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Contents

Acknowledgments

How to Use This Book

Part I Culture and American Film

1 Introduction to the Study of Film Form and Representation

Film Form

American Ideologies: Discrimination and Resistance

Culture and Cultural Studies

Case Study: The Lion King (1994)

Further Reading

2 Power Electronics for Wind Turbines

Hollywood vs. Independent Film

The Style of Hollywood Cinema

The Business of Hollywood

The History of Hollywood: The Movies Begin

The Classical Hollywood Cinema

World War II and Postwar Film

“New” Hollywood and the Blockbuster Mentality

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

Part II Race and Ethnicity and American Film
Introduction to Part II: What is Race?

3 The Concept of Whiteness and American Film

Seeing White

Bleaching the Green: The Irish in American Cinema

Looking for Respect: Italians in American Cinema

A Special Case: Jews and Hollywood

Case Study: The Jazz Singer (1927)

Veiled and Reviled: Arabs on Film in America

Conclusion: Whiteness and American Film Today

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

4 African Americans and American Film

African Americans in Early Film

Blacks in Classical Hollywood Cinema

World War II and the Postwar Social Problem Film

The Rise and Fall of Blaxploitation Filmmaking

Box: Blacks on TV

Hollywood in the 1980s and the Arrival of Spike Lee

Black Independent vs. “Neo-Blaxploitation” Filmmaking

New Images for a New Century – Or Not?

Case Study: Bamboozled (2000)

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

5 Native Americans and American Film

The American “Indian” Before Film

Ethnographic Films and the Rise of the Hollywood Western

The Evolving Western

A Kinder, Gentler America?

Case Study: Smoke Signals (1998)

Conclusion: Twenty-First-Century Indians?

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

6 Asian Americans and American Film

Silent Film and Asian Images

Asians in Classical Hollywood Cinema

World War II and After: War Films, Miscegenation Melodramas, and Kung Fu

Contemporary Asian American Actors and Filmmakers

Case Study: Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989)

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

7 Latinos and American Film

The Greaser and the Latin Lover: Alternating Stereotypes

World War II and After: The Good Neighbor Policy

The 1950s to the 1970s: Back to Business as Usual?

Expanding Opportunities in Recent Decades

Conclusion: A Backlash Against Chicanos?

Case Study: My Family/Mi Familia (1995)

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

Part III Class and American Film Introduction to Part III: What is Class?

8 Classical Hollywood Cinema and Class

Setting the Stage: The Industrial Revolution

Early Cinema: The Rise of the Horatio Alger Myth

Hollywood and Unionization

Class in the Classical Hollywood Cinema

Case Study: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Conclusion: Recloaking Class Consciousness

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

9 Cinematic Class Struggle After the Depression

From World War II to the Red Scare

From Opulence to Counterculture

Box: Class on Television

New Hollywood and the Resurrection of the Horatio Alger Myth

Case Study: Bulworth (1998)

Conclusion: Corporate Hollywood and Labor Today

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

Part IV Gender and American Film Introduction to Part IV: What is Gender?

10 Women in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking

Images of Women in Early Cinema

Early Female Filmmakers

Images of Women in 1930s Classical Hollywood

World War II and After

Case Study: All that Heaven Allows (1955)

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

11 Exploring the Visual Parameters of Women in Film

Ways of Seeing

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

Case Study: Gilda (1946)

Conclusion: Complicating Mulvey’s Arguments

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

12 Masculinity in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking

Masculinity and Early Cinema

Masculinity and the Male Movie Star

World War II and Film Noir

Case Study: Dead Reckoning (1947)

Masculinity in 1950s American Film

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

13 Gender in American Film Since the 1960s

Second Wave Feminism and Hollywood

Into the 1980s: A Backlash against Women?

Box: Women and American Television

A New Generation of Female Filmmakers

Case Study: The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)

Conclusion: Gender in the Early Twenty-First Century

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

Part V Sexuality and American Film Introduction to Part V: What is Sexuality?

