). In this period, he developed such Hitchcockian trademarks as the double chase (in which a falsely suspected hero such...

American Cinema And The Challenge Of Vietnam

In contrast to the central role played by Hollywood in World War II, representations of the Vietnam War were rare in mainstream American cinema while US troops occupied Southeast Asia. Although a variety of fiction films referenced or showed the influence of the war, few combat films were made about Vietnam during the period of actual combat. Instead, the primary media representation of combat was television news coverage. Because Vietnam was the first ''television war,'' some critics have...

Andrei Tarkovsky b Zavrazhe Ivanono Russia April d December

Andrei Tarkovsky remains the most esteemed Soviet filmmaker of the post-World War II era despite having a relatively small body of work. An uncompromising artist and visionary who refused to bend either to Soviet governmental authorities or to commercial considerations, he completed only seven features and one short. His films were years in the making and often faced distribution delays or limited release. Each answered to his personal vision and gave form to the central concern of his own...

At The Movies

As much as the star scandals of the early 1920s may have outraged sectors of the American populace, the negative publicity did little to dampen the general enthusiasm for motion pictures. During the mature silent period, movies acquired the status of a mass commercial entertainment, with audience levels climbing throughout the 1920s, especially in the latter part of the decade. Weekly paid admissions in the United States jumped from 40 million in 1922 to 65 million in 1928. In fact, it was...

B Archibald Alexander Leach Bristol England January d November

Cary Grant put his stamp on screwball comedy like no other performer. In the genre's heyday he seemed to appear in every other watershed film. These classics include The Awful Truth and Topper (both 1937), Holiday and Bringing Up Baby (both 1938), His Girl Friday (1939), and My Favorite Wife (1940). Moreover, in the post-World War II era, when screwball comedy was less frequently produced, he starred in two excellent revisionist examples of the genre directed by one of the major directors of...

B John Martin Feeney Cape Elizabeth Maine February d August

Although most of his more than two hundred films (four of which garnered him Academy Awards as best director) were not westerns, John Ford is widely recognized as the greatest director of the quintessential American film genre. While Ford himself dismissed the critical evaluation of his work that began late in his life, he is acclaimed as not only one of the genre's key storytellers but also its intuitive poet, a creator of evocative cultural images as meaningful as his films' stories. After...

B King Wallis Vidor Galveston Texas February d November

In a film career whose durability was unrivalled by almost any other director, by the early 1920s King Vidor had developed a reputation as a morally earnest director of meaningful, atmospheric pictures about ordinary people in extraordinary and often hostile environments. Vidor's early years were steeped in the movies. As a teenager he filmed footage for the Mutual Weekly newsreels of US troops sent to the border during the Mexican civil war. He continued to sell material on a piecemeal basis...

B Lansing Michigan February

The strikingly humorous and often affecting films that John Hughes made in just the few years between 1984 and 1987 became classics of the teen film genre. Hughes was a teenager himself when his family moved from Michigan to the suburbs of Chicago, a move that would resonate in many of his teenage characters who deal with displacement and alienation, and often do so in the Chicago area. After attending the University of Arizona for a few years and marrying his high school sweetheart, Hughes...

B Lillian Diana de Guiche Springfield Ohio October d February

Lillian Gish was one of the first female stars of American cinema, best known for her performances in silent films but the recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 1970 for superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures'' during an exceptionally long career. After working as child stage actors, Lillian and her younger sister Dorothy joined the Biograph Company in 1912. There they worked with the director D. W. Griffith, making their screen debuts in...

B Marion Michael Morrison Winterset Iowa May d June

John Wayne's long and successful movie career earned him legendary status. He became an internationally recognized American icon, representing the strong, silent hero who lived by the virtues of bravery, commitment to traditions, respect for women and children, and a deep patriotism. Wayne was most commonly associated with the western genre, beginning with The Big Trail (1930), his first starring role, to his final movie, The Shootist (1976). More than any other film star, Wayne came to...

B Richard Leslie Taylor Cheshire England February

With Oscars for special makeup effects (2002, 2004), costume (2003, 2004) and visual effects (2002), the critical and popular success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is to date the high point of Richard Taylor's career. Perhaps the first films planned from the start for DVD release, the trilogy privileged the detailed attention to props, sets, and makeup that characterizes Taylor's work as the cofounder and artistic director of Weta, the firm that coordinated the production effects for the...

B William Clark Gable Cadiz Ohio February d November

Although Clark Gable would obtain the title the King'' during his years in Hollywood, as a contracted performer at MGM, the dominance of the studio system would mean that Gable was always more ruled than ruling. After an unspectacular stage career, Gable secured a couple of supporting roles in film, with MGM then signing him to a two-year contract with six-month options at 350 per week. That year Gable made eight more films for MGM and two on loan to Warner Bros. as he became integrated into...

