Rutgers University Press

Star Decades: American Culture/American

Adrienne L. McLean, Murray Pomerance

Published by: Rutgers University Press

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Star Decades: American Culture/American

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Flickers of Desire

Movie Stars of the 1910s

Edited and with an introduction by Jennifer M. Bean

Today, we are so accustomed to consuming the amplified lives of film stars that the origins of the phenomenon may seem inevitable in retrospect. But the conjunction of the terms "movie" and "star" was inconceivable prior to the 1910s. Flickers of Desire explores the emergence of this mass cultural phenomenon, asking how and why a cinema that did not even run screen credits developed so quickly into a venue in which performers became the American film industry's most lucrative mode of product individuation. Contributors chart the rise of American cinema's first galaxy of stars through a variety of archival sources--newspaper columns, popular journals, fan magazines, cartoons, dolls, postcards, scrapbooks, personal letters, limericks, and dances. The iconic status of Charlie Chaplin's little tramp, Mary Pickford's golden curls, Pearl White's daring stunts, or Sessue Hayakawa's expressionless mask reflect the wild diversity of a public's desired ideals, while Theda Bara's seductive turn as the embodiment of feminine evil, George Beban's performance as a sympathetic Italian immigrant, or G. M. Anderson's creation of the heroic cowboy/outlaw character transformed the fantasies that shaped American filmmaking and its vital role in society.

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Hollywood Reborn

Movie Stars of the 1970s

Edited and with an introduction by James Morrison

As studio and star systems declined in the 1970s, actors had more power than ever, and because many had become fiercely politicized by the temper of the times, the movies they made were often more challenging than before. Thus, just when it might have faded out, Hollywood was reborn-but what was the nature of this rebirth? Hollywood Reborn examines this question, offering new perspectives through the lens of important stars, and illuminating in the process some of the most fascinating and provocative films of the decade.

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Idols of Modernity

Movie Stars of the 1920s

Edited and with an introduction by Patrice Petro

With its sharp focus on stardom during the 1920s, Idols of Modernity reveals strong connections and dissonances in matters of storytelling and performance that can be traced both backward and forward, across Europe, Asia, and the United States, from the silent era into the emergence of sound. Bringing together the best new work on cinema and stardom in the 1920s, this illustrated collection showcases the range of complex social, institutional, and aesthetic issues at work in American cinema of this time.

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Larger Than Life

Movie Stars of the 1950s

Edited and with an introduction by R. Barton Palmer

The constellation of Hollywood stars burned brightly in the 1950s, even as the industry fell on hard economic times. Major artists of the 1940s continued to exert a magical appeal but the younger generation of moviegoers was soon enthralled by an emerging cast, led by James Dean and Marlon Brando. They, among others, ushered in a provocative acting style, "the Method," bringing hard-edged, realistic performances to the screen. Larger Than Life offers a comprehensive view of the star system in 1950s Hollywood and also in-depth discussions of the decade's major stars.

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New Constellations

Movie Stars of the 1960s

Edited and with an introduction by Pamela Robertson Wojcik

American culture changed radically over the course of the 1960s, and the culture of Hollywood was no exception. The film industry began the decade confidently churning out epic spectacles and lavish musicals, but became flummoxed as new aesthetics and modes of production emerged, and low-budget youth pictures like Easy Rider became commercial hits.

New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960s tells the story of the final glory days of the studio system and changing conceptions of stardom, considering such Hollywood icons as Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman alongside such hallmarks of youth culture as Mia Farrow and Dustin Hoffman. Others, like Sidney Poitier and Peter Sellers, took advantage of the developing independent and international film markets to craft truly groundbreaking screen personae. And some were simply “famous for being famous,” with celebrities like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Edie Sedgwick paving the way for today’s reality stars.

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PRETTY PEOPLE

Movie Stars of the 1990s

Edited by Anna Everett

In the 1990s, American civil society got upended and reordered as many social, cultural, political, and economic institutions were changed forever. Pretty People examines a wide range of Hollywood icons who reflect how stardom in that decade was transformed as the nation itself was signaling significant changes to familiar ideas about gender, race, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality, and nationality.Such actors as Denzel Washington, Andy Garcia, Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and Antonio Banderas became bona fide movie stars who carried major films to amazing box-office success. Five of the decade’s top ten films were opened by three women—Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, and Whoopi Goldberg. “Chick flick” entered the lexicon as Leonardo DiCaprio became the “King of the World,” ushering in the cult of the mega celebrity. Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise defined screen masculinity as stark contrasts between “the regular guy” and “the intense guy” while the roles of Michael Douglas exemplified the endangered “Average White Male.” A fascinating composite portrait of 1990s Hollywood and its stars, this collection marks the changes to stardom and society at century’s end.

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Shining in Shadows

Movie Stars of the 2000s

Edited by Murray Pomerance

In the 2000s, new technologies transformed the experiences of movie-going and movie-making, giving us the first generation of stars to be just as famous on the computer screen as on the silver screen.Movie Stars of the 2000s examines a wide range of Hollywood icons from a turbulent decade for the film industry and for America itself. Perhaps reflecting our own cultural fragmentation and uncertainty, Hollywood’s star personas sent mixed messages about Americans’ identities and ideals. Disheveled men-children like Will Ferrell and Jack Black shared the multiplex with debonair old-Hollywood standbys like George Clooney and Morgan Freeman. Iconic roles for women ranged from Renee Zellweger’s dithering romantics to Tina Fey’s neurotic professionals to Hilary Swank’s vulnerable boyish characters. And in this age of reality TV and TMZ, stars like Jennifer Aniston and “Brangelina” became more famous for their real-life romantic dramas—at the same time that former tabloid fixtures like Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. reinvented themselves as dependable leading men. With a multigenerational, international cast of stars, this collection presents a fascinating composite portrait of Hollywood stardom today.

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What Dreams Were Made Of

Movie Stars of the 1940s

Edited and with an introduction by Sean Griffin

What Dreams Were Made Of examines the performers who helped define American cinema in the 1940s, a decade of rapid and repeated upheaval for Hollywood and the United States. Through insightful discussions of key films as well as studio publicity and fan magazines, the essays in this collection analyze how these actors and actresses helped lift spirits during World War II, whether in service comedies, combat films, or escapist musicals. Together, they represented the hopes and fears of a nation during turbulent times, enacting on the silver screen the dreams of millions of moviegoers.

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