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UCI Introduction Hollywoods Fall and Rise Exam Practice

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Question 1
Introduction_Key Concepts & Histories_Third Cinema Lecture Video Question
Since the 16thc., the world ordering system that creates extremely
unequal and uneven relationships between human beings;
That uses race to rationalize and naturalize these unequal relationships;
is called_________________________.
Link of lecture video:
Question 2
Introduction_Key Concepts & Histories_Third Cinema Lecture Video Question
According to the video you were asked to watch, War by Other Means,
what was the principle weapon the US and other former colonists used to
regain control over the Third World’s resources and labor?
Link of lecture video:
Question 3
Third Cinema_Battle of Algiers Lecture Video and Stam and Spence Reading
According to Stam and Spence, _____________________ was more
significant for empowering, anti-racist representations than so-called
“positive images”.
Link of lecture video:
Question 4
Third Cinema_Battle of Algiers Lecture Video
Watch the following clip and, first, identify three different cinematic
techniques being used that are characteristic of Third Cinema and
create a spectator identification with the colonized. Make sure to clearly
describe and explain how those techniques work and are expressing
Third Cinema aesthetics and principles. (1pt for identifying each
technique [3pts total] and 1pt for each description and explanation [3pts
Link of video:
Question 5
Third Cinema_Hour of the Furnaces_Xala_Lecture Video
Solanas and Getino’s The Hour of the Furnaces borrows from and
pays homage to __________________ , especially in its attempt to
awaken its viewer and create new meanings through the collision of
Link of lecture video:
Question 6
Third Cinema_Hour of the Furnaces_Xala_Lecture Video
Short Answer Question:
What connection can you make between the national bourgeoisie,
the African elites, critiqued in Xala(and in Fanon and Solanas and
Getino’s analyses) and the police officer Dawson in The Spook Who Sat
by the Door?
Link of lecture video:
Question 7
Political Modernism and New German Cinema Lecture Video and FH textbook
(chapter 23)
Watch the following clip from Tout Va Bien (Jean-Luc Godard, 1972). Name
three techniques used that are representative of Brechtian political art
techniques. Please provide details from the clip to explain how these techniques
work. (3pts for each technique, 3pts for explanations: total 6pts).
Clip of this movie Tout Va Bien
– watch 2:00 to 13:25
Link of movie:

Link of lecture video:
Question 8
Political Modernism and New German Cinema Lecture Video
Fassbinder uses very stylized framing techniques in his films to
create an obvious voyeuristic positioning for his viewers. Name one
example from the film The Marriage of Maria Braun, where Fassbinder
places the viewer in a position of voyeurism. Please describe the shot
and where it is in the film. Also, please explain the effect this positioning
has on the viewer. (3pts: 1pt. example, 1pt. description and location, 1pt.
explanation of effect)
Link of lecture video:
Bonnie and Clyde
Star Wars
he postwar struggles for racial equality in the United States achieved
partial success in the 1960s during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy
and Lyndon Johnson. Both administrations promoted liberal domestic policies (which Johnson termed the “Great Society”), including the passage
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” instituted
work-­study programs in colleges and created the Job Corps. At the same
time, these administrations carried on the policy of containing Communism within the East-­West conception of the Cold War. The United States
had begun to support the French against Ho Chi Minh’s Communist forces
in Vietnam in the 1950s. In 1963, the year in which Kennedy was assassinated, America decisively entered the hostilities. Over the following nine
years, the United States would send over two million soldiers into a war that
became increasingly unpopular at home.
The early 1960s saw a new frankness about sexual behavior, accelerated
by the invention of the birth-­control pill and changing views of women’s
roles. A freer social milieu encouraged the “counterculture,” that broad tendency among the young to drop out of the mainstream and experiment with
sex and drugs. The counterculture also played a role in sustaining the New
Left, a radical political stance that distanced itself from both traditional
liberalism and 1930s-­style socialism and Communism. Soon, student movements were arguing for more domestic social change and US withdrawal
from Vietnam.
Between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, social activists clashed
with authority to an extent not seen since the Great Depression. The liberal
stance of the civil rights movement had given way to the more radical position of the Black Power movement. Opposition to US involvement in the
Vietnam War had intensified. Social cohesion seemed to vanish. Martin
Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X were assassinated.