Betty Grable b Ruth Elizabeth Grable St Louis Missouri December d July

Betty Grable sang and danced her way through Hollywood movies from the age of fourteen. After signing with RKO in 1932, her most memorable roles were as the perky co-ed in films like Collegiate (1936), Pigskin Parade (1936), Campus Confessions (1938), and College Swing (1938). Her career took off in the 1940s, when she signed with Twentieth Century Fox and starred in the Technicolor musical Down Argentine Way (1940). A series of colorful, light-hearted star vehicles followed, each the...

Beyond The Picture Palace

Coupled with the economic woes of the 1930s and the costs of wiring theaters for sound films, exhibitors also faced the increasingly widespread popularity of radio (with its free entertainment). In addition, a burgeoning nontheatrical market for moving pictures had emerged with the growing availability of 16mm sound projectors in the later 1930s. Exhibitors increased efforts to attract audiences to the theater by lowering ticket prices and relying on special promotions, contests, and...

Breaking The New Proscenium

It is a mistake to regard this thirty-year period as primarily a series of misguided intentions and artistic and commercial failures for both the theater and cinema establishments. Quite the contrary. Not only did thousands of plays and players reach a public to which they would otherwise have been unavailable, but the consequences of these collaborations resulted in a reassessment of each medium's artistic and commercial priorities and an exploration of alternative modes of expression. The...

Britain Prepared

In the United Kingdom the need to continue with everyday life resulted in a business-as-usual approach by cinema managers, echoing the practical patriotism of the United States. In British theaters during the winter of 1915, audiences of uniformed men laughed at the broad comedy of pantomime one moment and sang melancholy war anthems, such as ''Keep the Home Fires Burning,'' the next in similar fashion, cinema's blend of reality with escapism was readily accepted. Movie theaters accommodated...

Catherine Breillat b Bressuire France July

Based in Paris, Catherine Breillat became famous as a writer and filmmaker confronting sexuality from a candid and unsentimental viewpoint she was even dubbed a porno auteuriste'' by some critics. Her start in film was a supporting role in Bertolucci's landmark exploration of sexual politics, Last Tango in Paris (1972). Her first film as writer and director, Une vraie jeune ftlle (A Real Young Girl, 1976), focuses on the sexual experiences and desires of a young woman, but eschews the...

Cinema After The Sexual Revolution

By the end of the 1970s, a general cultural backlash against the sexual revolution began to develop in many areas, partly fueled by growing fears of sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and AIDS. The United States, the United Kingdom, and West Germany, for example, elected conservative politicians that promised to restore traditional values'' which generally meant reestablishing the patriarchal heterosexual family unit. British prime minister Margaret Thatcher promoted a heritage...

Clint Eastwood b Clinton Eastwood Jr San Francisco California

In an acting career spanning more than five decades, Clint Eastwood achieved stardom by epitomizing tough masculine independence. This image was the product not only of the characters he played, but of a performance style that remained emotionally impassive and contained. Although Eastwood played a variety of roles, his stardom was defined by those he took in westerns directed by Sergio Leone and police thrillers directed by Don Siegel. Following a succession of minor film roles, Eastwood...

Color And Sound

Long before Technicolor revolutionized the look of movies, color appeared in movies through a number of different methods. One of the first narrative movie directors, Georges Melies (1861-1938), known for his early special effects and camera trickery, used color on occasion to accentuate spectacle, such as bursts of yellow flame and the like. In order to achieve this effect, he had individual frames hand-painted, a laborious and expensive practice. Tinting and toning were more popular, if only...

Cut Scenes And Point Of View

The use of cinematic cut scenes in computer-based games is one of the more obvious connections between cinema and games. Cut scenes are short, pre-rendered sequences in which the game player performs a role closer to that of a detached observer than is the case in more active periods of gameplay. Cut scenes tend to employ camera movement, shot-selection, framing, and editing similar to that used in cinema. Many games use cut scenes to establish the initial setting, character and background...

D November

Stage and screen director Tony Richardson was a major shaping influence in British theater and film during the 1950s and 1960s. Born the only child of a pharmacist in the West Riding region of Yorkshire, he was educated at Ashville College, Harrogate, and Wadham College, Oxford. After earning a B.A. in English Literature in 1951, he enrolled in the Director Training Program at the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the next four years he not only directed several notable television...

Dadaist Roots

The roots of surrealism begin with the dada movement. Dada was founded in 1915 in Zurich, Switzerland, by an international group of pacifist intellectuals and artists who fled to the neutral country in protest of World War I. This group felt that humanity's megalomania and industrial capitalism were the principle causes of the war, so they considered dada to be a ''moral revolution.'' In the process of creating dada art, the artist held no special significance he or she was merely the vessel...

