American Racist: The Life and Films of Thomas Dixon

American Racist: The Life and Films of Thomas Dixon

by Anthony Slide
     
 

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Thomas Dixon has a notorious reputation as the writer of the source material for D.W. Griffith's groundbreaking and controversial 1915 feature film The Birth of a Nation. Perhaps unfairly, Dixon has been branded an arch-conservative and a racist obsessed with what he viewed as "the Negro problem." As American Racist makes clear, however, Dixon was a complex,

Overview

Thomas Dixon has a notorious reputation as the writer of the source material for D.W. Griffith's groundbreaking and controversial 1915 feature film The Birth of a Nation. Perhaps unfairly, Dixon has been branded an arch-conservative and a racist obsessed with what he viewed as "the Negro problem." As American Racist makes clear, however, Dixon was a complex, multitalented individual who, as well as writing some of the most popular novels of the early twentieth century, was involved in the production of some eighteen films. Dixon used the motion picture as a propaganda tool for his often outrageous opinions on race, communism, socialism, and feminism. His most spectacular production, The Fall of a Nation (1916), argues for American preparedness in the face of war and boasts a musical score by Victor Herbert, making it the first American feature film to have an original score by a major composer. Like the majority of Dixon's films, The Fall of a Nation has been lost, but had it survived, it might well have taken its place alongside The Birth of a Nation as a masterwork of silent film. Anthony Slide examines each of Dixon's films and discusses the novels from which they were adapted. Slide chronicles Dixon's transformation from a major supporter of the original Ku Klux Klan in his early novels to an ardent critic of the modern Klan in his last film, Nation Aflame. American Racist is the first book to discuss Dixon's work outside of literature and provide a wide overview of the life and career of this highly controversial twentieth-century southern populist. Anthony Slide is the author of numerous books, including Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In addition to detailed synopses of films, plays, and novels, Slide chronicles multiple aspects of the making of Dixon's films, including financing, casting, promotion, and reception. Slide also provides context that gives the reader a more nuanced understanding of the world in which Dixon wrote." — American Literature

"The most comprehensive account available of Dixon's relationship with motion pictures.... A timely reminder that the use of cinema to depict history or to openly express political views has a long and controversial legacy." — Bowling Green Daily News

"Slide writes in an easily readable style.... He seems to have warmed to his subject, yet he doesn't overstress Dixon's virtues or downplay his shortcomings." — Charlotte Observer

"A compelling, overlooked subject.... This book will be welcomed by scholars of race and silent cinema and by anyone interested in the intersection of politics and film." — Cineaste

"Students in film studies, American Literature, ethnic studies, and southern studies will find value in Slide's book." — Journal of American History

"It's a fascinating, renegade life, and Slide tells up as much of it as we are likely to know." — Palm Beach Post

"Slide has long had a reputation as one of the most productive and knowledgeable film historians outside the academy. American Racist, with its authoritative research and incisive commentary, will only affirm that standing." — Matthew H. Bernstein, Film Quarterly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813123288
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
09/28/2004
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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