Police attacked demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic Convention
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
in Chicago, and President Nixon widened the Vietnam
War. Campuses exploded; 400 closed or held strikes
during 1970.
The withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam in
1973 left deep divisions in American society. The New
Left collapsed, partly because of internal disputes. The
shooting of students at Kent State University in 1970
also seemed to prove the futility of organized action.
Nixon’s successful bid for the presidency resulted from
middle-­class voters’ resentment of Eastern liberals, the
left, and the counterculture.
The era’s upheavals led to an international critical
political cinema (Chapter 23). In the United States, Emile
De Antonio, the Newsreel group, and others practiced
an “engaged” filmmaking of social protest. At the same
time, with diminishing profits from blockbusters, the
Hollywood industry tried to woo the younger generation
with countercultural films. The effort led to some experiments in creating an American art cinema.
Responding to the US government’s turn to the right
in the early 1970s, left and liberal activists embraced a
micropolitics. They sought grassroots social change by
organizing around concrete issues: abortion, race- and
gender-­based discrimination, welfare, and environmental
policy. Many American documentary filmmakers participated in these movements (p. 435). At the same time,
however, this activism was fiercely opposed by the rise of
the New Right, conservative organizations that aroused
local support for school prayer, the abolition of newly
won abortion rights, and other issues. The struggle
between liberal movements and New Right forces was to
become the central political drama of the 1970s, and
many films (Jaws, The Parallax View, Nashville) bear
traces of it.
The drama was played against the backdrop of a waning US economy, fallen prey to oil embargoes and brisk
competition from Japan and Germany. The 1970s ended
America’s era of postwar prosperity. This period coincided with Hollywood’s reinvention of the blockbuster and
the rise to power of the movie brats, the pragmatic and
influential young filmmakers who became the new creative leaders of the industry.
Superficially, Hollywood seemed healthy in the early
1960s. The Majors—­MGM, Warner Bros., United Artists,
Paramount, 20th Century-­Fox, Columbia, Disney, and
Universal—­still controlled distribution, and nearly all
money-­making films they released. Lawrence of Arabia
(1962), Cleopatra (1963), Dr. Zhivago (1965), and other
historical epics played for months. Broadway musicals
continued to yield such hits as West Side Story (1961), The
Music Man (1962), and The Sound of Music (1965), the
decade’s top-­grossing film. Independent “teenpics” such
as Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) catered to the drive-­in audience with the lure of clean fun in the sun. The Disney
studios dominated the family market with hugely successful films like 101 Dalmatians (1961), Mary Poppins (1965),
and The Jungle Book (1967).
Although stars were free agents, many signed long-­
term production deals with studios. Paramount had Jerry
Lewis, Universal had Rock Hudson and Doris Day, MGM
had Elvis Presley. Each studio released between twelve
and twenty features per year—­a pattern that would hold
for decades. The Majors had made peace with television.
Networks were paying high prices for the rights to broadcast films, and the studios began making “telefeatures”
and series programs.
The Studios in Crisis
Despite all the evidence of prosperity, the 1960s proved to
be a hazardous decade for the studios. Movie attendance
continued to drop, leveling out at about 1 billion per year.
Studios were releasing fewer films, and many of those
were low-­budget pickups or foreign productions that would
have been passed over in earlier years. Most of the Majors
were stuck with large facilities, forcing them to lease sound
stages to television. Big stars proved a mixed blessing.
Once they joined a package, they usually insisted on control of the script and direction, along with a percentage of
a film’s grosses. Yet most star vehicles did not yield profit
to the studios.
The bulk of the films released by the Majors were independent productions, often cofinanced by the studio. More
and more the films that the Majors financed, planned, and
produced on their own tended to be the sort of roadshow
movies that had succeeded during the 1950s. During the
1960s, about six films were roadshowed per year, and most
proved lucrative. The Sound of Music roadshowed at 266
theaters, running for up to twenty months on some screens.
Only 1 percent of films released between 1960 and 1968
grossed over $1 million, but a third of the roadshow pictures surpassed that figure. The success of roadshow films
such as West Side Story, El Cid (1961), How the West Was
Won (1962), and Lawrence of Arabia drove the studios to
overspend on epic movies. In 1962, MGM lost nearly $20
The 1960s: The Film Industry in Recession
million, thanks largely to cost overruns on Mutiny on the
Bounty (1962). Cleopatra’s protracted production pushed
Fox to a loss of over $40 million.
