Synopses & Reviews
Explosive! Amazing! Terrifying! You wonandrsquo;t believe your eyes!and#160;
and#160;Such movie taglines were common in the 1950s, as Hollywood churned out a variety of low-budget pictures that were sold on the basis of their sensational content and topicality. While a few of these movies have since become canonized by film fans and critics, a number of the eraandrsquo;s biggest fads have now faded into obscurity. The Cool and the Crazy
examines seven of these film cycles, including short-lived trends like boxing movies, war pictures, and social problem films detailing the sordid and violent life of teenagers, as well as uniquely 1950s takes on established genres like the gangster picture. and#160;
and#160;Peter Stanfield reveals how Hollywood sought to capitalize upon current events, moral panics, and popular fads, making movies that were andldquo;ripped from the headlinesandrdquo; on everything from the Korean War to rock and roll. As he offers careful readings of several key films, he also considers the broader historical and commercial contexts in which these films were produced, marketed, and exhibited. In the process, Stanfield uncovers surprising synergies between Hollywood and other arenas of popular culture, like the ways that the fashion trend for blue jeans influenced the 1950s Western.and#160;
and#160;Delivering sharp critical insights in jazzy, accessible prose, The Cool and the Crazy offers an appreciation of cinema as a andldquo;popandrdquo; medium, unabashedly derivative, faddish, and ephemeral. By studying these long-burst bubbles of 1950s andldquo;pop,andrdquo; Stanfield reveals something new about what films do and the pleasures they provide.and#160;
andquot;Fresh ideas, fresh arguments, and a good feel for the 1950sandmdash;Stanfield has it all. This book is one of a kind.andquot;
andquot;Stanfield's vivid prose, his attention to intellectual subtlety, and
andquot;Maximum Movies, Pulp Fictions
is a well-researched, well written and deeply felt tribute to the films and cinephilic writers that laid the foundation for the discipline.andquot;
andquot;This dazzling archaeology of cycles and genres in postwar cinema goes deep into cultural history, then pulls back to reveal patterns and movements unseen until Stanfield saw them. Highly recommended.andquot;
andquot;The Battle for the Bs
is a highly-readable book that shies away from the jargon that often accompanies film theory, which will make it valuable to students studying film history as well as students who want to learn more about mid-twentieth century cultural history.andquot;
andquot;Trenchantly, Blair Davis upends commonplaces about B-movies as marginal, demonstrating instead their centrality to American cinema and, indeed, to mid-century popular culture overall. A rich, rigorous contribution to film history.andquot;
andquot;Blair Davis has rescued low-budget cinema from scholarly neglect with this excellent and persuasive account, a fine example of superior scholarship.andquot;
andquot;Aand#160;fascinating study of post-World War IIand#160;cinema.andquot;
This collection of essays represents the work of a new generation of historians who have made discoveries in the study of films from the Blacklist era which demand our attention.
In the 1950s, Hollywood made a variety of sensational movies meant to capitalize upon current events, moral panics, and popular fads. The Cool and the Crazy examines seven of the decadeandrsquo;s key film cycles, including short-lived trends like boxing and juvenile delinquency movies, as well as uniquely andlsquo;50s takes on established genres like the Western. and#160;Delivering sharp critical insights in jazzy, accessible prose, Peter Stanfield offers an appreciation of cinema as a andldquo;popandrdquo; medium, unabashedly derivative, faddish, and ephemeral.and#160;and#160;
In the words of Richard Maltby . . . "Maximum Movies--Pulp Fictions describes two improbably imbricated worlds and the piece of cultural history their intersections provoked." One of these worlds comprises a clutch of noisy, garish pulp movies--Kiss Me Deadly, Shock Corridor, Fixed Bayonets!, I Walked with a Zombie, The Lineup, Terror in a Texas Town, Ride Lonesome--pumped out for the grind houses at the end of the urban exhibition chain by the studios' B-divisions and fly-by-night independents. The other is occupied by critics, intellectuals, cinephiles, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Manny Farber, and Lawrence Alloway, who championed the cause of these movies and incited the cultural guardians of the day by attacking a rigorously policed canon of tasteful, rarified, and ossified art objects. Against the legitimate, and in defense of the illegitimate, in an insolent and unruly manner, they agitated for the recognition of lurid sensational crime stories, war pictures, fast-paced Westerns, thrillers, and gangster melodramas were claimed as examples of the true, the real, and the authentic in contemporary culture--the foundation upon which modern film studies sits.
