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Career Movies

American Business and the Success Mystique

By Jack Boozer

Publication Year: 2002

Achieving the American Dream became inextricably linked with career/business success after World War II, as an increasingly consumerist America learned to define the dream through possessions and status. Not surprisingly, Hollywood films in the postwar years reflected the country’s preoccupation with work and career success, offering both dramatic and comedic visions of the career quest and its effects on personal fulfillment, family relations, women’s roles, and the creation (or destruction) of just and caring communities. In this book, Jack Boozer argues that the career/business film achieved such variety and prominence in the years between 1945 and 2001 that it should be considered a legitimate film genre. Analyzing numerous well-known films from the entire period, he defines the genre as one in which a protagonist strives for career success that often proves to be either elusive despite hard work, or unfulfilling despite material rewards and status. Boozer also explores several distinct subgenres of the career movie—the corporate executive films of the 1950s; the career struggles of (single, married, and/or parenting) women; the entrepreneurial film as it is also embodied in texts about immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities and business-oriented femmes fatales; the explosion of promotionalism and the corporatization of employment; and, finally, the blurring of work and private life in the brave new world of the televirtuality film.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. vi-

This project was supported by a book initiation grant from Georgia State University and by three summer grants from the Department of Communication at Georgia State. I am also indebted to my wife Pamela, who not only put up with my book-related schedule over the last few years, but was kind enough to read over the manuscript, give ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-17

The two clips of dialogue above, which are taken from director/co-writer Oliver Stone’s 1987 film, suggest issues that are critical to American career ideology as it has functioned under a capitalist system. In Wall Street, college graduate Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) must choose between the opposing economic viewpoints and character of two paternal ...

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CHAPTER 1. THE CLASSICAL CORPORATE EXECUTIVE FILM

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pp. 18-49

The classical corporate executive film is central to business career cinema. It was born in the decade following World War II, and its era ended by 1958. These films were a reflection of new socioeconomic conditions after the war, particularly as these conditions were filtered through popular fiction and drama about big business. Hollywood ...

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CHAPTER 2. THE EMERGENCE OF THE CAREER WOMAN

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pp. 50-94

Unlike corporate career films, where men have traditionally dominated on-screen as in real life, there are, since 1944, approximately as many business films about female as about male entrepreneurs. In the last three decades women corporate executive characters have also become increasingly prominent on-screen. Clearly, success in business careers ...

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CHAPTER 3. THE ENTREPRENEURIAL IMPULSE

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pp. 95-145

Any consideration of the business and career film would be incomplete without specific attention to the entrepreneur, who plays such a central role in American economic history and ideology. Entrepreneurial business success is what most people have in mind when they conjure an image of the American Dream. This particular avenue of success suggests ...

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CHAPTER 4. HUCKSTER FOREPLAY THE PROMOTION INDUSTRY

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pp. 146-198

Having considered the two general categories of corporate versus entrepreneurial enterprise in film, as well as important issues of gender, class, and racial and ethnic identity, I wish to turn in these two closing chapters to films that address the two most significant trends impacting career and life in this age. The first is the promotional dimension of ...

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CHAPTER 5. WORKING IN AMERICAN TELEVIRTUALITY

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pp. 199-237

It is the revolution in televisual and other communications technologies that most defines the contemporary age and, in conjunction with the promotion industry, sets the tone of everyday experience in American work and leisure. In addition to the central cultural position of television, both the specific work roles and career tracks of today’s businessperson ...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 238-250

This study of success ideology in the American business career film from 1945 to the present reveals several things. It demonstrates both how little the basic personal quality of individual initiative required for success has been altered over time, and how much the recently technologized business and work environment has changed. Career as a base ...

LIST OF FILM STILLS

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pp. 251-252

NOTES

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pp. 253-274

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 275-280

INDEX

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pp. 281-292


E-ISBN-13: 9780292796522
E-ISBN-10: 0292796528
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292709119
Print-ISBN-10: 0292709110

Page Count: 300
Illustrations: 30 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2002