By the late 1960s, every studio faced a financial crisis.
Most releases lost money, and executives proved slow to
understand that the big picture was no longer a sure thing.
Despite Cleopatra’s high box-­office take, its production costs
guaranteed that it would lose money upon theatrical
release—­as did many other expensive historical epics, such as
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and The Battle of Britain
(1969). Nor was the musical film a guaranteed winner.
Although The Sound of Music was a hit, Doctor Dolittle
(1967), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Star! (1968), and
Paint Your Wagon (1969) were expensive fiascos.
Even the Walt Disney studio suffered a slump during
this period. During the 1950s and 1960s, Disney had
increasingly focused on its television productions, live-­
action films, and Disneyland (opened in 1955). Its animated features of the 1960s routinely appeared on the lists
of annual top-­grossing films: 101 Dalmatians, The Sword
in the Stone (1963), The Jungle Book, and The Rescuers
(1977). Disney’s death in 1966, however, led to a period
of mostly less prestigious and profitable films, starting
with the minor successes of The Aristocats (1971) and
Robin Hood (1973). The studio’s low point in animation
was the expensive failure, The Black Cauldron (1985). Not
until 1989, with The Little Mermaid, would Disney once
again produce a stream of popular cartoon features.
The only bright spots were a few low-­budget films,
usually aimed at the college audience, that yielded remarkable returns. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) cost $3 million and
returned $24 million domestic rental income to Warner
Bros., while Midnight Cowboy (1969) cost $3 million and
yielded $20 million to United Artists. The winner in the
low-­budget sweepstakes was the independent release The
Graduate (1967). It cost $3 million and returned $49 million to its small distributor, Embassy Pictures. This scale
of profits made the sophisticated young-­adult film very
attractive to studio decision makers.
The Majors, at their weakest point since World War II,
were ripe for absorption into healthier companies. In 1962,
Universal was acquired by the Music Corporation of
America, but at least the deal remained in the Hollywood
family, since MCA was a former talent agency
(pp. 301–302). But now conglomerates circled the studios.
In 1966, Gulf + Western industries (a firm with holdings in
auto parts, metals, and financial services) acquired the ailing Paramount Pictures. In 1967, Warner Bros. was bought
by Seven Arts, which two years later was absorbed into
Kinney National Services (parking lots and funeral
parlors). In 1967, Transamerica Corporation (car rentals,
life insurance) bought United Artists. In 1968, financier
Kirk Kerkorian gained control of MGM, downsized it, and
used its assets to build the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Studios used to operating as freestanding companies
now found themselves small slices of big corporate pies.
Fox escaped for the moment because Star Wars (1977)
made it self-­sustaining, but in the 1980s it too would join a
conglomerate, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. As for
Disney, despite its weakened animation wing, it released
very profitable, modestly budgeted live-­action features,
such as Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966), The Love Bug
(1968), and The Shaggy D.A. (1976). Eventually, as we
will see in Chapter 28, Disney itself became a thriving
entertainment conglomerate.
The conglomerates could help the ailing studios by
injecting money from other businesses and guaranteeing
lines of bank credit. But nothing seemed to stem the flow
of red ink. Between 1969 and 1972, the Majors lost $500
million. The studios quickly brought in new executives,
often with little experience in film production. Banks
forced companies to trim the number of releases, avoid
big-­budget films, and partner with other studios in coproductions (as when Warners and Fox joined forces for
The Towering Inferno, 1974). In 1970, unemployment in
Hollywood rose to over 40 percent, an all-­time high. As
recession gripped the industry, the roadshow era ended.
Exhibitors began splitting their houses into two or three
screens and building multiplexes, usually cheaper
shopping-­mall theaters. The result was a generation of
narrow auditoriums with poor sightlines and garbled
Styles and Genres
With the decline of the studios and the continuing drop in
attendance, 1960s Hollywood was unsure about what the
public wanted. When a performer won a loyal audience,
he or she could count on studio support. Perhaps the most
obvious example is Jerry Lewis. After teaming with Dean
Martin on several hugely successful Paramount releases in
the 1950s, Lewis set out on a solo career—­writing, directing, and performing in his own comedies. In most of his
films, Lewis gave his idiot-­child character a spasmodic,
demonic frenzy. In The Nutty Professor (1963), he portrayed not only a geeky simpleton but also a suave lady­
killer modeled on Dean Martin. As a director, Lewis
displayed considerable visual flair: The Ladies’ Man (1961)
presents a women’s boarding house as a colossal dollhouse (Color Plate 22.1).