In The Battle for the Bandrsquo;s, Blair Davis analyzes how B-films were produced, distributed, and exhibited in the 1950s and demonstrates the new possibilities that existed for low-budget filmmaking at a time when many in Hollywood abandoned the Bandrsquo;s. B-movies innovated such industrial components as demographic patterns and marketing approaches, created such genres as science fiction and the teen-oriented films of the early and mid fifties, and led to the emergence of andldquo;New Poverty Row,andrdquo; a movement now known as underground cinema.
The emergence of the double-bill in the 1930s created a divide between A-pictures and B-pictures as theaters typically screened packages featuring one of each. With the former considered more prestigious because of their larger budgets and more popular actors, the lower-budgeted Bs served largely as a support mechanism to A-films of the major studiosandmdash;most of which also owned the theater chains in which movies were shown. When a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court antitrust ruling severed ownership of theaters from the studios, the B-movie soon became a different entity in the wake of profound changes to the corporate organization and production methods of the major Hollywood studios.
In The Battle for the Bs, Blair Davis analyzes how B-films were produced, distributed, and exhibited in the 1950s and demonstrates the possibilities that existed for low-budget filmmaking at a time when many in Hollywood had abandoned the Bs. Made by newly formed independent companies, 1950s B-movies took advantage of changing demographic patterns to fashion innovative marketing approaches. They established such genre cycles as science fiction and teen-oriented films (think Destination Moon and I Was a Teenage Werewolf) well before the major studios and also contributed to the emergence of the movement now known as underground cinema. Although frequently proving to be multimillion-dollar box-office draws by the end of the decade, the Bs existed in opposition to the cinematic mainstream in the 1950s and created a legacy that was passed on to independent filmmakers in the decades to come.
The concept of andldquo;un-Americanism,andrdquo; so vital to the HUAC crusade of the 1940s and 1950s, was resoundingly revived in the emotional rhetoric that followed the September 11th terrorist attacks. Todayandrsquo;s political and cultural climate makes it more crucial than ever to come to terms with the consequences of this earlier period of repression and with the contested claims of Americanism that it generated.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; andldquo;Un-Americanandrdquo; Hollywoodand#160; reopens the intense critical debate on the blacklist era and on the aesthetic and political work of the Hollywood Left. In a series of fresh case studies focusing on contexts of production and reception, the contributors offer exciting and original perspectives on the role of progressive politics within a capitalist media industry.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Original essays scrutinize the work of individual practitioners, such as Robert Rossen, Joseph Losey, Jules Dassin, and Edward Dmytryk, and examine key films, including The Robe, Christ in Concrete, The House I Live In, The Lawless, The Naked City, The Prowler, Body and Soul, and FTA.
About the Author
PETER STANFIELD is a professor in the film department at the University of Kent, UK. His previous books include Maximum Moviesandmdash;Pulp Fiction: Film Culture and the Worlds of Mickey Spillane, Samuel Fuller, and Jim Thompson, andquot;Un-Americanandquot; Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era (both Rutgers University Press), and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy.
Table of Contents
The Bs Take Flight: An Introduction
1. Hollywood in Transition: The Business of 1950s Filmmaking
2. The Battle Begins: Hollywood Reacts, Poverty Row Collapses
3. The Rebirth of the B-Movie in the 1950s
4. Attack of the Independent: American Internationaland#160;Pictures and the B-Movie
5. Small Screen, Smaller Pictures: New Perspectives on 1950s Television and B-Movies
6. Big and#160;B, Little b: A Case Study of Three Films
7. Notes from the Underground: The Legacy of the 1950s B-Movie