Magazine article The New Yorker

A Look Back at Hollywood

Magazine article The New Yorker

A Look Back at Hollywood

Article excerpt

During the late nineteen-forties, American audiences started to demand that what they were seeing onscreen look more like reality. Movies in the gritty, rushed style of newsreels, like Elia Kazan's "Boomerang" and Jules Dassin's "The Naked City," were suddenly hits. But, as James Harvey argues in MOVIE LOVE IN THE FIFTIES (Knopf), "if movies got franker, they also got dumber." As an antidote to these "semi-documentary" offerings, films like Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Welles's "Touch of Evil" preserved and aestheticized the more stylized sensibility of noir films, with their bewitching heroines and befuddled leading men.

One of those leading men was Robert Mitchum, who began as a stock villain in a Hopalong Cassidy Western and went on to make more than a hundred and ten films, including the classics "Night of the Hunter" and "Cape Fear." Lee Server's biography ROBERT MITCHUM: "BABY, I DON'T CARE" (St. …

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