14 Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Classical Hollywood

(Hetero)Sexuality on Screen

(Homo)Sexuality in Early Film

Censoring Sexuality during the Classical Hollywood Era

Postwar Sexualities and the Weakening of the Production Code

Camp and the Underground Cinema

Case Study: The Celluloid Closet (1995)

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

15 Sexualities on Film Since the Sexual Revolution

Hollywood and the Sexual Revolution

Film and Gay Culture from Stonewall to AIDS

The AIDS Crisis

Queer Theory and New Queer Cinema

Box: Queer TV

Case Study: Go Fish (1995)

Hollywood Responds to New Queer Cinema

(Hetero)Sexualities in Contemporary American Cinema

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

Part VI Ability and American Film Introduction to Part VI: What is Ability?

16 Cinematic Images of (Dis)Ability

Disabled People in Early American Film: Curiosities and Freaks

Romanticizing Disability in Classical Hollywood Melodramas

Disability in War Movies and Social Problem Films

Disability and the Counterculture

Case Study: Children of a Lesser God (1986)

A More Enlightened Age?

Questions for Discussion

Further Reading

Further Screening

17 Making Connections

Case Study 1: Queen Christina (1933)

Case Study 2: The Old Maid (1939)

Case Study 3: The Gang’s All Here (1943)

Case Study 4: A Patch of Blue (1965)

Case Study 5: Erin Brockovich (2000)

Case Study 6: 8 Mile (2002)

Case Study 7: Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

Case Study 8: Saving Face (2004)

Case Study 9: Crash (2004)

Case Study 10: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

Case Study 11: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Case Study 12: Quinceañera (2006)

Glossary

Index

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The origins of this book can be traced back to a class we both taught at Antelope Valley Community College in Lancaster, California, when we were PhD students at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. We “inherited” the class from Jaime Bihlmeyer when he took another position. Jaime had created his own set of readings for the course, because, as we quickly discovered, there were very few published texts available that covered “diversity in American film” with the historical and theoretical consistency that we desired. Thus, our colleagues and students at Antelope Valley College are the first people we wish to thank.

Sean Griffin then taught revised versions of this class at California State University at Long Beach, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Florida Atlantic University, while Harry Benshoff developed individual courses in African American film and lesbian, gay, and queer media. Our colleagues and students throughout those years contributed to this project in myriad ways, and we especially want to thank Shelley Stamp and Michael Cowan at UCSC.

It was while we were living and working in Santa Cruz that Jayne Fargnoli, our soon-to-be editor at Blackwell, asked us what kind of textbooks were needed in film and media studies. We both immediately told her there was a need for a text like America on Film, and a few months later Jayne asked us if we wanted to write the book ourselves. Her support and feedback have been immeasurable, as have those of her assistant, Margot Morse. Our project manager and copy-editor, Fiona Sewell, was also extremely helpful in the final stages of the project, as was the books production manager, Lisa Eaton.

We would like to thank our current colleagues, students, and support staff at the University of North Texas and at Southern Methodist University. Harry Benshoff ’s research and teaching assistants at UNT have contributed to the project in different ways. We’d also like to thank our anonymous readers and especially Alexander Doty, Peter Lehman, David Lugowski, Jacqueline Foertsch, and Travis Sutton, all of whom read various chapters and offered constructive feedback. We also wish to thank those readers who wrote or spoke to us after the first edition was published. Their feedback (and occasional corrections!) continues to matter to us. Much of the new material in the second edition came directly from their suggestions on how to make the book even better.

This book is dedicated to our families and friends, the people who have taught us and instilled in us the values of diversity, understanding, education, and love – in both our professional and personal lives. Such acts of sharing can lead to greater understanding and compassion across families, across communities, and across the world. We hope this book encourages people to examine and understand the biases and shaping discourses of contemporary American culture, so that the future may not just promise but also deliver the goal of equality for all Americans, regardless of race, class, gender, sexuality, or ability.

