Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

From Silver Screen to Spanish Stage: The Humorists of the Madrid 'Vanguardia' and Hollywood Film

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

From Silver Screen to Spanish Stage: The Humorists of the Madrid 'Vanguardia' and Hollywood Film

Article excerpt

Stuart Green, From Silver Screen to Spanish Stage: The Humorists of the Madrid 'Vanguardia' and Hollywood Film. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 2011. 216 pp. ISBN 978-0-7083-2343-4.

Stuart Green has written a highly readable account of a lively period in Spanish cultural history. Surprisingly neglected in Englishspeaking Hispanism, the art of the Madrid humorists is surveyed by Green, who considers the links between members of this group and Hollywood scriptwriters and directors, paying attention above all to the impact of the latter on film and dramatic theory and practice in Spain from the 1930s onwards. Along the way, key questions are raised about the overlaps and, especially, the disparities between film and drama. The book is thoroughly researched, assessing the art of the Spanish humorists - Tono, Edgar Neville, Jardiel Poncela, Rubio and Miguel Mihura - and their Hollywood contemporaries, prominent figures like Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks, who directed comic masterpieces like Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Bringing Up Baby (1938). Given their literary origins, the humorists praised highly the work of Hollywood scriptwriters, and sympathized with them over cavalier treatment by their Hollywood studio bosses. Green's love of Hollywood sometimes exceeds even the humorists', some of whom, like Enrique Jardiel Poncela, occasionally failed to overlook its flaws.

Green's highlighting of the humorists' Hollywood-inspired adaptation of cinematic form is matched by illuminating passages on film theory. He is as comfortable in handling, say, theories of narrative as in raiding archives for factual information. As regards the former, a wealth of detail is provided both on the formal strategies adopted by the humorists and on their celebration of some of the key Hollywood stars of the 1930s. …

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