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
The 1960s continued the upscaling of B genres that
had begun in the 1950s (p. 303), especially in the big-­
budget espionage film. The catalyst was Ian Fleming’s
James Bond novels. Agent 007 proved his box-­office worth
with the phenomenally profitable Goldfinger (1964) and
its successors. The Bond films had erotically laced
intrigues, semicomic chases and fight scenes, outlandish
weaponry, wry humor, and dazzling production design
(Color Plate 22.2). The series spawned imitations and
­parodies around the world.
The sexiness of the Bond films was typical of the
period. The roadshow pictures and the Disney product
provided wholesome family fare, but theaters welcomed
more risqué films that could lure viewers away from bland
TV programming. Universal’s Doris Day comedies
(including Pillow Talk, 1958 and Lover Come Back, 1962)
celebrated women’s sexual stratagems, often at the
expense of the male ego. Other films snickered at promiscuity (A Guide for the Married Man, 1967), suburban flirtations (Boys’ Night Out, 1962), and aggressive women (Sex
and the Single Girl, 1964).
Some audiences enjoyed films from outside the
Hollywood mainstream. Studios distributed films from
Europe, not just quickly made costume pictures such as
Hercules (1957), but also ambitious, polished efforts
such as Zorba the Greek (1965). British imports were
22.1 Easy Rider: the long lens minimizes
the space between distant and closer
particularly successful. The erotic period comedy Tom
Jones (1963) and the edgy drama Alfie (1966), which
traded on the fashionable “swinging London” image,
proved popular (p. 408), as did the Beatles films.
Modifying the Classical Studio Style
Most Hollywood products of the early 1960s had a glossy
studio look, but some filmmakers broke with this style. The
Pawnbroker (1965) and other New York–­based films offered
a harsh, ethnically inflected realism. Location filming
became more frequent, even within cramped bars and apartments. Long-­focal-length lenses, which acted as a telescope
in enlarging a small area, allowed the cameraman to film
from a safe distance on an urban location. The long lens
became fashionable; it tended to flatten the shot’s space and
produce soft, blurry contours (22.1). In 1962, Arthur Penn’s
black-­and-white The Miracle Worker employed sharp deep
focus and crisp lighting (22.2), but five years later the much
flatter imagery in his color Bonnie and Clyde (22.3) resulted
from extremely long lenses. By the late 1960s, long lenses
were used for most medium shots and close views, whether
filmed on location or in studio sets.
During this period, directors abandoned the long-­take
aesthetic of the postwar years and experimented with
faster, flashier editing. Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night
22.2 The Miracle Worker: deep focus
and the wide-­angle lens.
22.3 Bonnie and Clyde: during the final
shoot-­out, Clyde Barrow’s dying descent
is filmed with a long lens, which softens
focus and flattens space.
22.4, left Discontinuity in A Hard
Day’s Night: as “Can’t Buy Me Love”
plays on the sound track, Lester shows
the Beatles romping in a soccer field . . .
22.5, right . . . and immediately cuts to
them relaxing (A Hard Day’s Night).
The 1960s: The Film Industry in Recession
(1964) and Help! (1965) fractured the Beatles’ musical
numbers into discontinuous shots (22.4, 22.5). Lester’s
zany technique derived from the French New Wave, TV
commercials, and British eccentric comedy. He pushed
fast cutting further in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way
to the Forum (1966). Other directors accelerated the pace:
Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen (1967) averaged
3.5 ­seconds per shot.
Lester created a vogue for wordless scenes, often montage sequences, backed by pop songs. The most famous
example is probably Simon and Garfunkel’s vocals in The
Graduate (1967), which comment on the hero’s indifference. With the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”
scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), the
integration of full-­length songs into scenes became a staple
of American cinema. Film studios affiliated with music
companies could cross-­plug movies and recordings, making
the sound-­track album a source of profit.