The authors and publisher wish to acknowledge the copyright material used in this book:

pp. 18–19: The Lion King, copyright © 1993, The Walt Disney Co.

p. 18: top, left. Photo: Umberto Adaggi

p. 18: top, right. Photo: Michael Ansell

p. 27: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, copyright © 1984, Paramount

p. 31: “Automatic Vaudeville (1904-05),” courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York, The Byron Collection

p. 32: The Comet Theatre, courtesy of the Quigley Photographic Archive, Georgetown University Library

p. 33: The Majestic Theatre, courtesy of the Quigley Photographic Archive, Georgetown University Library

p. 35: MGM Studios, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 38: John Garfield, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 41: Rocky, copyright © 1976, United Artists

p. 42: Cinemark Marquee, authors’ private collection

p. 59: Going My Way, copyright © 1944, Paramount

p. 60: The Quiet Man, copyright © 1952, Republic

p. 63: Little Caesar, copyright © 1930, Warner Bros.

p. 64: The Godfather, copyright © 1972, Paramount

p. 68: The Jazz Singer, copyright © 1927, Warner Bros.

p. 74: Crash, dir. Paul Haggis, copyright © 2004, Lions Gate Films

p. 75: Funny Girl, copyright © 1968, Columbia

p. 80: The Birth of a Nation, copyright © 1915, Griffith

p. 83: Stepin Fetchit, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 84: The Little Colonel, copyright © 1935, 20th Century-Fox

p. 86: Pinky, copyright © 1949, 20th Century-Fox

p. 87: Dorothy Dandridge, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 88: Sidney Poitier, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 93: Get On the Bus, dir. Spike Lee, copyright © 1996, Columbia/Tri-Star. Photo: Lester Sloan

p. 96: Hustle & Flow, dir. Craig Brewer, copyright © 2005, MTV Films/Paramount Classics

p. 98: Bamboozled, dir. Spike Lee, copyright © 2000, New Line Cinema. Photo: David Lee/New Line

p. 109: The Lone Ranger, copyright © 1949-1957, ABC-TV

p. 112: Cheyenne Autumn, copyright © 1964, Warner Bros. Photo: Kobal Collection

p. 114: Billy Jack, copyright © 1971, Warner Bros.

p. 116: Last of the Mohicans, copyright © 1992, 20th Century-Fox. Photos: Frank Connor

p. 119: Smoke Signals, dir. Chris Eyre, copyright © 1998, Miramax. Photo: Jill Sabella 120: The Education of Little Tree, dir. Richard Friedenberg, copyright © 1997, Paramount. Photo: Jan Thijs

p. 127: Warner Oland as Charlie Chan, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 128: The Mask of Fu Manchu, copyright © 1932, MGM/Universal

p. 129: Anna May Wong, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 130: Keye Luke, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 135: Russell Wong, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 137: Ang Lee directingSense and Sensibility, copyright © 1995, Columbia

p. 139: Mississippi Masala, dir, Mira Nair, copyright © 1991, The Samuel Goldwyn Company

p. 141: Eat a Bowl of Tea, copyright © 1990, Columbia

p. 146: Ramon Novarro, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 148: Dolores Del Rio, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 151: Sombra Verde (a.k.a.Untouched), copyright © 1954, Calderon Productions

p. 158: From Dusk Till Dawn, dir. Robert Rodriguez, copyright © 1996, Dimension

p. 161: My Family/Mi Familia, dir. Gregory Nava, copyright © 1995, New Line. Photo: Rico Torres

p. 162: Spanglish, dir. James L. Brooks, copyright © 2004, Columbia Pictures

p. 176: Harold Lloyd, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 177: The Gold Rush, copyright © 1925, United Artists

p. 183: It Happened One Night, copyright © 1934, Columbia

p. 185: The Grapes of Wrath, copyright © 1940, 20th Century-Fox

p. 194: Easy Rider, copyright © 1969, Columbia

p. 195: Five Easy Pieces, copyright © 1970, BBS/Columbia

p. 197: The Honeymooners, copyright © 1952-1957, CBS-TV

p. 201: Norma Rae, copyright © 1979, 20th Century-Fox

p. 203: Titanic, dir. James Cameron, copyright © 1997, 20th Century-Fox and Paramount

p. 205: Bulworth, dir. Warren Beatty, copyright © 1998, 20th Century-Fox. Photos: Sidney Baldwin

p. 219: Mary Pickford, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 221: Theda Bara, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 223: Clara Bow, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 226: Dorothy Arzner, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 228: Mae West, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 229: Imitation of Life, copyright © 1934, Universal

pp. 235 -6: All that Heaven Allows, copyright © 1955, Universal

p. 241: How to Marry a Millionaire, copyright © 1953, 20th Century-Fox

p. 247: Betty Grable, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 249: Footlight Parade, copyright © 1933, Warner Bros.

