American Cinema Post-WWII (DAPS 6 and 7)


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American Cinema Post-WWII (DAPS 6 and 7)

  1. 1. America Cinema Post-WWII
  2. 2. 1950s America…• Post-war affluence• Increased choice in leisure time activities• The Korean War• Middle class values• Rise of fast food• Drive-ins• Jazz music• White racism in the South McDonalds had their first• Advent of television… franchise in 1955
  3. 3. Television• By the start of the 1950s, television was becoming popular and more readily available• In 1951, NBC became America’s first nationwide TV network• A few years later, 50% of American households had a TV• In 1953, the Academy Awards were broadcast for the first time, receiving the networks largest audience in TV history• By 1954, NBCs Tonight Show was becoming one of the most popular late-night TV shows
  4. 4. The Studios• Decline in theatre admissions forced Hollywood’s studios to rethink• They jumped from making feature films to TV prgrammes and films• Feature film budgets drop to an average of $1million• By the mid-1950s, the big studios started selling the rights of their old films to networks• The Wizard of OZ (1939) was the first feature film to be shown on television, in 1956
  5. 5. The Studios• In 1955, the ABC TV show Warner Brothers Presents was the first television program produced by Warner Brothers Pictures, and marked the introduction of the major Hollywood studios into television production• In the same year, Twentieth Century-Fox Hour played on CBS and MGM Parade on ABC• Warner Bros made the most of the television boom, producing more TV shows, such as: their first hit series Cheyenne (1955-1963 with Clint Walker), Maverick (1957- 1962, first with James Garner) and 77 Sunset Strip (1958- 1964)
  6. 6. The Studios• One positive aspect of television was that it was giving many directors a platform to show off their talents• Because of the emergence of television as a major entertainment medium, many studios converted their sound stages for use in television production.• Because labor was cheaper abroad, many producers were taking their film production overseas
  7. 7. The War Against Television• The width-to-height aspect ratio of most Hollywood films before the 50s was 4:3• This is same as early television sets• So in its war against television, the film industry had three major campaigns involving technical advances with wide- screen experiences, color, and scope:• Cinerama• 3-D and Smell-O-Vision• CinemaScope• Other Widescreen Formats and Processes
  8. 8. • Paramounts wrap-around, big-screen Cinerama debuted in 1952, a break-through technique that required three cameras, three projectors, interlocking, semi-curved (at 146 degrees) screens, and four-track stereo sound. It made audiences feel that they were at the center of the action• The first film using the three-strip cinerama process was This is Cinerama (1952), a travelogue of the worlds vacation spots, with a thrilling roller-coaster ride• Popular for about a decade but was costly and the novelty wore off
  9. 9. 3D Movies• In the same year as the debut of Cinerama (1952), showmanship and gimmicks like 3-D were used to bring audiences back• Special polarized, stereoscopic goggles or cardboard glasses worn by viewers made the action jump off the screen• In reality, the glasses were unpopular, clunky and the viewing was blurry, although it was difficult (and expensive) for theatre owners to get cinema-goers to give them back. The 3-D effect was unable to compensate for the inferior level of most of the films
  10. 10. 3D Movies• The first full-length 3-D feature sound film was UAs cheaply-made jungle adventure Bwana Devil (1952)) by writer/director Arch Oboler, and starring Robert Stack - its taglines advertised: "A Lion in Your Lap" and "A Lover In Your Arms.”• in horror films (Warners and B-film maker Andre de Toths House of Wax (1953) with horror master Vincent Price, a remake of Warners The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)) - the first 3-D horror film to be in the top ten box office hits in its year of release
  11. 11. Aroma-rama and Smell-O-vision• Other short-lived film fads in this decade and afterwards, that were designed to tear viewers away from their TVs, included Charles Weiss 1959 system of pumping "Oriental" scents into the theatre through the air-conditioning system - it was dubbed Aroma-Rama• Smell-O-Vision was a similar process that came slightly later in 1960, developed by the Swiss-born Hans Laube, in which 30 different smells were injected into a movie theatres seats when triggered by various points in the films soundtrack• Only one film was made with this gimmicky process - Michael Todd Jr.s Scent of Mystery (1960)
  12. 12. CinemaScope• When Cinerama and stereoscopic 3-D died almost as soon as they were initiated, 20th Century Foxs CinemaScope became cheaper and more convenient because it used a simple anamorphic lens to create a widescreen effect• The aspect ratio (width to height) of CinemaScope was 2.35:1• The first film released commercially in CinemaScope was 20th Century Foxs and director Henry Kosters Biblical sword-and-sandal epic The Robe (1953)
  13. 13. EPICS!• The 1950s saw several ‘epics’ created• These had huge sets, large budgets, popular stars and were often extremely long• Why do you think creating an ‘epic’ film was a high risk strategy at the time?• Cinema in decline• Novelties (3D, Aromarama…• High cost• No guarantee of a solid financial return The Egyptian (1954)
  14. 14. Cold War Movies• Despite the Korean War being over, fears about communism lingered• This was promoted by anti- communist rhetoric used by the US Government and more importantly, several films made in Hollywood at the time
