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A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1980 / Edition 1

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Overview

Robert B. Ray examines the ideology of the most enduringly popular cinema in the world—the Hollywood movie. Aided by 364 frame enlargements, he describes the development of that historically overdetermined form, giving close readings of five typical instances: Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Godfather, and Taxi Driver. Like the heroes of these movies, American filmmaking has avoided commitment, in both plot and technique. Instead of choosing left or right, avant-garde or tradition, American cinema tries to have it both ways.

Although Hollywood's commercial success has led the world audience to equate the American cinema with film itself, Hollywood filmmaking is a particular strategy designed to respond to specific historical situations. As an art restricted in theoretical scope but rich in individual variations, the American cinema poses the most interesting question of popular culture: Do dissident forms have any chance of remaining free of a mass medium seeking to co-opt them?

Looks at the themes of popular mythology in American movies from the 30's to the 80's. Themes include adventure versus family values, glamour versus simplicity.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
An informative and stimulating book that explores our popular mythology through illuminating discussions of commercially successful films ranging from Casablanca to Taxi Driver.
From the Publisher
"An informative and stimulating book that explores our popular mythology through illuminating discussions of commercially successful films ranging from Casablanca to Taxi Driver."New York Times Book Review

New York Times Book Review
An informative and stimulating book that explores our popular mythology through illuminating discussions of commercially successful films ranging from Casablanca to Taxi Driver.
Library Journal
Ray's major theory is that all American films, no matter how different on the surface, are a result of the same Hollywood ``mythology.'' Therefore, none is truly original enough to be the product of an auteur. He demonstrates this by the discussion and comparison of films such as Casablanca , It's a Wonderful Life , and The Godfather. He makes extensive use of frame enlargements and, in some cases, their matching dialogue, to analyze the films closely. Ray quotes from many other film theories as well as expounding his own. His style is strong and interesting, but this is heavy going for all but the most devoted cineaste. For large cinema collections. Roy Liebman, California State Univ. Lib., Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691101743
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1985
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.04 (d)

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