Americanizing the Movies and "Movie-Mad" Audiences, 1910-1914 / Edition 1

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This engaging, deeply researched study provides the richest and most nuanced picture we have to date of cinema—both movies and movie-going—in the early 1910s. At the same time, it makes clear the profound relationship between early cinema and the construction of a national identity in this important transitional period in the United States. Richard Abel looks closely at sensational melodramas, including westerns (cowboy, cowboy-girl, and
Indian pictures), Civil War films (especially girl-spy films), detective films, and animal pictures—all popular genres of the day that have received little critical attention. He simultaneously analyzes film distribution and exhibition practices in order to reconstruct a context for understanding moviegoing at a time when American cities were coming to grips with new groups of immigrants and women working outside the home. Drawing from a wealth of research in archive prints, the trade press, fan magazines, newspaper advertising, reviews, and syndicated columns—the latter of which highlight the importance of the emerging star system—Abel sheds new light on the history of the film industry, on working-class and immigrant culture at the turn of the century, and on the process of imaging a national community.

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Editorial Reviews

Film Quarterly - Gregory A. Waller
“An especially notable achievement.”
Film International
“A wealth of exceptional information.”
Journal Of The Gilded Age And Progressive Era
“[Conveys] a sense of the excitement that fans of the era experienced.”
Nineteenth Century Theatre & Film - Paul S. Moore
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520247420
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Abel is the Robert Altman Collegiate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American (UC Press), and The Ciné Goes to Town (UC Press), among other books.

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Table of Contents

"L'Envoi of moving pictures" 1
"Signs of the times" 11
Ch. 1 American variety and/or foreign features : the throes of film distribution 13
Document : "the backbone of the business" 40
"The power of a nickel" 43
Entr'acte 1 Mapping the local terrain of exhibition 45
Document : "moving pictures and their audiences" 55
"My picture girl" 59
Ch. 2 The "usable past" of westerns : cowboy, cowboy girl, and Indian pictures, part 1 61
Document : "the 'bison-101' headliners" 79
"Bein' usher in a motion picture show" 83
Entr'acte 2 Moviegoing habits and everyday life 85
Document : "some picture show audiences" 96
"The motion picture cowboy" 103
Ch. 3 The "usable past" of westerns : cowboy, cowboy girl, and Indian pictures, part 2 105
Document : "latest snapshots local and worldwide" 122
"In a minor chord" 125
Entr'acte 3 A "forgotten" part of the program : illustrated songs 127
Document : "unique effects in song slides" 135
"A Dixie mother" 139
Ch. 4 The "usable past" of Civil War films : the years of the "golden jubilee" 141
Document : "sundered ties" 165
Document : "feature films: the battle of Gettysburg" 166
"He's seen a lot" 169
Entr'acte 4 Another "forgotten" part of the program : nonfiction 171
Document : "reviews of special feature subjects" 181
"The maid of the movies" 183
Ch. 5 The "usable present" of thrillers : from the jungle to the city 185
Document : "advertising and criticising" 209
"The photoplayers" 213
Entr'acte 5 Trash twins : newspapers and moving pictures 215
Document : "moving picture sections" 226
"The M. P. girl" 229
Ch. 6 "The power of personality in pictures" : movie stars and "matinee girls" 231
Document : "personality a force in pictures" 252
Document : "'Miss Billie unafraid' - torn by a tiger but nervy as ever to act the most daring things ever seen on the stage! - heroine of movies" 254
Document : "sees the movies as great, new field for women folk" 255
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