Consolidating major figures and film movements into their decade of greatest influence or prestige, this “no-nonsense” book offers a generously illustrated, concise, and very readable history of fiction movies with an emphasis on American cinema. Eclectic in methodology and written in a plain English style that audiences can relate to, it examines the full scope of traditional film history and criticism, viewing film as both an art and an industry— as it mirrors popular audience values, social ideologies, and historical epochs. Film discussions include titles such as Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, There's Something About Mary, Face Off, the Lion King, Saving Private Ryan, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, Choosing Amy, The Piano, Menace II Society, Sweet Hereafter, The English Patient, Sense and Sensibility, Shakespeare in live, The Full Monty, The Crying Game, Life is Beautiful, and like Water for Chocolate. For anyone who enjoys going to, and thinking about, the movies.
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WE SET OUT TO WRITE A REALLY BRIEF BOOK. Just the basics, no frills. After considerable deliberation, we finally decided on a mechanical form of organization by decade. We then proceeded to cheat left and right, cramming major figures and film movements into their decade of greatest influence or prestige. Here, then, is a bare-bones history of fiction movies, copiously illustrated with photos, many of them rarely reprinted. Since this book was written primarily with an American audience in mind, we have emphasized the American cinema. Eclectic in our methodology, we have adhered to a broad consensus tradition of film history and criticism; except for a humanist bias, we have had no theoretical axes to grind. Nor have we attempted to dazzle the reader with a fresh array of jargon; the text is in plain English, with essential terms in boldface to indicate that they are defined in the glossary. Our main concern has been with film as art, but when appropriate we also discuss film as industry and as a reflection of popular audience values, social ideologies, and historical epochs. History books are filled with value judgments, and this one is no exception. We have not hesitated to call a bomb a bomb. On the whole, however, our attitude has been similar to that of Andre Breton, the founder of the surrealist movement, who said, "The cinema? Three cheers for darkened rooms." Acknowledgments
We gratefully acknowledge the input received from the following reviewers of the manuscript: Marilyn K. Ackerman, Foot Hill College; Susan Scrivner, Bemidji State University; Jack Riggs, Dekalb College-Gwinnett Campus; and Davis A. March, Rowan Cabarrus Community College.
Others who have helped us include Jonathan Forman of Cleveland Cinemas; Dave Wittkowsky of the Cleveland Film Society and International Film Festival; and the CWRU Observer. Mary Araneo performed her customary miracles in her layout design, Lisa Sloane went beyond the call of duty in designing the cover, and Phil Miller of Prentice Hall expedited matters by being sane and rational. We thank them all.
LOUIS GIANNETTI is a Professor of English and Film at Case Western Reserve University inn Cleveland. In addition to being a professional movie reviewer for several years, he has written many scholarly articles for such journals as Literature Film Quarterly, The Western Humanities Review, and Film Criticism. Dr. Giannetti is also the author of the popular textbook, UNDERTANDING MOVIES, EIGHTH EDITION (Prentice Hall, 1999). Other books include a collection of theoretical essays, GODARD AND OTHERS: ESSAY ON FILM FORM (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press and Tantivy Press, 1975), and MASTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA (Prentice Hall, 1981), a history of American fiction films from the perspective of eighteen major figures.
SCOTT EYMAN is the Books Editor for The Palm Beach Post. He has won awards for his journalism, criticism, and television writing. His other books include FIVE AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHERS (Scarcrow Press, 1987); MARY PICKFORD: AMERICA'S SWEETHEART (Donald I. Fine, 1990); ERNST LUBITSCH: LAUGHTER IN PARADISE (Simon & Schuster, 1993); THE SPEED OF SOUND: HOLLYWOOD AND THE TALKIE REVOLUTION 1926-1930 (Simon & Schuster, 1997); and PRINT THE LEGEND: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN FORD (Simon & Schuster, 1999).
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