Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959

Schaefer, Eric

Published by Duke University Press Books
ISBN 10: 0822323532 / ISBN 13: 9780822323532
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Synopsis: Unashamed nudists, high-flying hopheads, brazen strippers, vicious vice lords, and high school girls who find themselves “in trouble” comprise the population of exploitation films. In the first full-scale history of these low-budget movies of decades past, Eric Schaefer reveals how this pioneering form of “trash film” purveyed the forbidden thrills of explicit sexual behavior, drug use, and vice that the mainstream movie industry could not show.
Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is a meticulously researched, interdisciplinary study that is informed by a wide range of sources—including both mainstream and industry newspapers and periodicals, archival accounts, personal interviews, and the films themselves. Schaefer begins by exploring the unique mode of production of exploitation movies, their distribution, and the outrageous exhibition practices that were rooted in the traditions of sideshows and carnivals. His close analysis of dozens of films, such as The Road to Ruin, Modern Motherhood, One Way Ticket to Hell, and The Wages of Sin demonstrates that these films were more than simply “bad” movies. By situating exploitation films in a historical context and organizing them according to the social problems they addressed, Schaefer shows how they evolved during a period of forty years and how, during that time, they shaped public policies and attitudes. Finally, he focuses on the changes in the postwar American film industry that led to the decline of the classical exploitation film and set the stage for the rise of “sexploitation” in the 1960s.
Engagingly written, illustrated with rare photographs, posters, production stills, and ad slicks, and offering a full filmography, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! reveals a forgotten side of film history and American culture. It will delight and inform those interested in film history, cultural studies, American studies and history, and the many fans of exploitation films.

Review: Eric Schaefer's readable history of exploitation movies begins with a description of what the genre ain't--the rabid "nudie pics" of Russ Meyer (Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill!) and the drecky, knowing arthouse flicks made by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey (Andy Warhol's Dracula). Though these camp movies are sometimes labeled "exploitation," they do not exactly fit Schaefer's definition. For him, exploitation is the brand of movie that puts nudity and antisocial behavior up on the screen in the name of civic-mindedness and healthy social conscience--and with a wink. Between 1919 and 1959, sexual hygiene and antidrug movies with kicky, lascivious titles such as No Greater Sin (1939), Call Girls (1959), Nudist Land (1937), and Paroled from the Big House (1938) traveled through the country outside regular theater chains, advertising themselves as "shocking" yet educational. The posters didn't slouch either. No Greater Sin promised viewers, "You'll gasp, you'll wince, you'll shudder... so powerful, many will faint!" Schaefer argues that studying the films tells us cartloads about the way Puritanical America grappled with complex issues like premarital sex, drugs, infidelity, and alternative lifestyles. And he may be right: by 1959, audiences had begun turning to European films like And God Created Woman, films that treated exploitation movie subjects legitimately. The story of a lost culture, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is finally an archaeology of the immediate past that throws our present incoherence about sex, public-mindedness, virtue, and immediate gratification into high and sometimes hilarious relief. With priceless historical black-and-white photographs. --Lyall Bush

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Title: Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of ...
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Binding: Hardcover
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