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Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century

John C. Tibbetts

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.

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A Dream of Resistance

The Cinema of Kobayashi Masaki

Stephen Prince

Celebrated as one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers, Kobayashi Masaki’s scorching depictions of war and militarism marked him as a uniquely defiant voice in post-war Japanese cinema. A pacifist drafted into Japan’s Imperial Army, Kobayashi survived the war with his principles intact and created a body of work that was uncompromising in its critique of the nation’s military heritage. Yet his renowned political critiques were grounded in spiritual perspectives, integrating motifs and beliefs from both Buddhism and Christianity.  

A Dream of Resistance is the first book in English to explore Kobayashi’s entire career, from the early films he made at Shochiku studio, to internationally-acclaimed masterpieces like The Human Condition, Harakiri, and Samurai Rebellion, and on to his final work for NHK Television. Closely examining how Kobayashi’s upbringing and intellectual history shaped the values of his work, Stephen Prince illuminates the political and religious dimensions of Kobayashi’s films, interpreting them as a prayer for peace in troubled times. Prince draws from a wealth of rare archives, including previously untranslated interviews, material that Kobayashi wrote about his films, and even the young director’s wartime diary. The result is an unprecedented portrait of this singular filmmaker.  

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Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card

Susan B Delson

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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The Eddie Cantor Story

A Jewish Life in Performance and Politics

David Weinstein

This absorbing biography chronicles the life and work of one of the most important entertainers of the twentieth century. Eddie Cantor (1892–1964) starred in theater, film, radio, and television. His immense popularity across a variety of media, his pride in his Jewish heritage, and his engagement with pressing political issues distinguished him from other headliners of his era. Paying equal attention to Cantor’s humor and politics, Weinstein documents his significance as a performer, philanthropist, and activist.

Many show business figures quietly shed their Jewish backgrounds or did not call attention to the fact that they were Jewish. Cantor was different. He addressed the vital issues of his times, including acculturation, national identity, and antisemitism. He was especially forceful in opposing Nazism and paid a price for this activism in 1939, when a sponsor cancelled the actor’s radio program. In this carefully researched book, Weinstein uncovers sketches and routines filled with Jewish phrases, allusions, jokes, songs, and stories. Cantor frequently did not mark this material as “Jewish,” relying instead on attentive audiences to interpret his coded performances.

Illustrated with thirty photographs, The Eddie Cantor Story examines the evolution, impact, and legacy of Cantor’s performance style. His music and comedy not only shaped the history of popular entertainment, but also provide a foundation for ongoing efforts to redefine Jewish culture and build community in contemporary America.

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Electric Salome

Loie Fuller's Performance of Modernism

Rhonda K. Garelick

Loie Fuller was the most famous American in Europe throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rising from a small-time vaudeville career in the States, she attained international celebrity as a dancer, inventor, impresario, and one of the first women filmmakers in the world. Fuller befriended royalty and inspired artists such as Mallarmé, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan. Today, though, she is remembered mainly as an untutored "pioneer" of modern dance and stage technology, the "electricity fairy" who created a sensation onstage whirling under colored spotlights. But in Rhonda Garelick's Electric Salome, Fuller finally receives her due as a major artist whose work helped lay a foundation for all modernist performance to come. The book demonstrates that Fuller was not a mere entertainer or precursor, but an artist of great psychological, emotional, and sexual expressiveness whose work illuminates the centrality of dance to modernism.

Electric Salome places Fuller in the context of classical and modern ballet, Art Nouveau, Orientalism, surrealism, the birth of cinema, American modern dance, and European drama. It offers detailed close readings of texts and performances, situated within broader historical, cultural, and theoretical frameworks. Accessibly written, the book also recounts the human story of how an obscure, uneducated woman from the dustbowl of the American Midwest moved to Paris, became a star, and lived openly for decades as a lesbian.

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Emir Kusturica

Giorgio Bertellini

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.

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The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani

Laleen Jayamanne

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.

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Eric Rohmer


Fiona Handyside

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.

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Escape Artist

The Life and Films of John Sturges

Glenn Lovell

Escape Artist—based on Glenn Lovell’s extensive interviews with John Sturges, his wife and children, and numerous stars including Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, and Jane Russell—is the first biography of the director of such acclaimed films as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and Bad Day at Black Rock. Lovell examines Sturges’s childhood in California during the Great Depression; his apprenticeship in the editing department of RKO Pictures, where he worked on such films as Gunga Din and Of Human Bondage; his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II; and his emergence as one of the first independent producer-directors in Hollywood.
Chronicling the filmmaker’s relationships with such luminaries as Spencer Tracy, James Garner, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra, Escape Artist interweaves biography with critical analyses of Sturges’s hits and misses. Along the way, Lovell addresses the reasons why Sturges has been overlooked in the ongoing discussion of postwar Hollywood and explores the director’s focus on masculinity, machismo, and male-bonding in big-budget, ensemble action films. Lovell also examines Sturges’s aesthetic sensibility, his talent for composing widescreen images, and his uncanny ability to judge raw talent—including that of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, all of whom began their careers in Sturges’s movies.
            This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.

Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

"Pick up a copy of film critic and scholar Glenn Lovell's terrific new Sturges biography, Escape Artist. . . . I can't urge you enough to check out this interview-rich, aesthetically and culturally perceptive look at the filmmaker and his work."—Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

“Lovell’s list of interviewees reads like a who’s who of Hollywood and they obviously provided rich source material for this full-scale biography and career survey.”— Leonard Maltin

“This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.”—Turner Classic Movies (


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Fernando Alonso

The Father of Cuban Ballet

Toba Singer

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.

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