p. 250: Gilda, copyright © 1946, Columbia

p. 252: Gold Diggers of 1933, copyright © 1933, Warner Bros.

p. 261: John Wayne, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 263: The Son of the Sheik, copyright © 1922, Paramount

p. 265: Public Enemy, copyright © 1931, Warner Bros.

p. 267: I Was a Male War Bride, copyright © 1949, 20th Century-Fox

p. 268: Sands of Iwo Jima, copyright © 1949, Republic

p. 270: Double Indemnity, copyright © 1944, Paramount

p. 271: T-Men, copyright © 1947, Eagle-Lion

p. 273: Dead Reckoning, copyright © 1947, Columbia

p. 275: James Dean, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 276: Rock Hudson fromSend Me No Flowers, copyright © 1964, Universal

p. 282: The Sting, copyright © 1973, Universal

p. 286: Roseanne, copyright © 1988-97, Carsey-Werner Company/ABC-TV

p. 288: Rambo, copyright © 1985, Tri-Star

p. 290: Halloween, copyright © 1978, Falcon/Anchor Bay Entertainment

p. 291: Penny Marshall, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 292: Lost in Translation, dir. Sophia Coppola, copyright © 2003, Focus Features/ Universal

p. 295: Martha Coolidge directingReal Genius, copyright © 1985, Tri-Star

p. 297: The Ballad of Little Jo, copyright © 1993, JoCo/Fine Line. Photo: Bill Foley

p. 299: Thelma and Louise, copyright © 1991, MGM-Pathe

p. 300: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, dir. Simon West, copyright © 2001, Paramount

p. 313: William Haines, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 315: Morocco, copyright © 1930, Paramount

p. 318: Showboat, copyright © 1936, Universal

p. 319: The Philadelphia Story, copyright © 1940, MGM

p. 323: Tea and Sympathy, copyright © 1956, MGM

p. 327: The Maltese Falcon, copyright © 1941, Warner Bros.

p. 332: The Killing of Sister George, copyright © 1968, Palomar Pictures/Cinerama Releasing

p. 333: Boys in the Band, copyright © 1970, Leo/Cinema Center

p. 335: Making Love, copyright © 1982, 20th Century-Fox. Photo: Wynn Hammer

p. 341: Will & Grace, copyright © 1998-2006, NBC-TV

p. 344: Gus Van Sant directingTo Die For, copyright © 1995, Columbia. Photo: Kerry Hayes

p. 345: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, dir. Maria Maggenti, copyright © 1995, Smash Pictures/Fine Line. Photo: Alyson Levy/Fine Line

p. 346: Love! Valour! Compassion!, dir. Joe Mantello, copyright © 1997, Fine Line. Photo: Attila Dory

p. 350: Boys Don’t Cry, dir. Kimberly Pierce, copyright © 2000, Killer Films/FoxSearchlight. Photo: Bill Matlock

p. 351: Far From Heaven, dir. Todd Haynes, copyright © 2002, Focus Features/ Universal

p. 365: Son of Frankenstein, copyright © 1939, Universal

p. 367: The Wizard of Oz, copyright © 1939, MGM

p. 368: Willow, dir. Ron Howard, copyright © 1988, MGM

p. 373: The Miracle Worker, copyright © 1962, United Artists/MGM

p. 378: Children of a Lesser God, dir. Randa Haines, copyright © 1986, Paramount

p. 380: The Station Agent, dir. Thomas McCarthy, copyright © 2003, Miramax

p. 382: Sound and Fury, dir. Josh Aronson, copyright © 2000, Aronsonfilm/Artistic License

p. 383: Murderball, dirs. Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, copyright © 2005, MTV Films/Paramount

p. 387: Queen Christina, copyright © 1933, MGM

p. 389: The Old Maid, copyright © 1939, Warner Bros.