Darryl F Zanuck b Wahoo Nebraska September d December

Among Hollywood's pioneering producers and studio heads, Darryl Zanuck was unique for his longevity at the helm of the studio he co-founded, 20th Century Fox, as well as for his intense involvement in the filmmaking process. Along with Irving Thalberg and David Selznick, Zanuck was one of Hollywood's first-generation boy wonders, supervising production at a major studio (Warner Bros.) while still in his twenties. But Zanuck alone among top Hollywood executives rose through the creative ranks...

Defining The War Film

Coming up with a generic definition of the war film presents problems. Sometimes movies are labeled war films'' even when they are not set in combat. Since You Went Away (1944), the story of the American home front in 1944, is not about fighting battles with weapons but fighting the daily battle of morale for those whose lives are indirectly affected. Similarly, The Best Years of Our Lives is about the return to civilian life of three soldiers from different economic backgrounds and the...

Definition And History

In common with the Hollywood melodrama, the woman's picture's characteristic themes involve moral dilemmas and conflicts associated with sexuality, home, and family, commonly set in a middle-class milieu and played out in stories of the fates of individuals. However, the woman's picture departs from the melodrama in two key respects in the focus and trajectory of its narrative concerns and in its rhetoric. Within the setting of the family, issues that may be seen as of particular concern to...

Do Your Bit For America

The United States entered the war on 5 April 1917. President Wilson called on everyone to ''Do Your Bit for America,'' and this included the film industry. At every level helping with recruitment and fund-raising, making training films as well as inspirational fiction features featuring charismatic movie stars cinema worked to align the nation to the political and social needs of the day. Producers, distributors, and exhibitors developed an approach of ''practical patriotism,'' finding that...

Driveins And Art Cinemas

Shrinking movie attendance from the late 1940s into the 1950s, coupled with the increasing suburbanization of America, led to a new round of theater closings as well as to certain technological innovations intended to underscore the superiority of the big-screen experience over the small, black-and-white image of home television. Preeminent were much-publicized wide-screen processes, which offered images wider and more horizontal than the standard academy ratio found on television. Although...

Dudley Nichols b Wapakoneta Ohio April d January

Dudley Nichols was one of the most variously talented and durable of Hollywood screenwriters throughout the 1930s and 1940s, winning an Oscar for John Ford's The Informer (1935, adapted from Liam O'Flaherty's novel and co-written with Ford). In a career spanning thirty years and over sixty feature films, he proved a master of genres from westerns to screwball and romantic comedies to historical dramas and swashbuckling adventure films. Coming to screenwriting from journalism, Nichols began as...

Dusan Makavejev b Belgrade Yugoslavia now Serbia October

Dusan Makavejev is one of the most controversial directors and screenwriters to emerge from the former Yugoslavia. Trained in both psychology and film, Makavejev began his career writing film criticism and directing shorts and documentaries. From the beginning, his films posed a challenge to the values of the socialist state. Openly provocative in his approach, Makavejev established himself as the most original member of the Yugoslav oppositional Black Wave.'' His first feature, Covek nije tica...

Early Film Westerns And The Coming Of Sound

The western, often viewed as an unusually stable form, did not in fact achieve definition as a film genre until around 1910, when it became one of early cinema's most familiar and successful products. Although Edwin S. Porter's (1870-1941) The Great Train Robbery (1903), produced for the Edison Company and based on an 1896 stage melodrama, is often identified as the first western, film historians have demonstrated that the generic category itself was not yet firmly in place, so Porter's film...

Early History

The history of the Walt Disney Company is bound up with the history of Walt Disney himself. Disney began cartooning in Kansas City with a series called Alice's Wonderland (1923), which included live action and animation. When he moved to California in 1923, he made arrangements with a New York company to distribute the Alice films. (The company considers this as its starting date.) Since Walt Disney (1901-1966) was a partner with his brother Roy (b. 1930), the company was originally called the...

Early Teen Films

The appearance of actual adolescents in movies was not common until the 1930s. By that point Hollywood studios had firmly established their grip on American culture, and even more so on their contract players. But they had difficulty in maintaining public interest in young stars, who inevitably grew out of their youthful charms. This was the case with one of the first teen stars, Deanna Durbin (b. 1921), whose success started at age fifteen in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936), One Hundred...

Film On Network Television From

Diversifying into television may have seemed risky for a studio in the early 1950s, but within a decade television had become firmly entrenched in Hollywood, where the studios had come to depend for their very existence on the income provided by television. Networks and local stations leaned almost exclusively on Hollywood to satisfy their endless need for programming. By the end of the 1950s, 80 percent of network prime-time programming was produced in Hollywood it had become nearly impossible...

Film Stardom As A Cultural Institution

In his 1990 history of the formation of the star system in American cinema, Richard DeCordova argues that after an initial period when the names of film performers were not publicly circulated and films actors remained anonymous to the moviegoing public, the first move towards a star system came with the earliest advertising of performers' names from 1909 onward. Ever since, film stardom has worked through the circulation of performer names and it is through the distribution of those names that...