Lester’s eye-­catching techniques were applied to volatile content by Arthur Penn in Bonnie and Clyde. With
an average shot length of less than four seconds, the film
also popularized the use of slow motion to render
extreme violence. The climax, showing the title couple
cut down by a hail of bullets, turns into a spasmodic
dance through rhythmic slow motion (see 22.3). Sam
Peckinpah pushed Penn’s approach further by rendering
blood bursts and falling bodies in slow motion and a hail
of shots. The Wild Bunch (1969) celebrates an anarchic
band of robbers who are tracked by an obsessive lawman.
The film begins and ends with harrowing firefights in
which innocents are gunned down mercilessly. Straw
Dogs (1971), with its portrayal of an ineffectual professor taking bloody revenge for the rape of his wife, outraged critics even more. Peckinpah’s critics still debate
whether his lyrical treatment of carnage distances us,
arouses us, or invites us to reflect on our own appetites.
After Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch, fast cutting
and slow motion became common ways of presenting
violent action.
Innovations like these arrived as most old-­guard
filmmakers were in their final creative years. John Ford,
Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Raoul
Walsh, and many others who had started in silent cinema
or the early days of sound were no longer at the forefront.
Ford and Walsh retired after careers lasting nearly fifty
years. Their solid technique looked staid, their attitudes
old-­fashioned. Hawks remarked of Peckinpah’s slow-­
motion filming, “Oh hell, I can kill and bury ten guys in
the time it takes him to kill one.”1 “Hollywood now is run
by Wall St. and Madison Ave., who demand ‘Sex and Violence,’” wrote John Ford after completing his last feature,
Seven Women (1965). “This is against my conscience and
Identifying the Audience
Ford was right: many boundaries of taste had been crossed.
Throughout the 1950s, the power of the Hays Office to dictate film content had been eroding (p. 300). In the 1960s,
major films such as The Pawnbroker and Alfie were distributed without the Production Code seal, while others carried
a seal despite nudity and profanity. It became apparent that
the Code not only was ineffectual but was creating lucrative
publicity for the films it rejected. Theaters screening Who’s
Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) required that under-­eighteen
patrons be accompanied by an adult, and the film earned
huge profits. The Code was dead.
In 1966, the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPPA) stopped issuing certificates. Instead, films that
failed to conform to its guidelines were labeled “Suggested
for Mature Audiences.” Backing down from this toothless
policy, the MPAA companies created a rating system
coded by letter: G (general: recommended for all ages),
M (mature: recommended for viewers over sixteen),
R (restricted: viewers under sixteen to be accompanied
by parent or guardian), and X (no one under sixteen
The rating system allowed the industry to present
itself as being sensitive to public concern while giving
filmmakers license to treat violence, sexuality, or unorthodox ideas. The new latitude helped make hits out of Bob &
Carol & Ted & Alice, The Wild Bunch, and Midnight Cowboy
(all 1969). Subsequent films succeeded by pushing the
standards of acceptability further. Eventually the rating
system was revised, raising the age for R and X films and
replacing the M category with PG (parental guidance
Producers noted that The Graduate and Bonnie and
Clyde had appealed to young audiences, and they learned
that half of all moviegoers were aged 16 to 24. Studios
launched a cycle of youthpics, which offered young audiences entertainment unavailable on television. The prototype was Easy Rider (1969), a chronicle of two drug
dealers’ motorcycle trip across America. Made for less
than $500,000, it became one of the most successful
films of its year. The youthpics cycle included films of
campus rebellion (The Strawberry Statement, 1970),
countercultural dramas (Alice’s Restaurant, 1969; Joe,
1970), nostalgia pieces (The Last Picture Show, 1971),
and anarchic comedies (M*A*S*H, 1970; Harold and
Maude, 1971). When Yellow Submarine (Great Britain,
1968) became a phenomenal hit by offering a string of
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
The return of Hollywood cinema owed something to new
ways of making images and sounds. By 1967, the studios
depended on selling TV rights to features. As color television became common, the networks demanded color films
for broadcast, and Hollywood committed itself to color
production. Eastman Color became the stock of choice for
shooting and release prints, although some prints were
made from Eastman using Technicolor’s dye-­imbibition
The industry had explored various versions of wide­
screen cinema in the 1950s, and by the mid-1960s a few
had become dominant. Most films were shot in 35mm and
masked during shooting or projection to a 1:85 aspect
ratio. To obtain a wider image with 35mm, the image would
usually be anamorphically compressed, as in Cinema­
Scope (p. 296). But there were optical problems with the
original CinemaScope design, particularly its tendency to
make faces fatter in close-­up (“’Scope mumps”). The
Panavision company designed a better anamorphic system, first used on some late 1950s films. By the end of the
1960s, CinemaScope was defunct and Panavision became
the anamorphic standard. For still more grandeur, big
musicals or historical epics would be shot on 65mm stock
and printed to 70mm to allow for multitrack sound. Exodus
(1960), Lawrence of Arabia, and other films were both
70mm and anamorphic.
