The 1940s• Dip in profits and productivity in the wake of Pearl Harbor and involvement in WWI around 1941• However, between the years of 1943 and 1946, Hollywood was at it’s most efficient and most profitable• 1946 saw theatres admissions at an all time high
The 1940s• Hollywood responded to the war effort whether as combatants, propagandists, documentary, newsreel or short film-makers, educators, fund-raisers for relief funds or war bonds, entertainers, or morale- boosters• Films started to take on a Clarke Gable joined the Air more realistic and escapist Force in 1943 tone• Male actors were in short supply as many of them enlisted or were called up for duty
The 1940s• Anti-fascist films were one way of attacking the Nazi dictators and fascism• Baring in mind, many of the top dogs at the big Hollywood studios were from oppressed countries or were Jewish, undertones of anti- fascism and even blatant propaganda was not uncommon• Even German actors risked their own popularity by playing detestable Nazi characters
The Birth of Film Noir • Film Noir films depicted the way Hollywood felt as it faced its greatest challenges during the war and post-war periods - darker and more cynical • The somber, pessimistic genre, literally meaning "black film,” was already germinating and evolving from 30s gangster films - with dark plots, untrustworthy femme fatales, and tough, but cynical, fatalistic heroes • Has its roots in German expressionism
The Birth of Film Noir• Classic Hollywood film has always provided viewers with a happy ending• Specifically, the FAMILY has always been promoted as a sanctuary, a safe haven• This is promoted through American culture in general• Often in Hollywood films, men and their female love interest would marry• WWII encouraged the idea of the nuclear family further
The Birth of Film Noir • Film Noir however, begins to readdress the typical values promoted by Hollywood for decades • They also sought to craft a new visual style which, until now, had rarely been seen in Hollywood film • In many of these films, the criminal justice system is incompetent, the white-collar office is dull and dehumanizing, the police force is corrupt and even theThe Maltese Falcon (1941) federal government is threatening and oppressive
Women in NoirWith few variations, noir films divide women into threecategories:1. The femme fatale, an independent, ambitious woman who feels confined within a marriage or a close male-female relationship and attempts to break free, usually with violent results;2. The nurturing woman, who is often depicted as dull, featureless, and, in the end, unattainable — a chance at conventional marriage that is denied to the hero;3. The "marrying type," a woman who threatens the hero by insisting that he marry her and accept his conventional role as husband and father. Each type of film noir woman functions in a way that undermines societys image of the traditional family.
Women in Noir• Noir films usually stop short of rejecting the family altogether.• While criticizing the family and marriage in a fairly overt way, film noir cannot resist the urge to restore or reinforce the family, even if it is only at the last minute.• This restoration involves punishing or destroying women (and men) who transgress the boundaries of "normal" family relations or providing a tacked-on "happy ending" in which the hero marries the nurturing woman or even a converted femme fatale who has learned to accept her proper role.• In either case, the ending contradicts the content and style of the film itself.
Women American Culture• Nina Leibman: ‘The dominant social imperative of post-war America with its emphasis on the importance of nuclear family life, the proper role of the sexes, the superiority of suburbia. . . . McCalls magazine launched an issue on family "togetherness" as the crucial factor in the family enclave.
Women American Culture• Nina Leibman: ‘Housewifery became professionalized with a plethora of books and articles extolling the virtues of domesticity and urging women to leave their "Rosie-the- Riveter" jobs for the less tangible rewards of child-rearing and housekeeping. In addition, these articles cautioned both men and women to assume their proper roles lest their aberrant behaviour result in untold psychological trauma’ On The Big Heart (1953) ‘…very much constructed along traditional lines: the working father, the helpmate mother, the child who is both nuisance and source of comfort.’
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
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
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)
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
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
• 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
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
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
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)
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)
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)