State University of New York Press

SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video (discontinued)

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Published by: State University of New York Press

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SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video (discontinued)

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Bad

Infamy, Darkness, Evil, and Slime on Screen

Violence and corruption sell big, especially since the birth of action cinema, but even from cinema’s earliest days, the public has been delighted to be stunned by screen representations of negativity in all its forms—evil, monstrosity, corruption, ugliness, villainy, and darkness. Bad examines the long line of thieves, rapists, varmints, codgers, dodgers, manipulators, exploiters, conmen, killers, vamps, liars, demons, cold-blooded megalomaniacs, and warmhearted flakes that populate cinematic narrative. From Nosferatu to The Talented Mr. Ripley, the contributors consider a wide range of genres and use a variety of critical approaches to examine evil, villainy, and immorality in twentieth-century film.

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Dead Ringers

The Remake in Theory and Practice

Addresses the important role of remakes in film culture, from early cinema to contemporary Hollywood. While the popular press has criticized movie remakes as signs of Hollywood’s collective lack of imagination, the essays in Dead Ringers reveal the centrality and staying power of remakes as a formative genre in filmmaking. The contributors show that the practice of remaking films dates back to the origins of cinema and the evolution of film markets. In fact, remakes were never so prevalent as during the Classic Hollywood period, when filmmaking had achieved its greatest degree of industrialization, and they continue to play a crucial role in the development of film genres generally. Offering a variety of historical, commercial, theoretical, and cultural perspectives on the remake, Dead Ringers is a valuable resource for students of film history and theory, as well as those interested in the cultural politics of the late twentieth century.

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Detecting Men

Masculinity and the Hollywood Detective Film

Detecting Men examines the history of the Hollywood detective genre and the ways that detective films have negotiated changing social attitudes toward masculinity, heroism, law enforcement, and justice. Genre film can be a site for the expression and resolution of problematic social issues, but while there have been many studies of such other male genres as war films, gangster films, and Westerns, relatively little attention has been paid to detective films beyond film noir. In this volume, Philippa Gates examines classical films of the thirties and forties as well as recent examples of the genre, including Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon films, The Usual Suspects, Seven, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Murder by Numbers, in order to explore social anxieties about masculinity and crime and Hollywood’s conceptions of gender. Up until the early 1990s, Gates argues, the primary focus of the detective genre was the masculinity of the hero. However, from the mid-1990s onward, the genre has shifted to more technical portrayals of crime scene investigation, forensic science, and criminal profiling, offering a reassuring image of law enforcement in the face of violent crime. By investigating the evolution of the detective film, Gates suggests, perhaps we can detect the male.

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Film Voices

Interviews from Post Script

This collection of interviews brings together major Hollywood directors and actors, independent filmmakers, screenwriters, and others to discuss the art, craft, and business of making movies. Whether it be Clint Eastwood or Francis Ford Coppola, Vittorio Storaro or Dede Allen, these filmmakers detail how they strive for quality, the price they pay to do so, and how new technologies and the business aspects of filmmaking impact all aspects of their creativity. Taken together, the interviews reveal much about filmmaking practices in and out of Hollywood.

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Irish and African American Cinema

Identifying Others and Performing Identities, 1980-2000

Focusing on two film traditions not normally studied together, Maria Pramaggiore examines more than two dozen Irish and African American films, including Do the Right Thing, In the Name of the Father, The Crying Game, Boyz N the Hood, The Snapper, and He Got Game, arguing that these films foreground practices of character identification that complicate essentialist notions of national and racial identity. The porous sense of self associated with moments of identification in these films offers a cinematic counterpart to W. E. B. Du Bois’s potent concept of double consciousness, an epistemological standpoint derived from experiences of colonization, racialization, and cultural disruption. Characters in these films, Pramaggiore suggests, reject the national paradigm of insider and outsider in favor of diasporic both/and notions of self, thereby endorsing the postmodern concept of identity as performance.

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Shakespeare in the Cinema

Ocular Proof

Offering a comprehensive look at the strategies that filmmakers have employed in adapting Shakespeare’s plays to the cinema, this book investigates what the task of Shakespearean adaptation reveals about film in general and focuses on patterns and approaches shared by various cinematic works. Buhler provides concise histories of each general strategy, which include non-illusionistic cinema, documentary interpretations, mass-market productions, transgressive and transnational cinema, and approaches that see film as either distinct from the stage or as an extension of theatrical traditions. The book spans more than a century of film, starting with the 1899 King John and extending through Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julie Taymor’s Titus, and later releases.

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Straight

Constructions of Heterosexuality in the Cinema

straight / 'strāt (adj.) . . . without curves . . . correct . . . honest . . . not deviating from the normal . . . conventional . . . heterosexual Practically all mainstream cinema is “straight,” and has been since its inception. In Straight, Wheeler Winston Dixon explores how heterosexual performativity has been constructed in film, from early cinema to the present day. In addition to discussing how cinematic visions of masculine and feminine desire have been commodified and sold to reinforce existing societal constructs, Dixon also documents the recent emergence of “hypermasculinity,” a kinetic and exaggerated masculinity that has been created to counter the more gentle, thoughtful male portrayed in While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, and other films that seemingly threaten the established order of patriarchal cinematic discourse.

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