Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen

Overview

An Armenian national raised in Russia, Rouben Mamoulian (1897--1987) studied in the influential Stanislavski studio, renowned as the source of the "method" acting technique. Shortly after immigrating to New York in 1926, he created a sensation with an all-black production of Porgy (1927). He then went on to direct the debut Broadway productions of three of the most popular shows in the history of American musical theater: Porgy and Bess (1935), Oklahoma! (1943), and Carousel (1945). Mamoulian began working in ...

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Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen

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Overview

An Armenian national raised in Russia, Rouben Mamoulian (1897--1987) studied in the influential Stanislavski studio, renowned as the source of the "method" acting technique. Shortly after immigrating to New York in 1926, he created a sensation with an all-black production of Porgy (1927). He then went on to direct the debut Broadway productions of three of the most popular shows in the history of American musical theater: Porgy and Bess (1935), Oklahoma! (1943), and Carousel (1945). Mamoulian began working in film just as the sound revolution was dramatically changing the technical capabilities of the medium, and he quickly established himself as an innovator. Not only did many of his unusual camera techniques become standard, but he also invented a device that eliminated the background noises created by cameras and dollies. Seen as a rebel earlier in his career, Mamoulian gradually gained respect in Hollywood, and the Directors Guild of America awarded him the prestigious D. W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1983.

In this meticulously researched biography, David Luhrssen paints the influential director as a socially conscious artist who sought to successfully combine art and commercial entertainment. Luhrssen not only reveals the fascinating personal story of an important yet neglected figure, but he also offers a tantalizing glimpse into the extraordinarily vibrant American film and theater industries during the twenties, thirties, and forties.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

" Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen, by David Luhrssen paints the influential stage and film director as a socially conscious artist who sought to successfully combine art and commercial entertainment -- which he did." -- Thomas Gladysz, Huffington Post

"Luhrssen's Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen provides an in-depth consideration of Mamoulian's remarkable contributions to stage and screen." -- Film Threat

"Luhrssen not only reveals the fascinating personal story of an important yet neglected figure, but he also offers a tantalizing glimpse into the extraordinary vibrant American film and theater industries during the twenties, thirties, and fortires." -- Yerevan Magazine

"Luhrssen's book is written with passion and benefits from meticulous research. Despite the widely respected erudition of its subject its style is modest and accessible so curious newcomers to the subject should not feel deterred from giving it a try.... It is highly recommended." -- Eye For Film

"Today, one sees both worlds anew while watching Mamoulian's movies--and while reading Luhrssen's vivid, sensitive account of the magnificent mind that dreamed those worlds into being." -- Shepherd Express

"Much thanks and gratitude goes out for Luhrssen on bringing forth Mamoulian's contributions in Hollywood to the 21st century. Without this text, neither I nor many of my contemporaries would be able to appreciate Mamoulian's work." -- S. Danielle Galian

" Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen by David Luhrssen. Biography by Mamoulian arts and entertainment editor and longtime film critic gives an overdue spotlight to Rouben Mamoulian, who as a director shaped some of Broadway and Hollywood's most notable achievements from the 1920s through the '50s, including Applause (1929), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932), Becky Sharp (1935), Queen Christina (1935), The Mark of Zorro (1940), Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945)." -- The Sunday Journal Sentinel

Library Journal
Director Rouben Mamoulian doesn’t have wide name recognition, but his influence lives on in classics such as stage versions of Porgy and Bess and Oklahoma! and the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Fredric March. Mamoulian, born in Armenia and raised in relative privilege in Russia, came to America via London and eventually became a naturalized citizen. His fledgling directorial efforts were strongly influenced by Stanislavsky, and from the 1920s to the late 1950s he applied his innovative ideas on Broadway and in Hollywood to both critical acclaim and disdain. Educated and urbane, Mamoulian was in most cases more interested in artistry than stardom. Luhrssen (film critic, Shepherd Express, Milwaukee; Hammer of the Gods: The Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism) hedges some of his conclusions with words like possible, might, claimed, thought, perhaps, and “by some accounts”—a pattern than can become tiring. However, as Mamoulian generally stayed out of the press, it may be that ironclad statements are difficult to substantiate.

Verdict For readers interested in knowing more about neglected filmmakers, this chronological analysis of Mamoulian’s cinematic and stage contributions will be a good fit.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813136769
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 12/27/2012
  • Series: Screen Classics Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Luhrssen is the arts and entertainment editor and film critic for the Shepherd Express and cofounder and director of the Milwaukee International Film Festival. He is the author of Hammer of the Gods: Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism and Elvis Presley: Reluctant Rebel.

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