Formation Of The Film Star System In America

When film and cinema technologies first appeared in Europe and the United States in the mid-1890s, film was sold to consumers on the technological effect of moving images rather than the content of what those images represented. Consequently, the first entrepreneurs who aimed to exploit the commercial potential of the new medium saw its value as an instrument of technological innovation rather than as a new performance medium. In this commercial context, film acting remained an amateur or...

From Cold War To New World Order

Just as the synthesis of glamour and disillusionment in Hitchcock's British espionage films increasingly tended toward a critique of the whole project of spying, the two poles were split for other filmmakers whose view of spying was formed by the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. Following a modest Redbaiting cycle that included I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951), Big Jim McLain (1952), and Pickup on South Street (1953), the glamour of spying returned full force in...

From Multiplex To Megaplex

Before 1960, a few theaters had been built in shopping centers. There were even rare attempts to create twin cinemas, so-called because they included two separate auditoria with a common foyer and box office. But the multiplex was very much a product of the 1960s, usually credited to Stanley H. Durwood (1920-1999), who built his first twin cinema in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1963. Housed in a suburban shopping center, Durwood's multiplex used the same projection facility and concession stand...

From The Zanuck Era To The New Hollywood

The year 1950 also marked the release of All About Eve, Fox's consummate postwar success. Produced by Zanuck, written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909 1993), the film starred Bette Davis (1908-1989) as a veteran stage star struggling with advancing age and a declining career, and its many awards included Oscars for best picture, director, and screenplay. All About Eve also featured Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) in a bit part one of several in the early 1950s that paved the way to leading...

Further Reading

Alexander Dovzhenko The Poet as Filmmaker. Edited and translated by Marco Carynnyk. Cambridge, MA MIT Press, 1973. Kepley, Vance. In the Service of the State The Cinema of Alexander Dovzhenko. Madison University of Wisconsin Press, 1986. Liber, George. Alexander Dovzhenko A Life in Soviet Film. London British Film Institute, 2002. often subordinates editing to the demands of character development. Eisenstein's more aggressive aesthetic is illustrated in his parallel...

Genesis And Rapid Growth

The genesis of the Warner movie empire actually began in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the three older Warner brothers, Harry, Albert (Abe), and Sam, all still in their twenties, went into the nickelodeon business around 1903. (Jack, born in 1892, sang during intermissions and reel changes.) Like many early exhibitors, they soon moved into distribution to ensure a flow of product, only to tangle with the Motion Picture Patents Company. They persisted, however, and eventually reached a watershed...

Glamour And Disillusionment

Spying is nearly as old as recorded history. The biblical Book of Joshua tells how Joshua, son of Nun, sent two spies secretly into Canaan in order to ascertain whether the land was fruitful and readily susceptible to conquest. Three thousand years later, Cardinal Richelieu established an elaborate network of secret agents to protect both Louis XIII of France and his own personal interests, an episode fictionalized in numerous novels by Alexandre Dumas and such film adaptations as The Three...

Harold Pinter b London England October

Harold Pinter has said that his works begin with an image, rather than a theme, and that he is a visual writer. It is not surprising, then, that he has found success working in film. Although Pinter winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature is primarily known as a playwright, with many of his plays regarded as masterpieces of the English stage, he has also had a long and celebrated career writing for both film and television. Pinter's screenplays are all adaptations of other works his own...

Henry Fonda b Grand Island Nebraska May d August

Henry Fonda appeared in fewer than a dozen films for 20th Century Fox, but those early roles effectively shaped his enduring persona a common man of quiet decency, Midwestern stoicism, homespun virtue, and reluctant heroism. Fonda never forgave Darryl Zanuck for forcing him into a long-term contract to get the role of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), but that transaction gave Fonda a career-defining role and brought 20th Century Fox precisely the kind of critical acclaim and industry...

Heyday Of The American Crime Thriller

After 1940, major developments in the movie thriller centered around various phases of the crime thriller, especially in the American cinema. This cycle began in the detective genre, particularly the hard-boiled detective story associated with such writers as Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) and Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) and adapted by such films as The Maltese Falcon (1941), Murder, My Sweet (1944), and The Big Sleep (1946). In contrast to the refined, detached sleuths of whod unit authors like...

Hollywood Goes To

Following World War I, Americans entered into a period of profound isolationism. The US government, despite the escalation of what Americans called the European War, would remain neutral until 1941. But with the founding of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League in 1936, the Hollywood community politicized itself in advance of the government, a stance strengthened by the nearly complete elimination of the German market for its films. Without the worry of losing overseas profits, Hollywood from 1939 to...

Info

King Vidor. everett collection. reproduced by permission. certain images to be censored early in 1915, some scenes of warfare were cut. After The Battle of the Somme, Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the most significant film of the period for British audiences. The film was shown only in theaters and not cinemas, sparking debate among exhibitors, who felt they were being squeezed out because the theater showings attracted a middle-class clientele that did not normally frequent the...