Influenced by European films and Direct Cinema,
Hollywood cinematographers adapted zoom lenses
(p. 394). A fashion for self-­conscious zooming arose, as in
The Train (1964). By the 1970s, filmmakers felt that such sudden enlargements or reductions of images called too much
attention to the mechanics of shooting, so zooming was
mostly confined to low-­budget films. Still, many cinematographers kept the zoom lens on the camera to allow them to
frame a shot precisely without changing camera positions.
Hollywood filmmakers also borrowed the handheld
shot from Direct Cinema. The shakiness of the handheld
camera could suggest a documentary immediacy (such as
the opening of Seven Days in May, 1964) or a nervous
energy (the roadhouse dance and fight in Virginia Woolf ).
Cinematographers liked the new maneuverability but also
wanted to make the handheld imagery steadier. Lighter-­
weight cameras, such as the 15-pound Arriflex 35 BL,
became available at the beginning of the 1970s. Though
somewhat heavier, Panavision’s Panaflex could still be
braced on the operator’s shoulder, and this allowed shooting in cramped circumstances. John A. Alonzo used the
Panaflex for meticulous wide-­angle long takes in Roman
Polanski’s Chinatown (1974; Color Plate 22.4). For Steven
Spielberg’s Sugarland Express (1974), cinematographer
Vilmos Zsigmond obtained tight and steady shots inside a
moving car by sliding a Panaflex along a plank.
The Steadicam, first publicized on Bound for Glory
(1976), was a camera support that used a system of counterweights to suspend the camera on a brace attached to
the operator’s body. It created smooth, floating tracking
shots. Now the operator could stride through crowds and
narrow doorways as well as up and down stairways—
maneuvers not possible with a studio dolly. Adding to the
flexibility of moving shots was the Louma crane, a remote-­
controlled aluminum arm that could lift a Panaflex high
above a set. Both the Steadicam and the Louma crane
used video monitors for viewfinding.
The 1970s also saw a revolution in sound recording
and reproduction. Robert Altman’s California Split (1974)
pioneered multitrack recording during shooting, planting
radio microphones on the actors to create up to fourteen
distinct channels. During this period, the “time code”
designed to identify frames on videotape was modified to
synchronize the film strip with one or more audio recorders. Time-­codes made sound mixing and rerecording
much easier.
In sound reproduction, the principal innovations came
from the laboratories of Ray Dolby. Dolby introduced noise
reduction techniques to the music industry in the mid1960s. A Clockwork Orange (1971) was among the first
films to employ them. Several movies used Dolby magnetic and optical processes for multitrack theater reproduction, but Dolby’s stereo system did not become
popular until Star Wars (1977). More and more theaters
converted to stereo and surround-­sound speaker layouts
to take advantage of the more powerful sound tracks.
“psychedelic” vignettes illustrating Beatles songs, producers realized that animation could also win college audiences. Ralph Bakshi aimed Fritz the Cat (1972), the first
cartoon to receive an X rating, at viewers comfortable
with the drugs-­and-free-­love ethos of underground comics
(Color Plate 22.3).
In the same years, the industry also benefited from a
few old-­fashioned hits targeting the general audience: the
war film Patton (1970), the musical Fiddler on the Roof
(1971), a cycle of “disaster” pictures starting with The
Poseidon Adventure (1972), two films pairing Paul Newman
and Robert Redford (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid;
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
The Sting, 1973), and the adaptation of a best-­selling
novel, Love Story (1970). But the tide would really turn in
the mid-1970s, when a string of modestly budgeted films
by young, largely unknown directors would become stupendously profitable.
