The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

onwards. This film especially captured the haunting sense of a culturally and politically marginalized urban milieu which is under constant surveillance by the state.

The impossibility of escape, the fragile nature of intrablack community relations, were also prominent themes in Mario Van Peebles's violent urban crime drama New Jack City ( 1991) and Matty Rich's Straight out of Brooklyn ( 1991), which was particularly about the desire to escape. The ironic point about these contemporary African-American urban dramas, however, is that they suggest the total collapse of liberal integrationism, in which the black cinematic subject has been reinvented and reenslaved within the segregated confines of a strange, exotic, sometimes dangerous 'otherness'. After 100 years of American cinema, black representation remains an acutely unresolved problem.


Bogle, Donald ( 1989), Blacks in American Films and Television.

Cripps, Thomas ( 1977), Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900-1942.

Klotman, Phyllis Rauch ( 1979), Frame by Frame: A Black Filmography.

Leab, Daniel J. ( 1975), From Sambo to Superspade: The Black Experience in Motion Pictures.

Nesteby, James R. ( 1982), Black Images in American Films, 1896-1954.

Pines, Jim ( 1975), Blacks in Films.

Sampson, Henry T. ( 1977), Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films.

Exploitation and the Mainstream


Post- 1980 time travel films like The Philadelphia Experiment ( 1984) and Back to the Future ( 1985) are obliged to feature the gag in which a disbelieving inhabitant of a naive past discovers that Ronald Reagan is in the White House. 'And who's Secretary of the Treasury,' Christopher Lloyd asks Michael J. Fox, 'Jack Benny?' The joke, persisting well after the Reagan presidency in Late for Dinner ( 1990), comes from an awareness that a film-goer of the 1940s or 1950s would be unable to conceive of a future in which a second-string movie star is President. Though the New Hollywood is increasingly self-aware, as witness the inside approaches of The Player ( 1992) or Last Action Hero ( 1993), no time travel film dares suggest that a 1940s film-goer warped into any year after 1977 would find it ridiculous that Star Wars ( 1977, derived from Flash Gordon), Superman ( 1978), Raiders of the Lost Ark ( 1981), or Dick Tracy ( 1990) were big-budget, A-ticket movies. The originals of these properties were despised, marginalized efforts, creeping out of 'poverty row', playing to children at Saturday matinees. As a new generation of baby-boom executives take control of the product, time-travellers from the 1960s would now face he spectacle of a future in which the throwaway media of their own time has been reincarnated in major studio reruns of Batman ( 1989), The Addams Family ( 1991), The Fugitive ( 1992), and Maverick ( 1994). In the 1950s and 1960s, changes were made which radically affected the shape of mainstream American cinema.

David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer would never have considered making the films which constitute Variety's current box-office top ten, though they would have understood Gandhi ( 1982) if Paul Muni had been available. Even if Beverly Hills Cop ( 1984) or Ghostbusters ( 1983) had been green-lighted in the golden age of Hollywood, they would have been double-bill fillers with Abbott and Costello or the Bowery Boys. Old-style studio heads recognized this sort of product as necessary, but never dreamt it merited the big stars, lavish productions, major effects, or mammoth promotional budgets afforded 'important' motion pictures like Marie Antoinette ( 1938) or The Best Years of Our Lives ( 1946). The attitude was universal; in the last years of her life, actress Gale Sondegaard was staggered that her Oscar-winning work on Anthony Adverse ( 1936) was less remembered than her villainy in the Sherlock Holmes quickie The Spider Woman ( 1944). In the 1930s and 1940s, there were few A-feature Westerns, horror films, urban crime stories, or sex melodramas; these genres throve at the mini-majors or the 'poverty row' independents. Beyond Hollywood were such murky fringes as the allblack 'race' film industry (Son of Ingagi, 1938), or supposedly 'educational' films shown on the carnival circuit (Reefer Madness, 1936), which produced a flow of films shown outside the majors' distribution channels.

In the 1950s, as the industrial structure of Hollywood changed, so did the cinema itself. The studios were forced to divest themselves of their theatre chains, vastly increasing the risk involved in any given production. The establishment of alternative systems of distributing foreign, art, or pornographic movies made available a wider range of cinema, especially to an impressionable college generation who would become film-makers themselves. The peak audiences of the war years subsided as television became the primary entertainment medium, and the New York-based TV industry began to create its own stars, genres, and monopolies. The family pattern of cinema


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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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