American Cinema of the 1950s: Themes and Variations

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Murray Pomerance
Rutgers University Press, 2005 - Performing Arts - 287 pages
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From cold war hysteria and rampant anticommunist witch hunts to the lure of suburbia, television, and the new consumerism, the 1950s was a decade of sensational commercial possibility coupled with dark nuclear fears and conformist politics. In the face of these social, political, and cultural conditions, Hollywood was under siege: from the Justice Department, which pressed for big film companies to divest themselves of their theater holdings; from the middle class, whose retreat to family entertainment inside the home drastically decreased the filmgoing audience; and from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was attempting to purge the country of dissenting political views. In this difficult context, however, some of the most talented filmmakers of all time, including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, and Billy Wilder produced some of their most remarkable work. Bringing together original essays by ten respected scholars in the field, American Cinema of the 1950s explores the impact of the cultural environment of this decade on film, and the impact of film on the American cultural milieu. Contributors examine signature films of the decade, including From Here to Eternity, Sunset Blvd., Singin' in the Rain, Shane, Rear Window, and Rebel Without a Cause, as well as lesser-known but equally compelling films, such as Dial 1119, Mystery Street, Suddenly, Summer Stock, The Last Hunt, Bitter Victory, and many others. Provocative, engaging, and accessible to general readers as well as scholars, this volume provides a unique lens through which to view the links between film and the prevailing social and historical events of the 1950s. Murray Pomerance is a professor and chair in the department of sociology at Ryerson University. He is the author of An Eye for Hitchcock and Johnny Depp Starts Here. A volume in the Screen Decades: American Culture/American Cinema series, edited by Lester D. Friedman and Murray Pomerance
 

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Contents

Movies and Landscapes
23
Movies and the New Faces of Masculinity
43
Movies and the Paradox of Female Stardom
65
Movies and Our Secret Lives
89
Movies and the Walls of Privacy
115
Movies and Growing Up Absurd
134
Movies and the Crack of Doom
155
Movies and the Search for Proportion
177
Movies and Allegories of Ambivalence
201
Movies and the Racial Divide
222
Select Academy Awards 19501959
245
Contributors
265
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