Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226487755 Published October 2017
E-book $24.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226487892 Will Publish October 2017 Also Available From

Reinventing Hollywood

How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling

David Bordwell

Reinventing Hollywood

David Bordwell

592 pages | 157 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226487755 Published October 2017
E-book $24.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226487892 Will Publish October 2017
In the 1940s, American movies changed. Flashbacks began to be used in outrageous, unpredictable ways. Soundtracks flaunted voice-over commentary, and characters might pivot from a scene to address the viewer. Incidents were replayed from different characters’ viewpoints, and sometimes those versions proved to be false. Films now plunged viewers into characters’ memories, dreams, and hallucinations. Some films didn’t have protagonists, while others centered on anti-heroes or psychopaths. Women might be on the verge of madness, and neurotic heroes lurched into violent confrontations. Combining many of these ingredients, a new genre emerged—the psychological thriller, populated by women in peril and innocent bystanders targeted for death.
           
If this sounds like today’s cinema, that’s because it is. In Reinventing Hollywood, David Bordwell examines for the first time the full range and depth of trends that crystallized into traditions. He shows how the Christopher Nolans and Quentin Tarantinos of today owe an immense debt to the dynamic, occasionally delirious narrative experiments of the Forties. With verve and wit, Bordwell examines how a booming movie market during World War II allowed ambitious writers and directors to push narrative boundaries. Although those experiments are usually credited to the influence of Citizen Kane, Bordwell shows that similar impulses had begun in the late 1930s in radio, fiction, and theatre before migrating to film. And despite the postwar recession in the industry, the momentum for innovation continued. Some of the boldest films of the era came in the late forties and early fifties, as filmmakers sought to outdo their peers.
           
Through in-depth analyses of films both famous and virtually unknown, from Our Town and All About Eve to Swell Guy and The Guilt of Janet Ames, Bordwell assesses the era’s unique achievements and its legacy for future filmmakers. The result is a groundbreaking study of how Hollywood storytelling became a more complex art. Reinventing Hollywood is essential reading for all lovers of popular cinema.
 
Contents
Introduction    The Way Hollywood Told It 
Chapter 1        The Frenzy of Five Fat Years
Interlude: Spring 1940: Lessons from Our Town      
Chapter 2        Time and Time Again
Interlude: Kitty and Lydia, Julia and Nancy 
Chapter 3        Plots: The Menu         
Interlude: Schema and Revision, between Rounds   
Chapter 4        Slices, Strands, and Chunks  
Interlude: Mankiewicz: Modularity and Polyphony  
Chapter 5        What They Didn’t Know Was           
Interlude: Identity Thieves and Tangled Networks  
Chapter 6        Voices out of the Dark          
Interlude: Remaking Middlebrow Modernism          
Chapter 7        Into the Depths          
Chapter 8        Call It Psychology     
Interlude: Innovation by Misadventure         
Chapter 9        From the Naked City to Bedford Falls         
Chapter 10      I Love a Mystery       
Interlude: Sturges, or Showing the Puppet Strings   
Chapter 11      Artifice in Excelsis     
Interlude: Hitchcock and Welles: The Lessons of the Masters         
Conclusion      The Way Hollywood Keeps Telling It           
Acknowledgments     
Notes  
Index
Review Quotes
James Naremore
“No other critic or historian comes close to the sort of comprehensive discussion of the period that Bordwell gives in Reinventing Hollywood. With an encyclopedic knowledge of movie history, he seems to have seen everything. His research is prodigious, filled with fascinating details about how specific scripts were written and revised. Despite this, there isn’t a whiff of pretention in his writing, which is not only lucid but also witty and engaging.”
Malcolm Turvey, Tufts University
“In addition to the almost unparalleled breadth and depth of his research, Bordwell’s love of and admiration for the period’s experimentation and risk-taking comes through on every page. His exuberance is infectious, and again and again I found myself writing down titles of films—many of which I had not heard of before—I now want to see due to his impassioned account of their innovations. This is a singularly important book that powerfully brings to life a rich period of experimentation in Hollywood’s history.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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