From one of our leading film historians and interpreters: a brilliantly researched, irresistibly witty, delightfully illustrated examination of "the marriage movie"; what it is (or isn't) and what it has to tell us about the movies--and ourselves.As long as there have been feature movies there have been marriage movies, and yet Hollywood has always been cautious about how to label them--perhaps because, unlike any other genre of film, the marriage movie resonates directly with the experience of almost every adult coming to see it. Here is "happily ever after"--except when things aren't happy, and when "ever after" is abruptly terminated by divorce, tragedy . . . or even murder. With her large-hearted understanding of how movies--and audiences--work, Jeanine Basinger traces the many ways Hollywood has tussled with this tricky subject, explicating the relationships of countless marriages from Blondie and Dagwood to the heartrending couple in the Iranian A Separation, from Tracy and Hepburn to Laurel and Hardy (a marriage if ever there was one) to Coach and his wife in Friday Night Lights. A treasure trove of insight and sympathy, illustrated with scores of wonderfully telling movie stills, posters, and ads.
From one of America's most renowned film scholars: a revelatory, perceptive, and highly readable look at the greatest silent film stars -- not those few who are fully appreciated and understood, like Chaplin, Keaton, Gish, and Garbo, but those who have been misperceived, unfairly dismissed, or forgotten. Here is Valentino, "the Sheik," who was hardly the effeminate lounge lizard he's been branded as; Mary Pickford, who couldn't have been further from the adorable little creature with golden ringlets that was her film persona; Marion Davies, unfairly pilloried in Citizen Kane; the original "Phantom" and "Hunchback," Lon Chaney; the beautiful Talmadge sisters, Norma and Constance. Here are the great divas, Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson; the great flappers, Colleen Moore and Clara Bow; the great cowboys, William S. Hart and Tom Mix; and the great lover, John Gilbert. Here, too, is the quintessential slapstick comedienne, Mabel Normand, with her Keystone Kops; the quintessential all-American hero, Douglas Fairbanks; and, of course, the quintessential all-American dog, Rin-Tin-Tin.This is the first book to anatomize the major silent players, reconstruct their careers, and give us a sense of what those films, those stars, and that Hollywood were all about. An absolutely essential text for anyone seriously interested in movies, and, with more than three hundred photographs, as much a treat to look at as it is to read.
An excellent storyteller, Basinger has ransacked the archives for an in-depth history of the policy in early movie making to "make" a star. The lives and careers of a number of stars are examined to demonstrate the policy--including Tyrone Power, Lana Turner, Deanna Durbin, and Norma Shearer--and concludes with the abandonment of the starmaking machine after WWII. Many b&w plates are included. Basinger, who teaches film studies at Wesleyan U. and curates their cinema archives, has written a number of books on film. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Now, Voyager, Stella Dallas, Leaver Her to Heaven, Imitation of Life, Mildred Pierce, Gilda...these are only a few of the hundreds of "women's films" that poured out of Hollywood during the thirties, forties, and fifties. The films were widely disparate in subject, sentiment, and technique, they nonetheless shared one dual purpose: to provide the audience (of women, primarily) with temporary liberation into a screen dream--of romance, sexuality, luxury, suffering, or even wickedness--and then send it home reminded of, reassured by, and resigned to the fact that no matter what else she might do, a woman's most important job was...to be a woman. Now, with boundless knowledge and infectious enthusiasm, Jeanine Basinger illuminates the various surprising and subversive ways in which women's films delivered their message. Basinger examines dozens of films, exploring the seemingly intractable contradictions at the convoluted heart of the woman's genre--among them, the dilemma of the strong and glamorous woman who cedes her power when she feels it threatening her personal happiness, and the self-abnegating woman whose selflessness is not always as "noble" as it appears. Basinger looks at the stars who played these women and helps us understand the qualities--the right off-screen personae, the right on-screen attitudes, the right faces--that made them personify the woman's film and equipped them to make believable drama or comedy out of the crackpot plots, the conflicting ideas, and the exaggerations of real behavior that characterize these movies. In each of the films the author discusses--whether melodrama, screwball comedy, musical, film noir, western, or biopic--a woman occupies the center of her particular universe. Her story--in its endless variations of rags to riches, boy meets girl, battle of the sexes, mother love, doomed romance--inevitably sends a highly potent mixed message: Yes, you women belong in your "proper place" (that is, content with the Big Three of the women's film world--men, marriage, and motherhood), but meanwhile, and paradoxically, see what fun, glamour, and power you can enjoy along the way. A Woman's View deepens our understanding of the times and circumstances and attitudes out of which these movies were created.
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