  15. 15. Musicals• Musicals also became extremely popular during the 1950s• It is often referred to as the ‘Golden Age’ of musicals• This decade also witnessed the prodigious rise of colorful, escapist, lavish, classic musicals (mostly from MGM and its production genius Arthur Freed, and from directors Stanley Donen and Vincente Minnelli) that benefited from wide-screen exposure
  16. 16. Censorship• Since the mid 1930s, films exhibited a seal and number, showing that they were in compliance with the Motion Picture Production Code Administration• The Hays Production Code was amended in 1951, its first major revision since 1934• The first studio-produced film from Hollywood that was released without the seal, deliberately, was producer/director Otto Premingers daring The Moon is Blue (1953)
  17. 17. The End Of The Studio System• In 1938, The U.S. Supreme Court decided that the major film studios represented a monopoly, and in United States vs. Paramount Pictures, a major antitrust action was initiated• Two years later, the studios agreed to stop buying theaters, eliminate blind booking (requiring theaters to rent films without seeing them first) and limit block booking to five films• But, that didnt fix things, and four years later the major studios still held major control over the motion picture industry — especially when it came to the first-run exhibition of films in major cities
  18. 18. The End Of The Studio System• Antitrust action was again launched, and this time the five major studios — MGM-Loews, RKO, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox — responded by divesting themselves of all theaters• But, that resulted in another problem. Without the previous level of control and profit guarantees, the big banks were now reluctant to finance films• The antitrust action spelled the end of the studio system and the beginning of an era in which production companies primarily made films on a project-by-project basis
  19. 19. Blaxploitation• Until the 1970s, African Americans had always been either absent, played by Caucasian actors or played in demeaning and negative roles• Similarly, there was very little room for black directors to ply their trade• However, by the 1970s, the racial divide had reduced (slightly) and African America business men and women, directors and producers could create products, mainly for a black audience• However, institutionalised racism was still rife in Hollywood and as such, seldom did the major studios back, fund, produce, distribute or exhibit Blaxploitation films• Blaxploitation films were very low budget and (as their name suggests) were made for the purpose of exhibiting African Americans in leading roles and were aimed at a black audience
  20. 20. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (1971)• Director: Melvin Van Peebles• Producer: Melvin Van Peebles• Writer: Melvin Van Peebles• Music: Melvin Van Peebles• Distributor: Cinemation Industries• Budget: $150,000 ($50,000 forwarded by Bill Cosby)• Box Office: $15,200,000• Initially, only two theatres would show the film
  21. 21. The Rise Of Indies• Originally, independent producers and production companies were out-of-the-mainstream operations that resisted—some might even say rebelled against—the perceived content and business-minded limitations of mainstream production companies• What might these limitations have been?• This independent film production, especially as it was originally forged, was important to filmmaking because:• It provided a training ground for new talent• These films introduced and explored topics that were seen as too avant-garde or politically risky for mainstream producers• They introduced new techniques that were later adopted by mainstream producers• Because they typically made films at a fraction of the cost of those made by the major studios, they could tailor content to small, select audiences
  22. 22. The Rise Of Indies• Until recently, so-called "independent films" were typically low budget films that screened at special interest theaters and cable and satellite channels and didnt make it as mainstream releases• However, by 2007, the majority of the films that won Oscars were technicality "independent," in that they did not originate with major studios. It was only later that they were picked up for major studio distribution• TASK: Find examples of an ‘indie’ film that has done extremely well at the box office and at awards ceremonies
  23. 23. The Industry Today• Since the 1950s, the number of movie screens has dropped dramatically mainly because of TV• However, after this major slump and after some target audience and content adjustments by Hollywood the number of screens started to steadily increase• In 1970, the number was about 10,000; in 2001 it was about 25,000• The American Film Industry continues to fight against new technology, increasing competition from international film industries and economic instability
  24. 24. Tax – Section 181• This year, President Obama made filmmaking in America much more desirable by enacting ‘Section 181 Tax Deduction• Here are some of the main points:-100% of the motion picture costs are deductible in the same year ofinvestment. 
- 75% of the motion picture must be shot in the US toqualify for Section 181.
- There is a 15 to 20 million dollar budgetcap.
- There is no minimum film production budget cost.
- TV pilots,TV episodes (up to 44), short films, music videos and feature films allqualify for Section 181.
- Section 181 can be applied to active incomeor passive income.
- Investors can be either individuals orbusinesses.
- Section 181 is retroactive.
- There is no expectation forfilm distribution or film completion.• Why might this have been enacted?
  25. 25. Brief Time!• Over the past few weeks, we have looked at Hollywood and British production contexts• You are now going to undertake some research to further your understanding of production contexts by completing an WELL RESEARCHED article which looks at two films; an early film and its remake.• Read over the brief very carefully!