Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card

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U of Minnesota Press, 2006 - Performing Arts - 251 pages
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Dudley Murphy (1897–1968) was one of early Hollywood’s most intriguing figures. Active from the 1920s through the 1940s, Murphy was one of the industry’s first independents and a guiding intelligence behind some of the key films in early twentieth-century cinema. In the first full-length biography of Murphy, author Susan Delson gives full rein to an American original whose life was as audacious as his films. As expertly chronicled here, Murphy caromed between film and the other arts, between Hollywood and other cultural capitals—Greenwich Village, Harlem, London, and Paris—hobnobbing with some of the era’s leading cultural figures, including Ezra Pound, Man Ray, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Chaplin, and leaving many a scandal in his wake. With artist Fernand Léger, Murphy made Ballet mécanique, one of the seminal works of avant-garde film. He directed Bessie Smith in her only film appearance, St. Louis Blues, and Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones. He had a hand in shaping Tod Browning’s Dracula, gave Bing Crosby one of his first film appearances, and collaborated with William Faulkner in attempting to bring one of the author’s most challenging novels to the screen. Murphy also turned out forgettable Hollywood fodder like Confessions of a Co-Ed and Stocks and Blondes, and ended his career making melodramas in Mexico. Delson pays close attention to Murphy’s cinematic style, which favored visual play over narrative and character, and she offers provocative new insights into his two most important works, Ballet mécanique and The Emperor Jones. A lively portrait, Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card provides a fascinating perspective on the evolution of the classical Hollywood aesthetic, the development of the film industry, and the century’s broader cultural currents. Susan Delson is based in New York and writes frequently about film, art, and history.
  

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Dudley Murphy, Hollywood wild card

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Delson, a New York-based writer, presents the first full-length study of wealthy, eccentric, enigmatic filmmaker Dudley Murphy (1897-1968). When Murphy decided to break into the business in the 1920s ... Read full review

Contents

Rooted in Art
1
Greek Goddesses for the Moviegoing Public
16
Vexed and Disputed The Multiple Histories of Ballet mécanique
41
Into the Mainstream
69
The Beginning of the Audible Period
82
Not Murder but Mayhem Hollywood Again
100
Between Pictures
114
Stepping out of the System The Making of The Emperor Jones
122
An Equivocal Independence
151
Changing Direction
167
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
187
NOTES
191
FILMOGRAPHY OF DUDLEY MURPHY
227
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
231
INDEX
239
Copyright

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Page 234 - Aug. 8, 1908: 7; rpt. in George C. Pratt, Spellbound in Darkness: A History of the Silent Film (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1973), 56.

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