American Independent Cinema: An Introduction

Synopsis

This introduction to American Independent Cinema offers both a comprehensive industrial and economic history of the sector from the early twentieth century to the present and a study of key individual films, filmmakers and film companies. Readers will develop an understanding of the complex dynamic relations between independent and mainstream American cinema. The main argument revolves around the idea that independent American cinema has developed alongside mainstream Hollywood cinema with institutional, industrial and economic changes in the latter shaping and informing the former. Consequently the term 'independent' has acquired different meanings at different points in the history of Hollywood cinema, evolving according to the impact of changing conditions in the American film industry. These various meanings are examined in the course of the book. The book is ordered chronologically, beginning with Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era (examining both top-rank and low-end independent film production), moving to the 1950s and 1960s (discussing both the adoption of independent filmmaking as the main method of production as well as exploitation filmmaking) and finishing with contemporary American Independent cinema (exploring areas such as the New Hollywood, the rise of mini-major and major independent companies and the institutionalisation of independent cinema in the 1990s). Each chapter includes case studies which focus on specific films and/or filmmakers, while independent production and distribution companies are also discussed in the text. Films, filmmakers and film companies examined include:
• Cagney Productions and Johnny Come Lately, Blood on the Sun and The Time of Your Life
• The Charlie Chan series
• Lomitas Productions, Stanley Kramer and The Defiant Ones, On the Beach and Inherit the Wind
• Sam Katzman and Rock Around the Clock
• Roger Corman and The Wild Angels
• John Cassavetes and