American Film and Society since 1945 by Leonard Quart

By Leonard Quart

During this newest replace to American movie and Society given that 1945, the authors extend upon previous variations by way of including movies formerly overlooked, and increase their research of a couple of motion pictures by way of discussing how those works catch the temper and values of yank society in a selected decade. Interpretation of movies can contain direct connections with social and political matters, yet usually care for the real subtext of desires, wants, and displacements that the yank public feels. fresh motion pictures that current homosexual relationships and politics, corresponding to Brokeback Mountain and Milk, and that deal with race family members and concrete realistic Crash and worthwhile are tested. This fourth version additionally addresses adjustments within the sleek movie akin to convergence and the electronic revolution.

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The Jewish victim, Samuels (Sam Levene), is a war hero and an empathetic good guy, the film seeming to suggest that an ordinary Jewish scapegoat would be unable to elicit audience sympathy, only the extraordinary Jew being capable of eliciting moral or social concern. And by turning the homosexual victim of the novel into a Jew, the film demonstrated Hollywood’s timidity and fear during this period (homosexuals could not be dealt with in a sympathetic light in films of the 1940s). Finally, in its implicit belief that all problems of prejudice and racism are interchangeable, Hollywood manifested an unwillingness to deal with the particular historical and social experiences of different groups.

19 Its hero, George Bailey, is the most individualized and psychologically complex of Capra’s heroic everyman. George is decent, intelligent, caring, and doomed to living a life he finds constricting, devoid of adventure or great success. In fact, despite the good he does in town (he builds a subdivision of clean, inexpensive new homes), George sees himself as having no real identity, a failure. Unlike some of Capra’s earlier films, especially his populist trilogy (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Meet John Doe), this film is more meditative, less dependent on montage, and more dependent on lengthy close-ups of George Bailey isolated within a frame.

30 It is this inexhaustible sense of energy, joy, and confidence that more than anything else characterizes the 1940s and its films. Certainly, there were dark clouds looming, such as HUAC’s threat to sap Hollywood’s vitality. indd 37 6/7/2011 10:55:27 AM 38 AMERICAN FILM AND SOCIETY SINCE 1945 film noir had raised the curtain on a darker side of the American psyche and character. Nevertheless, for most Americans, the 1940s—particularly the late 1940s — were the first relatively unruffled period of peace and prosperity that they had enjoyed in almost two decades.

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