American Showman: Samuel %E2%80%98Roxy' Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry

Ross Melnick. Columbia Univ., $32.50 (576p) ISBN 978-0-231-15904-3
Media scholar Melnick's (coauthor, Cinema Treasures) look at Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel showcases the "transformative moment" that ushered in the "beginning of the modern entertainment industry." Roxy was a German Jewish immigrant whose career at the dawn of the motion picture era took him from a tiny ad-hoc movie theatre in rural Pennsylvania to playing a pivotal role in creating Radio City Music Hall, as well as making the motion pictures and famed movie palaces of the early 20th century viable entertainment destinations. While by no means a light read (the notes and bibliography stretch over 100 pages), film buffs and media studies scholars will find Melnick's tome plenty informative. The author provides wonderful details about how Roxy embellished silent films by surrounding them with live orchestras and dancers, signaling that merely being a projectionist was no longer sufficient—one had to curate, as Roxy did, an experience, complete with flowers, matrons, pages, and fountains. The book also provides valuable insight into Roxy's dynamic contemporary moment—one characterized by world military strife, economic downturn, and a blossoming of technological innovation. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 576 pages - 978-0-231-50425-6
Paperback - 538 pages - 978-0-231-15905-0
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