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The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973 (Wisconsin Film Studies)by Tino Balio
Synopses & Reviews
Largely shut out of American theaters since the 1920s, foreign films such as Open City, Bicycle Thief, Rashomon, The Seventh Seal, Breathless, La Dolce Vita and L’Avventura played after World War II in a growing number of art houses around the country and created a small but influential art film market devoted to the acquisition, distribution, and exhibition of foreign-language and English-language films produced abroad. Nurtured by successive waves of imports from Italy, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and the Soviet Bloc, the renaissance was kick-started by independent distributors working out of New York; by the 1960s, however, the market had been subsumed by Hollywood.
From Roberto Rossellini’s Open City in 1946 to Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris in 1973, Tino Balio tracks the critical reception in the press of such filmmakers as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Tony Richardson, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, and Milos Forman. Their releases paled in comparison to Hollywood fare at the box office, but their impact on American film culture was enormous. The reception accorded to art house cinema attacked motion picture censorship, promoted the director as auteur, and celebrated film as an international art. Championing the cause was the new “cinephile” generation, which was mostly made up of college students under thirty.
The fashion for foreign films depended in part on their frankness about sex. When Hollywood abolished the Production Code in the late 1960s, American-made films began to treat adult themes with maturity and candor. In this new environment, foreign films lost their cachet and the art film market went into decline.
"Even those who don't know Italian Neorealism from French New Wave will appreciate Balio's wonderfully thorough survey of foreign films on American screens. Balio takes readers through nearly 30 years of international film history, from the end of WWII to the '70s, arguing that foreign films were then at the peak of their popularity in the United States in large part because of what they offered: sexy, uncensored alternatives to Hollywood fare (restricted under the Hayes Code, which sanitized domestic product). A decade-long Hollywood recession starting in 1947, leading to studio cutbacks, the production of fewer films, and the need for theaters to seek new content contributed to the renaissance, and a new generation of young filmgoers, especially university students, eager for challenging experiences, were ready to take the seats no longer being filled by their parents. Balio also examines the marketing dynamics of certain films (Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, for example, was billed as 'the greatest ghost story of them all') and allows critics of the era to discuss Fellini, Godard, Bergman, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Antonioni, Ray, and other directors at the heart of the movement. At times the proceedings cry out for a contemporary context, but film buffs and historians will find much here to enjoy.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Navajo Talking Picture, released in 1985, is one of the earliest and most controversial works of Native cinema. It is a documentary by Los Angeles filmmaker Arlene Bowman, who travels to the Navajo reservation to record the traditional ways of her grandmother in order to understand her own cultural heritage. For reasons that have often confused viewers, the filmmaker persists despite her traditional grandmotherand#8217;s forceful objections to the apparent invasion of her privacy. What emerges is a strange and thought-provoking work that abruptly calls into question the issue of insider versus outsider and other assumptions that have obscured the complexities of Native art.
Randolph Lewis offers an insightful introduction and analysis of Navajo Talking Picture, in which he shows that it is not simply the first Navajo-produced film but also a path-breaking work in the history of indigenous media in the United States. Placing the film in a number of revealing contexts, including the long history of Navajo people working in Hollywood, the ethics of documentary filmmaking, and the often problematic reception of Native art, Lewis explores the tensions and mysteries hidden in this unsettling but fascinating film.
The French New Wave cinema is arguably the most fascinating of all film movements, famous for its exuberance, daring, and avant-garde techniques. A History of the French New Wave Cinema offers a fresh look at the social, economic, and aesthetic mechanisms that shaped French film in the 1950s, as well as detailed studies of the most important New Wave movies of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Richard Neupert first tracks the precursors to New Wave cinema, showing how they provided blueprints for those who would follow. He then demonstrates that it was a core group of critics-turned-directors from the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma—especially François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard—who really revealed that filmmaking was changing forever. Later, their cohorts Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, and Pierre Kast continued in their own unique ways to expand the range and depth of the New Wave.
In an exciting new chapter, Neupert explores the subgroup of French film practice known as the Left Bank Group, which included directors such as Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda. With the addition of this new material and an updated conclusion, Neupert presents a comprehensive review of the stunning variety of movies to come out of this important era in filmmaking.
About the Author
Tino Balio is professor emeritus of film in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and former director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. He is author of United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950 and Volume 2, 1951–1978 as well as Grand Design: Hollywood as Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939. He is editor of The American Film Industry and Hollywood in the Age of Television.
Table of Contents
Part One: Emergence
2 Italian Neorealism
3 British Film Renaissance
Part Two: Import Trends
4 Market Dynamics
5 French Films of the 1950s
6 Japanese Films of the 1950s
7 Ingmar Bergman: The Brand
8 French New WAve
9 Angry Young Men: British New Cinema
10 Second Italian Renaissance
11 Auteurs From Outside the Epicenter
Part Three: Changing Dynamics
12 Enter Hollywood
The Aura of the New York Film Festival
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