Behind the Mask of Innocence

Kevin Brownlow, Author Alfred A. Knopf $50 (579p) ISBN 978-0-394-57747-0
The silent movies most known by film-goers paint a charming picture of a relaxed, innocent bygone America. Yet documentary filmmaker Brownlow has unearthed hundreds of forgotten silents that realistically delved into social and political issues: police corruption, white slave rackets, racial tensions, slum conditions, strikes, divorce, venereal disease. Many of these silents took a progressive standpoint softened by melodramatic devices; there were also racist films, Red Scare films, prejudiced caricatures of immigrant groups. By the 1920s, conservatism set in, censorship was widespread, the ``star system'' was in full swing and the socially conscious silents vanished. Brownlow's spellbinding canvas is peopled with the likes of D. W. Griffith, Margaret Sanger, Henry Ford, Upton Sinclair, temperance firebrand Carry Nation. Packed with 250 photographs, this volume caps a trilogy begun with The Parade's Gone By and The War, the West, and the Wilderness. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Paperback - 579 pages - 978-0-520-07626-6
Open Ebook - 626 pages - 978-0-307-82970-2
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