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Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century brings to life the most popular movie star of his day, the personification of the Golden Age of Hollywood. At his peak, in the teens and twenties, the swashbuckling adventurer embodied the new American Century of speed, opportunity, and aggressive optimism. The essays and interviews in this volume bring fresh perspectives to his life and work, including analyses of films never before examined. Also published here for the first time in English is a first-hand production account of the making of Fairbanks's last silent film, The Iron Mask.
Fairbanks (1883-1939) was the most vivid and strenuous exponent of the American Century, whose dominant mode after 1900 was the mass marketing of a burgeoning democratic optimism, at home and abroad. During those first decades of the twentieth century, his satiric comedy adventures shadow-boxed with the illusions of class and custom. His characters managed to combine the American Easterner's experience and pretension and the Westerner's promise and expansion. As the masculine personification of the Old World aristocrat and the New World self-made man--tied to tradition yet emancipated from history--he constructed a uniquely American aristocrat striding into a new age and sensibility.
This is the most complete account yet written of the film career of Douglas Fairbanks, one of the first great stars of the silent American cinema and one of the original United Artists (comprising Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith). John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh's text is especially rich in its coverage of the early years of the star's career from 1915 to 1920 and covers in detail several films previously considered lost.
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.
Emir Kusturica is one of Eastern Europe's most celebrated and influential filmmakers. Over the course of a thirty-year career, Kusturica has navigated a series of geopolitical fault lines to produce subversive, playful, often satiric works. On the way he won acclaim and widespread popularity while showing a genius for adjusting his poetic pitch--shifting from romantic realist to controversial satirist to sentimental jester. Leading scholar-critic Giorgio Bertellini divides Kusturica's career into three stages--dissention, disconnection, and dissonance--to reflect both the historic and cultural changes going on around him and the changes his cinema has undergone. He uses Kusturica's Palme d'Or winning Underground (1995)--the famously inflammatory take on Yugoslav history after World War II--as the pivot between the tone of romantic, yet pungent critique of the director's early works and later journeys into Balkanist farce marked by slapstick and a self-conscious primitivism. Eschewing the one-sided polemics Kusturica's work often provokes, Bertellini employs balanced discussion and critical analysis to offer a fascinating and up-to-date consideration of a major figure in world cinema.
The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani examines the major works of leading Indian film director Kumar Shahani and explores the reaches of modernist film aesthetics in its international form. More than an auteur study, Laleen Jayamanne approaches Shahani's oeuvre conceptually, as films that reveal cinema's synesthetic capabilities. As the author illustrates, Shahani's cinematic project entails a modern reformulation of the ancient oral tradition of epic narration and performance in order to address the contemporary world, establishing a new cinematic expression. As evidenced by his films, constructing cinematic history entails more than an archival project of retrieval and is a living history of the present, which can intervene in the current moment through sensory experiences.
The 1969 film Ma Nuit chez Maud catapulted its shy academic film director Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) into the limelight, selling over a million tickets in France and earning a nomination for an Academy Award. Ma Nuit chez Maud remains his most famous film, the highlight of an impressive range of films examining the sexual, romantic, and artistic mores of contemporary France, the temptations of desire, the small joys of everyday life, and sometimes, the vicissitudes of history and politics. Yet Rohmer was already forty years old when Maud was released and had already had a career as the editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, a position he lost in a political takeover in 1963. The interviews in this book offer a range of insights into the theoretical, critical, and practical circumstances of Rohmer's remarkably coherent body of films, but also allow Rohmer to act as his own critic, providing us with an array of readings concerning his interest in setting, season, color, and narrative.
Alongside the application of a theoretical rigor to his own films, Rohmer's interviews also discuss directors as varied as Godard, Carné, Renoir, and Hitchcock, and the relations of film to painting, architecture, and music. This book reproduces little-known interviews, such as a debate Rohmer undertakes with Women and Film concerning feminism, alongside detailed discussions from Cahiers and Positif, many produced in English here for the first time.
The Life and Films of John Sturges
The Father of Cuban Ballet
Written records of Alonso’s work are scarce, yet Toba Singer’s quest to spotlight his seminal role in the development of the modern ballet canon yields key material: pre-blockade tapes from Lincoln Center, Spanish-language sources from the Museum of Dance in Havana, and interviews with the ballet master himself alongside a broad range of friends, relatives, and collaborators from throughout his long career, including his ex-wife, Alicia, a famous ballerina in her own right.