What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic / Edition 1

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Lively and highly readable, What Made Pistachio Nuts? examines what Henry Jenkins calls the anarchistic tradition of American film comedy. Anarchistic comedies of the 1930s mock the social order and celebrate the creativity and impulsiveness of their protagonists in a form of clowning that ultimately reestablishes the status quo.

Jenkins focuses on well-known films such as the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup and W.C. Fields' It's a Gift, as well as all-but-forgotten works like Diplomaniacs,Hollywood Party, So Long Lefty, and others. He tracks the careers of the comic stars -Eddie Cantor, Winnie LIghtner, W.C. Fields, Charlotte Greenwood, the Marx Brothers, and Wheeler and Woolsey- as they moved from vaudeville and the New York reviews to Hollywood.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Jenkins (film and media studies, MIT) examines a genre of comedy films produced early in the 1930s that centered around particular comedians, such as W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, and Burns and Allen. He shows how the zany antics of vaudeville combined with the conventions of classical film narrative to celebrate the collapse of the social order. Illustrated with stills. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231078559
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 12/22/1992
  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Jenkins is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at MIT. He is author of Textual Poachers:Television Fans and Participatory Culture. He is coauthor of The Science Fiction Audience: Dr.Who, Star Trek, and Their Fans.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1 The Strange Case of the Backflipping Senators 1
2 "How Is It Possible for a Civilized Man to Live Among People Who Are Always Joking?" Class, Comedy, and Cultural Change in Turn-of-the-Century America 26
3 "A Regular Mine, a Reservoir, a Proving Ground": Reconstructing the Vaudeville Aesthetic 59
4 "Assorted Lunacy ... with No Beginning and No End": Gag, Performance, and Narrative in Early Sound Comedy 96
5 "A High-Class Job of Carpentry": Toward a Typography of Early Sound Comedy 127
6 "Shall We Make It for New York or for Distribution?" Eddie Cantor, Whoopee, and Regional Resistance to the Talkies 153
7 "Fifi Was My Mother's Name!" Anarchistic Comedy, the Vaudeville Aesthetic, and Diplomaniacs 185
8 "If the Whole World Were Created for Our Pleasure": Order and Disorder in Anarchistic Comedy 214
9 "Don't Become Too Intimate with That Terrible Woman!" Unruly Wives, Female Performance, and Gendered Laughter in Early Sound Comedy 245
Conclusion: The Return of the Backflipping Senators 277
Notes 285
Index 325
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