This celebration of Hollywood moviemaking, a tie-in with a forthcoming PBS series, moves from Edison's invention of the peephole kinetoscope in 1894, through cinema's emergence as a sophisticated narrative form, to recent films like Thelma and Louise and Batman. Emphasis is on classics of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Basinger, chair of film studies at Wesleyan, uses 200 film stills (half in color) in a savvy analysis of how movies manipulate audiences and how genre conventions such as screwball comedies, war movies, westerns and film noir shape and reflect American values and behavior. Her history of the Hollywood studio system detects a shift of power to directors, stars and agents after conglomerates bought the studios. She also investigates the synergistic interaction between television and the silver screen, and includes sections on competition from Europe, political blacklisting in the 1940s and '50s, and the star-manufacturing process. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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