Showman of the Screen: Joseph E. Levine and His Revolutions in Film Promotion

Showman of the Screen: Joseph E. Levine and His Revolutions in Film Promotion

by A. T. McKenna


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Short, immaculately dressed, and shockingly foul-mouthed, Joseph E. Levine (1905—1987) was larger than life. He rose from poverty in Boston's West End to become one of postwar Hollywood's most prolific independent promoters, distributors, and producers. Alternately respected and reviled, this master of movie promotion was responsible for bringing films as varied as Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956), Hercules (1958), The Graduate (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and A Bridge Too Far (1977) to American audiences .

In the first biography of this controversial pioneer, A. T. McKenna traces Levine's rise as an influential packager of popular culture. He explores the mogul's pivotal role in many significant industry innovations from the 1950s to the 1970s, examining his use of saturation release tactics and bombastic advertising campaigns. Levine was also a trailblazer in promoting European art house cinema in the 1960s. He made Federico Fellini's (1963) a hit in America, feuded with Jean-Luc Godard over their production of Contempt (1963), and campaigned aggressively for Sophia Loren to become the first actress to win an Oscar for a foreign language performance for her role in Two Women (1960).

Despite his significant accomplishments and prominent role in shaping film distribution and promotion in the post-studio era, Levine is largely overlooked today. McKenna's in-depth biography corrects misunderstandings and misinformation about this colorful figure, and offers a sober assessment of his contributions to world cinema. It also illuminates Levine's peculiar talent for movie- and self-promotion, as well as his extraordinary career in the motion picture business.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813168715
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Series: Screen Classics
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

A.T. McKenna is associate professor of film history at USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry. He is the coauthor of The Man Who Got Carter: Michael Klinger, Independent Production and the British Film Industry 1960-1980, which received the 2015 Best Book Award from the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS). He is also coeditor of Beyond the Bottom Line: The Producer in Film and Television Studies.

Table of Contents

Prologue: An Unfettered Hustler
Barefoot Boston Boy Becomes Movie Man
Investing, Exploiting, Saturating
Monsters and Man-Gods
The Flim-Flam Man
The Showman in the Art House
The Showman on the Screen
Bad Taste in Hollywood
Hollywood Undermined
The Scattergun Approach
Graduating Class
Selling Up and Winning Trophies
A Corporate Gadabout
New Haven, 'Nam, Nichols, and Nazis
Joe's Baby
Leaving the Exploitation Business
A Peculiar Talent

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