p. 390: Carmen Miranda, unidentified publicity photo, authors’ personal collection

p. 392: APatch of Blue, copyright © 1965, MGM

p. 394: Erin Brockovich, dir. Steven Soderbergh, copyright © 2000, Jersey Films/Columbia TriStar

p. 396: 8 Mile, dir. Curtis Hanson, copyright © 2002, Imagine Entertainment/ Universal

p. 398: Better Luck Tomorrow, dir. Justin Lin, copyright © 2002, MTV Films/ Paramount

p. 400: Saving Face, dir. Alice Wu, copyright © 2004, Sony Pictures Classics

p. 402: Crash, dir. Paul Haggis, copyright © 2004, Lions Gate Films

p. 404: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, dir. Jane Anderson, copyright © 2005, Dreamworks SKG

p. 406: Brokeback Mountain, dir. Ang Lee, copyright © 2005, Focus Features/ Universal

p. 408: Quinceanera, dir. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, copyright © 2006, Sony Pictures Classics

The publisher apologizes for any errors or omissions in the above list and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

America on Film is a textbook designed to introduce undergraduate students to issues of diversity within American film. It is the first synthetic and historical text of its kind, and provides a comprehensive overview of the industrial, socio-cultural, and aesthetic factors that have shaped and continue to shape cinematic representations of race, class, gender, sexuality, and physical ability. The book aims to chronicle the cinematic history of various cultural groups, stimulate discussion of human difference, examine forces and institutions of bias, and ultimately provoke thought about the relationship between film and American national culture.

This textbook can be used in a variety of classroom settings and at a variety of educational levels. Primarily, it is suited for a class on media culture and diversity issues, although we have also used it as a supplemental text in basic “Introduction to Film Studies” and “American Film History” classes. The book could also be used for courses in twentieth-century American history, cultural and American studies, and courses devoted to specific topics surrounding race, class, gender, sexuality, and/or ability. In addition, courses in the sociology and/or psychology of human difference may also find the book useful.

The text was written with first and second year undergraduate students in mind, but would also be appropriate for advanced high school or college-prep students. The book can also be used in higher-level undergraduate or graduate student seminars, although such classes would ideally useAmerica on Film in conjunction with more advanced materials and/or other primary readings. Because of its user-friendly style and general accessibility – everyone loves movies! – it may also be possible to use the text within certain types of corporate or social seminars designed to stimulate discussion of human diversity.

America on Film is divided into six parts. The first outlines the basic terms and issues of cultural theory and cinematic representation. Each of the following parts is devoted to a specific aspect of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability, and each begins with a helpful “What is ... ?” introductory essay. Part II examines the cultural construction of whiteness as well as the complex historical lineages of African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latino representations. Part III explores issues of American capitalism and examines the cinematic representation of class struggle before and after the Great Depression. Part IV explores the changing images of both femininity and masculinity within American film, and includes a chapter on how Hollywood film form itself has been critiqued as having a male bias. Part V explores how various forms of sexuality have (or have not) been figured on American movie screens. Part VI analyzes various ideas about physical ability, and how what is termed disability has been represented across American film history. The final chapter, comprised exclusively of individual “case studies” (in-depth film analyses), emphasizes the multiple and complex links between all of these various forms of identity markers.

The book is comprised of a total of 17 chapters. While this number exceeds the typical number of weeks in a semester-long course of study, the text has been designed to adapt to those parameters. Generally, each week of any given semester can be devoted to a single chapter ofAmerica on Film and a representative film screening, either shown in class or assigned as homework. (Many of the films suggested within the text for further screening are easily available from video stores and other commercial media outlets.) Depending on the preferences of the instructor, additional readings and/or screenings can be used in conjunction withAmerica on Film. Chapters may also be assigned on a more concentrated basis or even used “out of order,” although we have provided a logical and easy-to-follow structure for the issues discussed.

Each chapter ofAmerica on Film is organized within a broad historical framework, with specific theoretical concepts – including film genre, auteur theory, cultural studies, Orientalism, the “male gaze,” feminism, queer theory, etc. – integrated throughout. Each chapter features a concise and accessible overview of the topic at hand, a discussion of representative films, figures, and movements, a case study of a single film, and key terms highlighted in bold. Each chapter concludes with questions for discussion and a short bibliography and filmography. America on Film also contains a glossary of key terms, a comprehensive index, and over 130 photos and diagrams illustrating key points and figures.

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