Hollywood Lighting from the Silent Era to Film Noir

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Overview

Lighting performs essential functions in Hollywood films, enhancing the glamour, clarifying the action, and intensifying the mood. Examining every facet of this understated art form, from the glowing backlights of the silent period to the shaded alleys of film noir, Patrick Keating affirms the role of Hollywood lighting as a distinct, compositional force.

Closely analyzing Girl Shy (1924), Anna Karenina (1935), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), and T-Men (1947), along with other brilliant classics, Keating describes the unique problems posed by these films and the innovative ways cinematographers handled the challenge. Once dismissed as crank-turning laborers, these early cinematographers became skillful professional artists by carefully balancing the competing demands of story, studio, and star. Enhanced by more than one hundred illustrations, this volume counters the notion that style took a backseat to storytelling in Hollywood film, proving that the lighting practices of the studio era were anything but neutral, uniform, and invisible. Cinematographers were masters of multifunctionality and negotiation, honing their craft to achieve not only realistic fantasy but also pictorial artistry.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Film Quarterly - Karla Oeler

This book taught my students and me to watch films in a new way.

Choice

This readable book provides welcome profiles of eminent cinematographers... and valuable research on the American Society of Cinematographers... Highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review

Hollywood Lighting from the Silent Era to Film Noir should be considered essential reading by all film students and aspiring directors.

Choice

This readable book provides welcome profiles of eminent cinematographers... and valuable research on the American Society of Cinematographers... Highly recommended.

Film Quarterly
This book taught my students and me to watch films in a new way.

— Karla Oeler

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231149037
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2009
  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Keating is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Trinity University, where he teaches courses in film and media studies.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: The Rhetoric of LightPart I: Lighting in the Silent Period1. Mechanics or Artists?2. From the Portrait to the Close-Up3. The Drama of Light4. Organizing the ImagePart II: Classical Hollywood Lighting5. Inventing the Observer6. Conventions and Functions7. The Art of BalancePart III: Shifting Patterns of Shadow8. The Promises and Problems of Technicolor9. The Flow of the River10. Film Noir and the Limits of ClassicismConclusion: EpilogueNotes Index

Columbia University Press

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