Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America / Edition 1

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Overview

"Steve Ross has written an absorbing and important book about a time when working-class life and working-class filmmakers occupied a central place in American cinema. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in the politics of American film read this book."—Michael Moore, Director of Roger and Me and TV Nation

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
One of the satisfactions in reading Working-Class Hollywood is that the author is as happily polemical as his subjects and not afraid to take sides. This gives his impressively researched and annotated book a scrappy, personal tone that is refreshing to find in a work of such academic weight.
Vancouver Sun
A breakthrough volume in terms of American film history.
Journal of American History
Working-Class Hollywood is ... a meticulous and beautifully accomplished re-creation of the lost world of labor and radical films.... No one reading this masterly new study can look at nearly a century of movie making in quite the same way again.
American Historical Review
Working-class Hollywood, Steven J. Ross has gone a long way to show, is an oxymoron. Ross has uncovered a lively scene of decentralized, diversified production in the early motion picture business.
— Michael Rogin
Reviews in American History
A vividly written chronicle of multi-faceted struggles over the meaning of class in American life as they took shape in silent film. . . . By analyzing the range of perspectives on class in early feature films, Ross provides a nuanced picture of the ways class issues and class relations were defined for movie audiences. . . . [A] rich, well-researched monograph . . . [and a] provocative and informative book.
— Kathryn J. Oberdeck
Washington Post Book World
Steeped in labor and class history, sweetened by a perceptive moviegoer's parsing of onscreen images, Working-Class Hollywood is a fascinating study of how movies make us.
Labour History Review
Steven J. Ross has an important story to tell, and he tells it with great passion and conviction.
— Peter Kråmer
The Nation
A rigorously researched and refreshingly accessible book.
Modernism/Modernity
Steven J. Ross spent a decade laboring on Working-Class Hollywood, and it shows on every page. It is a phenomenally well-researched study . . . And yet is highly readable, without a hint of droning pedantry.
— Ben Singer
American Historical Review - Michael Rogin
Working-class Hollywood, Steven J. Ross has gone a long way to show, is an oxymoron. Ross has uncovered a lively scene of decentralized, diversified production in the early motion picture business.
Reviews in American History - Kathryn J. Oberdeck
A vividly written chronicle of multi-faceted struggles over the meaning of class in American life as they took shape in silent film. . . . By analyzing the range of perspectives on class in early feature films, Ross provides a nuanced picture of the ways class issues and class relations were defined for movie audiences. . . . [A] rich, well-researched monograph . . . [and a] provocative and informative book.
Modernism/Modernity - Ben Singer
Steven J. Ross spent a decade laboring on Working-Class Hollywood, and it shows on every page. It is a phenomenally well-researched study . . . And yet is highly readable, without a hint of droning pedantry.
Labour History Review - Peter Kramer
Steven J. Ross has an important story to tell, and he tells it with great passion and conviction.
Labour History Review - Peter Kråmer
Steven J. Ross has an important story to tell, and he tells it with great passion and conviction.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1999 Book Award, Theatre Library Association

One of Los Angeles Times's Best Nonfiction Books for 1998

"One of the satisfactions in reading Working-Class Hollywood is that the author is as happily polemical as his subjects and not afraid to take sides. This gives his impressively researched and annotated book a scrappy, personal tone that is refreshing to find in a work of such academic weight."—Los Angeles Times

"A breakthrough volume in terms of American film history."—Vancouver Sun

"A rigorously researched and refreshingly accessible book."—The Nation

"Working-Class Hollywood is ... a meticulous and beautifully accomplished re-creation of the lost world of labor and radical films.... No one reading this masterly new study can look at nearly a century of movie making in quite the same way again."—Journal of American History

"Working-class Hollywood, Steven J. Ross has gone a long way to show, is an oxymoron. Ross has uncovered a lively scene of decentralized, diversified production in the early motion picture business."—Michael Rogin, American Historical Review

"A vividly written chronicle of multi-faceted struggles over the meaning of class in American life as they took shape in silent film. . . . By analyzing the range of perspectives on class in early feature films, Ross provides a nuanced picture of the ways class issues and class relations were defined for movie audiences. . . . [A] rich, well-researched monograph . . . [and a] provocative and informative book."—Kathryn J. Oberdeck, Reviews in American History

"An impassioned celebration of a movement that depicted social issues at the birth of the big screen. . . . A valuable addition to cinema history. . . . "—Kirkus Review

"Steeped in labor and class history, sweetened by a perceptive moviegoer's parsing of onscreen images, Working-Class Hollywood is a fascinating study of how movies make us."—Washington Post Book World

"Steven J. Ross spent a decade laboring on Working-Class Hollywood, and it shows on every page. It is a phenomenally well-researched study . . . And yet is highly readable, without a hint of droning pedantry."—Ben Singer, Modernism/Modernity
"Steven J. Ross has an important story to tell, and he tells it with great passion and conviction."—Peter Kråmer, Labour History Review

