In this Book

University of Minnesota Press
summary
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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Introduction: At the Edge of the Frame
  2. pp. ix-xiv
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  1. 1. Rooted in Art
  2. pp. 1-15
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  1. 2. Greek Goddesses for the Moviegoing Public
  2. pp. 16-40
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  1. 3. Vexed and Disputed: The Multiple Histories of Ballet mécanique
  2. pp. 41-68
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  1. 4. Into the Mainstream
  2. pp. 69-81
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  1. 5. The Beginning of the Audible Period
  2. pp. 82-99
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  1. 6. Not Murder but Mayhem: Hollywood Again
  2. pp. 100-113
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  1. 7. Between Pictures
  2. pp. 114-121
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  1. 8. Stepping out of the System: The Making of The Emperor Jones
  2. pp. 122-150
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  1. 9. An Equivocal Independence
  2. pp. 151-166
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  1. 10. Changing Direction
  2. pp. 167-186
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 187-190
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 191-226
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  1. Filmography of Dudley Murphy
  2. pp. 227-230
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. pp. 231-238
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 239-252
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  1. About the Author
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  1. Image Plates
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816697694
Related ISBN(s)
9780816646548
MARC Record
OCLC
191940516
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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