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Best Years: Going to the Movies, 1945-1946

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Americans flocked to the movies in 1945 and 1946-a critical juncture in American history and American cinema and the central point of the three-decade heyday of the studio system's sound era. Best Years recaptures this transformative time through a rich blend of screen genres-from the battlefront to the home front, the peace film to the woman's film, psychological drama, and the period's provocative new style, film noir. In Atlanta and Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, Chicago and Honolulu, and small cities in between, the bond between screen and viewer was perhaps never tighter.

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Editorial Reviews

"This remarkable book documents a turning point in US cinema—a period when WW II was ending, soldiers were returning, recreational time was increasing as the war machine shut down, and moviegoing in the US was at its height. Meticulously researched and richly detailed, the book ties films to the fabric of American existence—to places, persons, and things—persuasively arguing that for many reasons, 1945-46 was one of the key periods in the history of cinema. Packed to the brim with rare illustrations, this book succeeds admirably on every level. For anyone interested in the films of this era, this is the book to read. Essential."
Jump Cut
"Best Years is a lucid and thought-provoking work that probes at some of Hollywood's most iconic films. The Affrons' work provides a comprehensive account of cinema's Golden Age that easily rivals any graduate-level film seminar."
author of Armed Forces: Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film - Robert Eberwein
"This outstanding book's overview of the role movies played at a key moment in the nation's history provides an invaluable and wonderfully readable resource for scholars, students, and everyone who loves the movies."
author of Hollywood on the Hudson - Richard Koszarski
"Just what was the movies' greatest year? Charles and Mirella Affron make a strong case for one moment, as World War II drew to a close, when Hollywood not only controlled the lion's share of the entertainment dollar, but spoke to a national audience from a position of financial stability and moral certainty. A fascinating guide to a season of movies, and movie culture, that today's fragmented audience can hardly imagine."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813545820
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Affron is professor emeritus of French at New York University. He is the author of
Lillian Gish: Her Legend and Life, coauthor of Sets in Motion: Art Direction and Film Narrative, and editor of 8+: Federico Fellini, Director (Rutgers University Press). Along with Mirella Jona Affron and Robert Lyons, he is a general editor of Films in Print and Depth of Field, both Rutgers University Press series.
 Mirella Jona Affron is a professor of cinema studies at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, where she was provost from 1995 to 2002, and at the Graduate Center/CUNY. She is the coauthor of Sets in Motion: Art Direction and Film Narrative and editor of The Last Metro: Frantois Truffaut, Director (both Rutgers University Press). Along with Charles Affron and Robert Lyons, she is a general editor of Films in Print and Depth of Field, both Rutgers University Press series.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Standing Room Only U.S.A., January 1, 1945-December 31, 1946 3

2 Over Here Detroit, February 10, 1945, Since You Went Away and The Very Thought of You 16

3 Nation Atlanta, April 12, 1945, Wilson 46

4 Over There Honolulu, June 26, 1945, Back to Bataan 86

5 Stars Los Angeles, November 22, 1945, Hollywood Canteen 114

6 Big Picture Boston, January 1, 1946, Forever Amber 142

7 Imports Philadelphia, April 25, 1946, and June 5, 1946, Open City 165

8 Homecoming Chicago, December 18, 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives 201

9 Continuous Showings New York City, January 1, 1945-December 31, 1946 239

Appendix A Boxoffice Rankings 289

Appendix B Star Rankings 297

Notes 299

Index 323

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