Washington Post Book World
Steeped in labor and class history, sweetened by a perceptive moviegoer's parsing of onscreen images, Working-Class Hollywood is a fascinating study of how movies make us.
Journal of American History
Working-Class Hollywood is ... a meticulous and beautifully accomplished re-creation of the lost world of labor and radical films.... No one reading this masterly new study can look at nearly a century of movie making in quite the same way again.
Labour History Review
Steven J. Ross has an important story to tell, and he tells it with great passion and conviction.
— Peter Kramer
Modernism/Modernity
Steven J. Ross spent a decade laboring on Working-Class Hollywood, and it shows on every page. It is a phenomenally well-researched study . . . And yet is highly readable, without a hint of droning pedantry.
— Ben Singer
Walter Bernstein
Steven J. Ross shows in his dense and valuable book, Working-Class Hollywood, that in the early part of this century, class consciousness as well as class conflict were very much on the American mind and were expressed often and vehemently in the movies. But Ross is a sociologist as much as an historian, and shines a provocative cultural light on the period. One of the satisfactions in reading Working-Class Hollywood is that the author is as happily polemical as his subjects and not afraid to take sides. This gives his impressively researched and annotated book a scrappy, personal tone that is refreshing to find in a work of such academic weight.
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review "The Best of Non-Fiction of 1998"
Library Journal
Ross (history, Univ. of Southern California) offers a thought-provoking examination of silent film and its social reverberations. This medium provided the earliest, cheapest, and most far-reaching form of entertainment to capture the public, frequently portraying working-class life with truth and empathy. These productions made definite statements about labor and politics while vigorously defining class issues and strugglesa potent combination during any era. The resulting government and corporate disdain created pressure, but the vast potential for profit was quickly perceived as well. Soon, the studio system took hold with its far softer approach to content. This work abounds in solid information on films, events, trends, historical details, and people along with intelligent analyses of the changing perceptions of class that were partially shaped by these early cinematic ventures. -- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, New Jersey
Library Journal
Ross (history, Univ. of Southern California) offers a thought-provoking examination of silent film and its social reverberations. This medium provided the earliest, cheapest, and most far-reaching form of entertainment to capture the public, frequently portraying working-class life with truth and empathy. These productions made definite statements about labor and politics while vigorously defining class issues and strugglesa potent combination during any era. The resulting government and corporate disdain created pressure, but the vast potential for profit was quickly perceived as well. Soon, the studio system took hold with its far softer approach to content. This work abounds in solid information on films, events, trends, historical details, and people along with intelligent analyses of the changing perceptions of class that were partially shaped by these early cinematic ventures. -- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, New Jersey
Vancouver Sun
A breakthrough volume in terms of American film history.
The Nation
A rigorously researched and refreshingly accessible book.
Michael Rogin
Working-class Hollywood, Steven J. Ross has gone a long way to show, is an oxymoron. Ross has uncovered a lively scene of decentralized, diversified production in the early motion picture business.—American Historical Review
Kathryn J. Oberdeck
A vividly written chronicle of multi-faceted struggles over the meaning of class in American life as they took shape in silent film. . . . By analyzing the range of perspectives on class in early feature films, Ross provides a nuanced picture of the ways class issues and class relations were defined for movie audiences. . . . [A] rich, well-researched monograph . . . [and a] provocative and informative book.—Reviews in American History
Washington Post Book World
Steeped in labor and class history, sweetened by a perceptive moviegoer's parsing of onscreen images, Working-Class Hollywood is a fascinating study of how movies make us.
Journal of American History
[ A ] meticulous and beautifully accomplished re-creation of the lost world of labor and radical films.... No one reading this masterly new study can look at nearly a century of movie making in quite the same way again.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691024646
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,166,720
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. I The Rise of the Movies: Political Filmmaking and the Working Class 1
Introduction 3
1 Going to the Movies: Leisure, Class, and Danger in the Early Twentieth Century 11
2 Visualizing the Working Class: Cinema and Politics before Hollywood 34
3 The Good, the Bad, and the Violent: Class Conflict and the Labor-Capital Genre 56
4 Making a Pleasure of Agitation: The Rise of the Worker Film Movement 86
Pt. II The Rise of Hollywood: From Working Class to Middle Class 113
5 When Russia Invaded America: Hollywood, War, and the Movies 115
6 Struggles for the Screen: The Revival of the Worker Film Movement 143
7 Fantasy and Politics: Moviegoing and Movies in the 1920s 173
8 Lights Out: The Decline of Labor Filmmaking and the Triumph of Hollywood 212
Epilogue: The Movies Talk But What Do They Say? 240
Select Filmography 259
Sources and Methods for Writing Film History 263
Abbreviations 277
Notes 279
Index 353
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