International Postwar Struggles And The Ascendancy Of Hollywood

It was a specific technological development that ended the mature silent period, but it was an international event of epoch-defining magnitude that helped mark its beginning. By and large, World War I, which began in 1914, had a disastrous effect on most national cinemas in Europe, hastening a decline already apparent for some (England, France) while halting the momentum experienced by others (Denmark, Italy). Only two countries, Sweden and Germany, emerged from the war with their national...

James Dean b Marion Indiana February d September

James Dean's breakthrough came when, in his early twenties, he gave profound performances playing teenagers in East of Eden (1955) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Before he could thoroughly enjoy the fame these films brought him, his life was tragically cut short in a car accident. His final film, Giant (1956), had not yet been released. Dean's untimely death seemed to assure him everlasting status as a cult figure for youth. Dean was born in Indiana but moved with his family to Los Angeles...

Lang Hitchcock Spies And Monsters

Fritz Lang (1890 1976), who rivals Alfred Hitchcock as the most important director in the evolution of the movie thriller, served his apprenticeship on German adventure series featuring exotic locales, Asian motifs, and Feuillade-influenced supercriminals. He transposed these exotic and adventurous concepts into the here and now of postwar German society in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler, 1922), an epic crime thriller that paints a broad canvas of the chaos and decadence of...

Literary Roots

Mary Shelley's (1797-1851) Frankenstein (1818) is often cited as a crucial literary antecedent to sci-fi films. The novel is of particular interest because of its portrayal of creating life from non-living materials and, equally importantly, because of Shelley's investigation of the ethical ramifications of the human (specifically male) creation of life. Later science fiction narratives about robots, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and cloning clearly owe a debt to Shelley, though few if any...

Louis Feuillade b Lunel France February d February

Between 1907 and 1925 Louis Feuillade directed over eight hundred films in almost every contemporary genre in France, but he is now best remembered as the producer, director, and writer of serials. His career in the cinema began when he was hired as a screenwriter by Gaumont in 1905, becoming Head of Production two years later. In 1910 he began making films in series. Fantomas, his first serial, went into production in 1913. Based on a series of novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Silvestre,...

Luis Bunuel b Calanda Spain February d July

The best-known Spanish filmmaker before Pedro Almodovar, Luis Bunuel had a film career that spanned fifty years and involved work in three national cinemas, those of Spain, France, and Mexico. Ironically, of the thirty-one films he made, only four of them were shot in his native Spain. Along with persistent attacks on Christian dogma and church hypocrisy, Buiiuel's most characteristic theme is a contemptuous view of bourgeois morality and middle-class values. His Mexican period, beginning in...

Mack Sennett b Richmond Quebec Canada January d Woodland Hills California November

It seems appropriate that Mack Sennett, the father of slapstick comedy, made his first stage appearance as the rear end of a pantomime horse at the Bowery Burlesque in New York City. Responsible for inaugurating the conventions of both custard pie-throwing and the comic chase, Sennett's grasp of comedy was always physical rather than verbal. Born Michael Sinnott in Quebec, Sennett left Canada for New England in his youth. Although opera was his initial career goal, he pragmatically settled for...

Major Achievements

While the first few years of synchronized sound generated many painfully static films that were effectively filmed stage plays, the challenge and limitations of the new technology stimulated some directors to use sound in ways that remain benchmarks of creativity. In Great Britain, Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) experimented with varieties of subjective sound in Blackmail (1929), Murder (1930), and Secret Agent (1936). In Germany, Fritz Lang (1890-1976) showed in M Eine Stadt sucht einen Morder...

Mary Pickford b Gladys Smith Toronto Canada April d

No major star within the silent era can match the career longevity of Mary Pickford. Starting at Biograph in 1909, she established herself as a leading performer with her first films and went on to become the industry's biggest female star for the next two decades. Compelling onscreen, Pickford was equally adept at controlling the aspects of stardom that extend beyond the screen. A consummate businesswoman, she capitalized on her popularity from early on, negotiating favorable terms of...

Maurice Schwartz b Sedikov Russia later Ukraine June d

Ulmer is today the best-known of the Yiddish filmmakers, he notoriously did not speak Yiddish and his approach to the Yiddish cinema, polished and insightful though it is, lacks the raw power that one sees in the true masterpieces of Yiddish cinema, including Maurice Schwartz's Tevye der Milkhiker (Tevye the Milkman, 1939). One of many adaptations of Sholem Aleichem's beloved novel of the bedraggled dairyman and his attempts to marry off his numerous daughters, Schwartz's version is...

Michael Mann b Chicago Illinois February

Michael Mann is roughly the same age as Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, George Lucas, and the other directors of the film-school generation who revived American filmmaking in the 1970s, but he is seldom thought of as a member of that generation, despite the fact he too attended film school in the 1960s. Like the romantic loners who inhabit his films, Mann followed his own route to the film industry. He attended film school in London, instead of New York or Los Angeles, and while his peers...

