American Cinema of the 1930s: Themes and Variations (Screen by Ina R. Hark

By Ina R. Hark

Most likely no decade observed as many adjustments within the Hollywood movie and its product because the Nineteen Thirties did. before everything of the last decade, the was once nonetheless suffering from the transition to speaking photographs. Gangster movies and naughty comedies starring Mae West have been well known in city parts, yet aroused threats of censorship within the heartland. no matter if the movie company may live on the industrial results of the Crash used to be up within the air. by way of 1939, popularly referred to as "Hollywood's maximum Year," motion pictures like long gone With the Wind and The Wizard of ounces used either colour and sound to fabulous impact, and stay American icons at the present time. The "mature oligopoly" that used to be the studio procedure had not just weathered the melancholy and develop into a part of mainstream tradition in the course of the institution and enforcement of the construction Code, it used to be a well-oiled, vertically built-in commercial powerhouse. the 10 unique essays in American Cinema of the Nineteen Thirties concentrate on sixty varied movies of the last decade, together with Dracula, the general public Enemy, difficulty in Paradise, forty second road, King Kong, Imitation of existence, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Swing Time, Angels with soiled Faces, not anything Sacred, Jezebel, Mr. Smith is going to Washington, and Stagecoach.

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While national income dropped sharply, attendance at motion pictures reached an all-time high of eighty million per week (Balio 13). There were notable films of all types. World War I was refought in Hell’s Angels, Journey’s End, and The Dawn Patrol. A documentary team was With Byrd at the South Pole. Detective Philo Vance solved The Bishop Murder Case while jewel thief Raffles baffled police. The women referenced in the titles of Charley’s Aunt, Ladies of Leisure, and Mammy couldn’t have been more different from one another.

Paramount advertised the film with what Balio calls “a huge publicity campaign that emphasized a rivalry with Garbo, and Variety in its review of Morocco underlined their European origins—and association with the women’s film 40 AARON BAKER genre—when making a comparison between the two stars: ‘The Dietrich girl has the Continental acting tricks like Garbo. One is the tragic face, always tragic’ ” (242–43). The foreign elements in these two films and the foreign accents of their leading ladies function therefore to displace onto other cultures their critique of the unfairness experienced by their heroines as a result of their gender and economic conditions.

That film’s star, Claudette Colbert, finds herself, in Imitation of Life, both a woman in the business world of men and a white widow deeply involved in the lives of her black servant (but also business partner) and that woman’s troubled, light-skinned daughter. In Manhattan Melodrama two orphaned friends grow up to be a clever crook and a crusading attorney/politician, but at crucial points in their lives their moral positions look equivalent or even reversed. And in Judge Priest, the title character identifies less with the people that his white race and position of judicial authority grant him than with Blacks and social outcasts.

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