In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

NotOneof Us: TheImmigrant Directorin Hollywood Thomas H. Pauly. An American Odyssey: EliaKazan and American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983. 282+viii pp. John Russell Taylor. Strangers in Paradise: TheHol{vwood Emigres, 1933-1950.New York: Holt,Rinehart and Winston, 1983.256pp. Graham Petrie In June 1922an article in the magazine Photoplay contrasting the characteristicsof American cinema with those of the German films that were enjoying a fashionable success at the time came to the conclusion that the primary differences were those of national temperament and outlook. The Germans, representing the extreme of European behavior as a whole, were characterized asmorbid, sexually immoral, cynical, sadistic and pessimistic. Americans, in contrast, celebrated "the eternal destiny of splendid youth," "the glory of motherhood," "the square deal," "the equality of the sexes," "equal opportunities for all," and "laughter." Though the wording may be dated, the article reflects a belief that has underpinned the American cinema up to the present day: it is assumed to be wholesome, optimistic and positive in its outlook, designed primarily to entertain, but also concerned with celebrating the ideals and the superior moral values of the American people. The society in which these ideals and values are embodied may have its imperfections, but it comes manifestly closer to achieving the aims ofjustice, tolerance and genuine equality than any other. Beliefs of this kind were probably conveyed most openly and unselfconsciously during the heyday of the studio system from the mid-1920s to the mid-l950s, the main exception being the brief flourishing of the film noir in the post-1945 period (itself, significantly, primarily the product of a foreign sensibility). Now, after the interlude of the late 1960sand early 1970sthat permitted cynicism, pessimism Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 16, Number 4, Winter 1985,475-481 476 Graham Petrie and sexual immorality to have their fling, the previous beliefs are clearly and aggressively resurgent in Hollywood once more, during the presidency of a former film star whose whole philosophy has been shaped by, and reflects, exactly these concepts. The conviction that American cinema has an identity of its own that makes it self-evidently superior to that of any other country-in the scale of its financial returns and its technical expertise, as well as in the attractions of the way of life that it reflects-makes it particularly difficult for a nonAmerican to establish and maintain a foothold within the industry. A director may well be invited to make a film in Hollywood because of an individual, exotic, "foreign" quality that has intrigued American audiences; once in the United States, however, he or she is rarely given an opportunity to continue to display these qualities ("too morbid," "too pessimistic," "too downbeat," "too controversial," "too daring," "too dull") and is often actively discouraged from demonstrating them further. Thus, for each Alfred Hitchcock, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder or, more recently, Milos Forman, there must be a dozen men and women who struggled to complete one or at best a handful of films and have then retreated whence they came, disillusioned and often reviled into the bargain. Moreover, those who have succeeded in Hollywood have done so either bysubsuming their unacceptable non-American cynicism in a framework that gives the impression of celebrating at least some of the positive American values (as all four directors just mentioned managed to do), or by wholeheartedly discarding their European trappings and making archetypally "American" films with more verve and panache than even the Americans could (Michael Curtiz being perhaps the supreme exemplar of this solution). Film's status as a mass medium, costly to produce and dependent for its success on pleasing large numbers of people and pleasing them immediately (not ten or fifteen or a hundred years later) also helps to account for the fact that the task of the foreign filmmaker in America is far more difficult than that of the writer, composer or painter from abroad who decides (or is forced) to settle in the United States. The filmmaker has to find his feet virtually at once and make an immediate impact if he is not to be quickly forgotten or discarded; he is seldom allowed the luxury of experimenting or...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 475-481
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.