Nazi Control

Just as Ufa's Dawn anticipated Nazi cinema, its board preempted official Nazi policy three days before the official Nazi boycott of German Jews was instituted, Ufa fired all of its Jewish employees (29 March 1933). While in the course of 1933 the Propaganda Ministry was established under Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) in order to create a precensorship office for the ideological control of all German film productions and the industry was aryanized by making it illegal for Jews to make films, Ufa...

Novi Film

A tendency rather than a film movement called novi film emerged in the wake of the political and economic liberalization of Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 70s. While lacking a program or coherent aesthetics, novi film sought to free Yugoslav cinema from bureaucratic dogmatism and promote free expression and experimentation. Inspired by Italian Neorealism and various new waves in European cinema, the filmmakers rejected the dominant style of socialist realism, with its officially sanctioned...

Opportunities For Supporting Actors

Actors who specialize in supporting roles sometimes describe their work as similar to performing in a stock theater company, for which actors fill multiple roles in a variety of plays over the course of a single season. Similarly, an actor who plays supporting roles will frequently be asked to perform a wide assortment of types. Versatility is a key element in the career of many supporting players. Frances McDormand, for example, played two very different supporting roles in the films Raising...

Original Films Versus Adaptations Remakes And Sequels

It should come as no surprise that in Hollywood more scripts are adaptations than original scripts from clearly original ideas. Because Hollywood has always been a business, the fact that a book or a play or even a television show has been popular certainly spurs on producers to say, Let's make the movie '' The year 2003 even saw the adaptation of an amusement park ride into a hit movie (Pirates of the Caribbean) and similarly with a video game (Resident Evil). In such a manner, Gone with the...

Origins

Screwball comedy was tied to a period of transition in American humor that gained momentum by the late 1920s. The dominant comedy character had been the capable cracker-barrel type, such as Will Rogers it now became an antihero, best exemplified by characters in The New Yorker writings of Robert Benchley (1889-1945) and James Thurber (1894-1961), or Leo McCarey's (1898-1969) silent comedy shorts with Laurel and Hardy. (McCarey would later direct the screwball classic The Awful Truth, 1937)....

Origins Of The Movie Thriller

The thriller goes against the grain of mundane modern life while at the same time remaining immersed in it. This concept indicates that the thriller is an essentially modern form, whose rise coincides with the arrival of urban industrialism, mass society, middle-class lifestyle, and the twentieth century. In other words, the thriller is a response to a modern world that is perceived under normal circumstances to be fundamentally not thrilling. As Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) observed in a 1936...

Origins Of The Western

Recognizable early sources of the popular western can be located in persistent manifestations of the Pocahontas legend, in Indian captivity narratives such as A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison (1824), and in travel memoirs such as Francis Parkman's (1823-1893) The Oregon Trail (1849). Fiction, especially James Fenimore Cooper's (1789-1851) five Leatherstocking novels (18231841) and Bret Harte's (1836-1902) frontier tales from the late 1860s also established influential patterns for...

Outside The Mainstream

Despite the popular appeal of Yesilcam, criticism that it was a commercial cinema that steered away from social problems and realities motivated two major movements outside the mainstream. Alongside the social and the political developments following the 27 May 1960 revolution and the liberal social atmosphere created by the new constitution, there appeared a group of films focusing on the social problems of cities and villages, including issues of class, migration, urbanization, unemployment,...

Peace Or Preparedness

In the period of early cinema, the United States was primarily concerned with its domestic market, but from 1909 the commercial advantage of exporting film overseas became clear. Although Hollywood had successfully exported before 1914, the dominance it achieved a few years later was made possible by the war. France had been the world leader in film export, with Italy and Denmark close behind indeed, France had been at the forefront of cinema's development, with pioneering filmmakers such as...

Pedro Almodovar b Calzada de la Calatrava Spain September

The most acclaimed contemporary Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar developed his skills as a filmmaker in underground shorts he made in the 1970s before turning to commercial feature-length films with Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del monton (Pepi, Luci, Bom, 1980). This raucous comedy, shot on a shoestring, eventually became a cult hit. It portrayed characters from Madrid's pop-culture movement of the late 1970s (Movida) in the flimsiest of plots. In a similar antibourgeois style, Laberinto...

Post Turkish Cinema

After a two-year military administration following the 1980 coup, Turkey entered a new stage of social change with the capitalistic policies of the new civil government. Among the major film trends in the 1980s were films dealing with the coup's psychological effects on individuals, especially intellectuals ''women's films'' paralleling the rise of feminism in Turkey and depicting female characters in search of their identities and liberty and films dealing with cinematic practice itself in...

