The Call of the Heart: John M. Stahl and Hollywood Melodrama

The Call of the Heart: John M. Stahl and Hollywood Melodrama


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The profusion of research on film history means that there are now few Hollywood filmmakers in the category of Neglected Master; John M Stahl (1886–1950) has been stuck in it for far too long. His strong association with melodrama and the womans film is a key to this neglect; those mainstays of popular cinema are no longer the object of critical scorn or indifference, but Stahl has until now hardly benefited from this welcome change in attitude. His remarkable silent melodramas were either lost, or buried in archives, while his major sound films such as Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession, equally successful in their time, have been overshadowed by the glamour of the 1950s remakes by Douglas Sirk. Sirk is a far from neglected figure; Stahls much longer Hollywood career deserves attention and celebration in its own right, as this book definitively shows. Drawing on a wide range of film and document archives, scholars from three continents come together to cover Stahls work, as director and also producer, from its beginnings during World War I to his death, as a still active filmmaker, in 1950. Between them they make a strong case for Stahl as an important figure in cinema history, and as author of many films that still have the power to move their audiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780861967360
Publisher: John Libbey Publishing
Publication date: 11/07/2018
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Bruce Babington taught film for many years at Newcastle University. His publications include co-authored works with Peter W. Evans on Hollywood genres (the Musical, the Comedy of the Sexes. The Biblical Epic), and books on the British and New Zealand cinemas. His latest are The Sports Film: Games People Play and The Family Film in Global Cinema (co-edited with Noel Brown).

Charles Barr worked for many years at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, and has since taught in St Louis, Dublin and Galway. He was joint writer, with Stephen Frears, of Typically British, Channel 4s centenary programme on British cinema. Publications include Ealing Studios and English Hitchcock; his most recent book is Hitchcock, Lost and Found: the Forgotten Films, co-authored with Alain Kerzoncuf.

Table of Contents

Introduction Charles Barr 1

Acknowledgments, Technical Notes & Abbreviations 8

Notes on Contributors 11

The Silent Films

John M. Stahl: The Early Years: 1886-1927 Bruce Babington 15

Silent Films (surviving titles in bold type)

1914 A Boy and the Law 26

1917 The Lincoln Cycle Richard Koszarski 29

1918 Wives of Men 36

1918 Suspicion 39

1919 Her Code of Honor Charles Barr 42

1919 The Woman Under Oath Pamela Hutchinson 48

1920 Women Men Forget 54

1920 The Woman in His House 56

1921 Sowing the Wind Lea Jacobs 59

1921 The Child Thou Gavest Me Lea Jacobs 64

1921 Suspicious Wives Pamela Hutchinson 68

1922 The Song of Life Imogen Sara Smith 74

1922 One Clear Call Lea Jacobs 79

1923 The Dangerous Age 84

1922 The Wanters 88

1924 Why Men Leave Home Imogen Sara Smith 91

1924 Husbands and Lovers Imogen Sara Smith Charles Barr 95

1925 Fine Clothes 105

1926 Memory Lane Lea Jacobs 108

1926 The Gay Deceiver 115

1927 Lovers (aka Lovers?) 119

1927 In Old Kentucky Imogen Sara Smith 121

Transition: Tiffany-Stahl

The Tiffany-Stahl Period 1927-1929 Bruce Babington 125

Stahl as Features Film Producer at Tiffany-Stahl 132

1929 Marriage by Contract Tom Ryan 137

The Sound Films

Stahl in the Sound Era 1929-1949: Introduction Bruce Babington 141

1930 A Lady Surrenders Imogen Sara Smith 146

1931 Seed Imogen Sara Smith 150

1931 Strictly Dishonorable Imogen Sara Smith 154

1932 Back Street Lea Jacobs 158

1933 Only Yesterday Charles Barr 164

1934 Imitation of Life Tom Ryan 172

1935 Magnificent Obsession Tom Ryan 180

1937 Parnell Tony Tracy 186

1938 Letter of introduction Bruce Babington 192

1939 When Tomorrow Comes Edward Gallafent 197

1941 Our Wife Bruce Babington 204

1943 Immortal Sergeant Jeremy Arnold 209

1943 Holy Matrimony Lawrence Napper 214

1944 The Eve of St Mark Jeremy Arnold 219

1944 The Keys of the Kingdom Tim Cawkwell 223

1945 Leave Her to Heaven Michael Walker 229

1947 The Foxes of Harrow Adrian Garvey 242

1948 The Walls of Jericho Melanie Williams Neil Sinyard 247

1949 Father Was a Fullback Bruce Babington 251

1949 Oh, You Beautiful Doll Bruce Babington 256

Bibliography John M. Stahl 261

Picture credits 266

Index of Films 267

Index of Names 271

Section of Colour Plates after page 136

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