Sure Seaters: The Emergence of Art House Cinema

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U of Minnesota Press, Jan 1, 2001 - Performing Arts - 178 pages
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By the end of the Second World War, a growing segment of the American filmgoing public was wearying of mainstream Hollywood films and began to seek out something different. In major cities and college towns across the country, art film theaters provided a venue for alternatives to the films playing in main-street movie palaces: British, foreign-language, and independent American films, as well as documentaries and revivals of Hollywood classics. A skeptical film industry dubbed such cinemas "sure seaters," convinced that patrons would have no trouble finding seats there. However, with the success of art films like Rossellini's Open City and Mackendrick's Tight Little Island, the meaning of the term "sure seater" changed and, by the end of the 1940s, reflected the frequency with which art house cinemas filled all their seats. Wilinsky examines the development of the theaters that introduced such challenging, personal, and artistic films as The Bicycle Thief and The Red Shoes to American audiences, and offers a more complete understanding of postwar popular culture and the often complicated relationship between art cinema and the commercial film industry that ultimately shaped both and resulted in today's vibrant film culture. -- from back cover.

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Sure seaters: the emergence of art house cinema

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The Production Code crackdown on American movies in the mid-1930s and the propaganda films made during World War II imposed a blandness on American films. Immediately after the war, international ... Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Wilinsky is assistant professor in the Department of Media Arts at the University of Arizona.

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