Poststructuralism From System To Subversion

Beginning in the late 1960s a group of theorists led by Jacques Derrida began to challenge the very basic assumptions that had informed structuralist thought, starting with its cornerstone, Saussurean semiotics. These attacks followed once the initial enthusiasm for structuralism began to wane. Less a theory than an interpretive attitude, poststructuralism in its broadest sense refers to an attention towards those elements unexplained, excluded, or repressed by structuralism's tidy systems, as...

Problems And Debates

It is not difficult to find fault with a concept and the political investment placed in a corresponding mode of film practice introduced over three decades ago. Nevertheless, some constructive criticisms can be, and have been, made in relation to the implications of Solanas and Getino's argument on aesthetic, ethical, and ideological grounds. The first is the problem of an intellectual and artistic vanguard those who are familiar with the language of neocolonial cinema and thought, yet who, in...

Prominent Stage And Screen Artists

A century of theater-film interaction has seen many stage-trained directors, writers, and performers whose motion pictures bear the traces of their theatrical experience and sensibilities. In the silent period, David Wark Griffith quit the life of an itinerant player to score a spectacular success in the burgeoning film industry with smash hits The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Way Down East (1920) (both based on stage plays) in America. Mauritz Stiller (1883-1928) and Victor Sjostrom...

Propaganda

The United States, with a guaranteed freedom of the press, has provided its citizens access to information as a right of the democratic process. The idea of ''propaganda'' is linked to totalitarian governments, with an attendant suspicion of inaccurate, slanted information. Therefore, when the United States became involved in two world wars, it faced the issue of how to mobilize its populace, provide accurate information, and influence morale without violating the basic tenets of democracy. The...

Recommended Viewing

Covek nije tica (Man Is Not a Bird, 1965), Ljubavni sluCaj ili tragedija sluzbenice PTT (Love Affair or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, 1967), Nevinost bez zaCstite (Innocence Unprotected, 1968), W.R. Misterije organizma (W.R. Mysteries of the Organism, 1971), Sweet Movie (1974), Montenegro eller Paerlor och Svin (Montenegro, 1981), The Coca-Cola Kid (1985), Manifesto (1988), Gorila se kupa u podne (Gorilla Bathes at Noon, Germany, 1993), Rupa u dusi (A Hole in the Soul, 1994)

Regulating Sexuality In Early Cinema

Thomas Edison's (1847-1931) first ventures into motion pictures already included representations of sexuality. Hoping to woo viewers to his kinetoscope parlors, Edison's company made short film loops that had sexual appeal ''cooch'' dancers, pillow fights in a girls' dormitory, a close-up of an actor and actress in full embrace. Watching these loops through the kinetoscope created a ''peep show'' experience. While it seems these snippets were mainly aimed at arousing heterosexual men,...

Relationships And Gender

Screwball comedy is often confused with romantic comedy, but while the two genres share some elements, screwball comedy is a parody of romantic comedy. Romantic comedy's earnestness regarding love, as found in the impassioned conclusions of When Harry Met Sally (1989) and As Good As It Gets (1997), is entirely absent from screwball comedy. Such sentiments would immediately be subject to satirical rebuke. For example, in the screwball What's Up, Doc , the traditional love interest (Madeline...

Remakes

A remake is generally thought of as a film based on an earlier film, usually with minor or major variations of plot, characterization, casting, setting, or form, and sometimes language and genre as well. Examples include Scarlet Street (1943), Fritz Lang's Hollywood remake of Jean Renoir's French film, La Chienne (1931) In the Good Old Summertime (1949), a musical remake in color of The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Chori, Chori (1956), an Indian remake of It Happened One Night (1934) The...

Remediation And Synergy

Where games do borrow from cinema, this is for reasons that are far from arbitrary. ''New'' media tends to borrow from older equivalents more generally, as suggested by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin's concept of ''remediation.'' As they argue, the experience of playing computer games that offer cinematic milieu might be understood in terms of a move ''inside'' the world of the cinema screen. The immediate thrill produced by direct engagement in the interactive experience is often based on...

Renie Clair b Paris France November d March

Ren Clair epitomized the ambiguous relationship many filmmakers had with sound in the transition-to-sound period between 1928 and 1933. Whereas others like Ernst Lubitsch, Jean Vigo, and Rouben Mamoulian pushed the boundaries of the new technology, experimenting in a variety of styles, Clair initially stood among those who believed that sound would constrain the possibilities of film as a visual medium. He was hesitant to embrace sound because it increased production costs and because the...

Resistance To Hollywood

Although American films enjoyed unchallenged success in the domestic market and dominated abroad, other nations made their mark by offering a distinctive alternative to classicism. Though quite different in their approaches to establishing unique forms of cinematic expression, Germany, France, and the USSR each forged national film movements during the 1920s, resulting in a body of idiosyncratic films that could lay claim to the status of art. These countries made conventional films in...

