The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

Paramount case was actually of greater consequence. The PCA's effective power came from the major companies' agreement that they would not exhibit any movie that did not have a seal; thus PCA approval was vital to a movie's profitability in the American domestic market. The divorcement of exhibition from production and distribution that followed the Paramount decision meant that the PCA could no longer enforce exclusion. In 1950 independent distributor Joseph Burstyn refused to make two minor cuts in Bicycle Thieves ( 1948) to accommodate Breen's PCA, and the movie, Which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar that year, was exhibited in first-run theatres without a seal. Three years later, United Artists refused to modify Otto Preminger's comedy The Moon Is Blue ( 1953) as Breen demanded. It became the first major company production to be exhibited without a seal, and was the fifteenth-highest grossing movie of 1953.

The PCA's authority had depended on vertical integration and the majors' oligopoly. Without constitutional sanction, a market censorship as rigid as Breen had imposed was no longer viable. As movie attendance declined in the 1950s, production and exhibition strategies changed so that fewer movies were targeted at an undifferentiated audience. A new genre of 'adult' movies emerged, often adapted from bestsellers and drawing audiences by their sensational treatment of serious social subject-matter that television would not handle. Movies such as The Man with the Golden Arm ( 1955) and Baby Doll ( 1956) led to revisions in the Production Code in 1954 and 1956, after which 'mature' subjects such as prostitution, drug addiction, and miscegenation could be shown if 'treated within the limits of good taste'. Concerns about the cinema's influence on behaviour persisted, however; one source of anxiety being the treatment of juvenile delinquency in movies like The Wild One ( 1953) and Blackboard Jungle ( 1955).

In 1954 Joe Breen retired as director of the PCA. He was replaced by his long-serving deputy, Geoffrey Shurlock, who would oversee the increasing liberalization of Code procedures and practices. Under Breen, the PCA had been among the most powerful influences on Hollywood production for more than twenty years, and although his personal control over the PCA's standards has often been exaggerated, the classical Hollywood of the studio system would have been unrecognizable without the determining market censorship the PCA exercised.


Hunnings, Neville March ( 1967), Film Censors and the Law.

Jacobs, Lea ( 1991), The Wages of Sin.

Koppes, Clayton R., and Black, Gregory D. ( 1987), Hollywood Goes to War.

Leff, Leonard J., and Simmons, Jerold L. ( 1990), The Dame in the Kimono.

Maltby, Richard ( 1993), "The Production Code and the Hays Office".

Moley, Raymond ( 1945), The Hays Office.

The Sound of Music


The history of music for sound films falls into two distinct periods: the first extending from 1925 to 1960, the second from 1960 to the present. In terms of style, there are great differences between them, owing to changing personnel, aesthetic goals, economic conditions, and production techniques. If the division is somewhat arbitrary, it does reflect the fact that certain approaches to film-scoring were consistently followed from the 1930s to the 1950s, only to be challenged and replaced by more 'modern' practices from the 1960s to the 1980s. Moreover, within the earlier period one finds three linked phases of development: wide-ranging experiment in the late 1920s and early 1930s, stylistic and technological standardization from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s, and, in the decade and a half that followed, a steady broadening of film music's functional and expressive potential.


In the beginning was not the word but music, and initially it seemed as if feature sound films would be little different from silents, save for their fixed, synchronized accompaniments. The earliest example, Warner Bros.' Don Juan ( 1926), was given an orchestral score by two experienced hands, William Axt and David Mendoza of the Capitol Theater in New York, and like their previous scores this one was a compilation, intermixed with some original music. What set it apart was that it was recorded (in performance by the New York Philharmonic under Henry Hadley) and played back on discs coupled to projectors by means of the 'Vitaphone' process. Moreover, in place of the customary live performances that often preceded the presentation of important films, this première included a onehour programme of Vitaphone shorts, plus a brief filmed


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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