Revolutionary Period

When the new Bolshevik regime began to organize its own governmental agencies in early 1918, the leadership took stock of the nation's extant cinema resources in the hope the medium could serve as an instrument of political persuasion. Authority for cinema affairs was assigned to the Commissariat of Education and its energetic head, Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky (who served in that post from 1917 to 1929) who found the Russian film industry had plunged into recession. Movie theaters closed...

Robert Altman b Kansas City Missouri February

Robert Altman started as a writer and director for the Calvin Company, where he made over sixty short industrial films. His first feature, The Delinquents (1957), soon caught Alfred Hitchcock's attention and Altman went to direct several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He continued to work on TV throughout the 1960s, directing episodes of numerous series. Altman pushed the boundaries of film sound in the 1970s to create polyphonic narratives where cause-and-effect logic is often...

Samuel Fuller b Worcester Massachusetts August d October

Samuel Fuller is a key figure in the history of the American war film because his movies are shaped by his own experience in combat. Fuller became a crime reporter by the age of seventeen and moved to Hollywood to begin writing screenplays in 1936. He joined the army after World War II broke out, serving in the Sixteenth Regiment of the First Army Division (''the Big Red One''), receiving the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. Fuller fought the full European war, from the...

Science Fiction

Believing that films were strictly for entertainment, Golden Age film producer Sam Goldywn is reputed to have said, ''If you want to send a message, use Western Union.'' Notwithstanding a handful of so-called social problem films, Hollywood films do tend more toward the innocuous than the politically confrontational. Science fiction films, though, are often notable for their idea-driven narratives social commentary, although not always profound, is a frequent element of sci-fi. It is not...

Science Fiction Goes Big Budget

In THX 1138, a gently amplified female voice tells the tranquilized population to ''buy now, buy more.'' Lucas's tepid critique of capitalism is ironic, of course, since a few years later he would reinvent toy licensing, famously taking a salary cut in exchange for the merchandising rights for Star Wars. Star Wars was an innocuous film with no well-known actors and an inflated special effects budget a film doomed to fail, most people reasoned, because everyone knew that science fiction was only...

Selfregulating Sexuality In Hollywood

Sex did not disappear from Hollywood cinema in the wake of the 1915 Supreme Court ruling, as vamps, pansies, and racial minorities lusting for white partners roamed the screens even if the narratives framed them as wicked or ridiculous. As well, various sex scandals erupted around a number of Hollywood stars in the early 1920s. Hollywood gained an image of wild parties and scandalous affairs, and studio motion pictures generally championed the growing sexual liberation of the post-Victorian...

Semiotics

The terms semiology and semiotics are frequently used interchangeably by academics and film theorists. Broadly speaking, both terms refer to the study of signs and language systems, though the term semiology owes its provenance to the work of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and semiotics to the American philosopher Charles Peirce (1839-1914). This is a deceptively simple definition of semiology, which in fact encompasses a wide range of academic debates and positions. Semiology is a...

Sequels Series And Remakes

Sequels, series, serials, and remakes are evidence of the commercial imperatives governing most forms of cinema. Producers, directors, and writers have often been under pressure to recycle popular formats, formulas, and themes as a way to minimize risk and ensure profitability. Sequels, series, and remakes also reflect the tendency of most forms of entertainment and art to engage in repetition or variations on a theme. Artistic patterns can be found in all genres trilogies, suites, triptychs,...

Series

Series are generally defined as groups of films with self-contained stories that share the same principal character or characters and often the same situations and settings. Series may be conceived as such from the outset, as was the case with The Hazards of Helen (119 episodes from 1914 to 1917), or, as in the case of the James Bond (over 20 films from 1962 to the present) and Halloween (8 films between 1978 and 2002) films, they may emerge, evolve, or become institutionalized over the course...

Sexuality Beyond The United States And Western Europe

The development of film industries in areas outside the United States and western Europe also had to negotiate representations of sexuality. For example, in many nations where the Catholic Church held a powerful presence, such as some Latin American countries, there was a strong pressure on filmmakers to keep their representations of sexual desire within the bounds of religious doctrine. It is also important to recognize that filmic depictions of sexuality in these regions differed from motion...

Sidney Lumet b Philadelphia Pennsylvania March

Sidney Lumet's career began at an extraordinary and unique moment in the history of American television. For a few years during the first decade of television, the TV networks broadcast live theatrical performances from studios in New York and Los Angeles to a vast audience nationwide. These ephemeral productions as immediate and fleeting as any witnessed in the amphitheaters of ancient Greece, yet staged in the blinding glare of commercial television served as the training ground for a...

Silent And Precode Romantic Comedy

Filmic romantic comedy in the United States derived most directly from the stage. While higher forms of comedy were produced on stage before 1915, theatrical comedy was dominated by vaudeville, minstrel shows, and musical reviews. Vaudeville and other forms of ''low'' comedy were the first to influence film, and this influence accounts for the bulk of silent film comedy. Farce typically deals with characters who are or have previously been married, and it derives its humor by calling attention...