LATE 1960s TO LATE 1970s
The directors identified with the “New Hollywood” were a
diverse lot. Many—­the “movie brats”—were in their late
twenties and early thirties. Others, such as Robert Altman
and Woody Allen, were significantly older. Some directors, for
example, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola,
went to film school, but critic-­turned-filmmaker Peter
Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show; What’s Up, Doc?,
1972) and former television director Bob Rafelson (Five
Easy Pieces, 1970; The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972) did
not. Some were fastidious intellectuals, like Terrence
Malick (Badlands, 1973; Days of Heaven, 1978), while others were countercultural movie mavens, such as Brian De
Palma (Greetings, 1968; Sisters, 1973), John Carpenter
(Dark Star, 1974; Assault on Precinct 13, 1977), and John
Milius (Dillinger, 1973; The Wind and the Lion, 1975).
While these directors established themselves in the early
1970s, others about the same age came to prominence a
little later: screenwriter/director Paul Schrader (Blue
­Collar, 1978), Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter, 1978),
David Lynch (Eraserhead, 1978), and Jonathan Demme
(Melvin and Howard, 1980).
Many of the New Hollywood directors self-­consciously
returned to the traditions of the classical studio genres,
paying respects to venerated filmmakers (p. 476). But studios also granted filmmakers the opportunity to create
something like European art films. Sometimes a single
filmmaker like Coppola might participate in both trends.
Both tendencies were characterized by “movie consciousness,” an intense awareness of film history and its continuing influence on contemporary culture.
Toward an American Art Cinema
When Paramount Pictures asked Francis Ford Coppola to
make a film based on the novel The Godfather, he was in
despair. “They want me to direct this hunk of trash,” he
told his father. “I don’t want to do it. I want to do art
films.”3 That Coppola could harbor such hopes reflects a
brief but important moment in American filmmaking.
With the late 1960s recession and the search for college
audiences, Hollywood became more hospitable to the
story­telling techniques pioneered in the European art cinema. One cure for Hollywood’s slump seemed to be the
art film dwelling on mood, characterization, and psychological ambiguity.
A case in point is Richard Lester’s much-­praised
Petulia (1968). In one scene, the eccentric and abused
Petulia confronts her lover Archie at his apartment. Lester
interrupts their conversation with brief shots: a flashback
of Archie trying to return the tuba Petulia had brought
him and a “false” flashback of Petulia stealing the tuba
(22.6–22.9). The film’s play with chronology and
22.6, left Petulia: Archie explains that
he tried to return the tuba Petulia had
left with him . . .
22.7, right . . . and Lester intercuts a
flashback of Archie doing so (Petulia).
22.8, left Soon Archie learns that
Petulia paid for renting the tuba . . .
22.9, right . . . and Lester inserts a
shot of her breaking a pawnshop window
to steal the tuba. This visualizes a lie that
she told Archie earlier (Petulia).
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
22.10, 22.11 Dennis Hopper’s Easy
Rider assimilated the jump cuts
that Jean-­Luc Godard had pioneered
in Breathless (p. 395).
character subjectivity is reminiscent of Alain Resnais’
Hiroshima mon amour (p. 402).
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),
while it revived a revival of the science-­f iction genre, on
another level it exploits the enigmatic symbolism of European art cinema. Long scenes of antiseptic life on the
spacecraft (many stretches devoid of drama), an ironic use
of music, and a teasing, allegorical ending invite thematic
interpretation of a sort usually reserved for films by Federico Fellini or Michelangelo Antonioni.
Some youthpics also experimented with art-­f ilm traditions. Easy Rider’s rock sound track and drug-­laced tour
of America may have attracted young audiences, but its
style is quite jolting (22.10, 22.11). Transitions are
choppy: a few frames from the last shot of one scene
alternate with a few frames of the first shot of the next.
(Dennis Hopper, a fan of underground films, may have
borrowed the device from Gregory Markopoulos
[p. 450].) A puzzling flashforward shot of a burning bike
punctuates the narrative, foreshadowing the end of the
drug dealers’ odyssey.
Other road movies took a loose, open approach to
narrative, as in Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces and
Monte Hellman’s Two Lane Blacktop (1971), the latter
remarkable for its sparse dialogue and minimal characterizations. Brian De Palma’s Greetings and Hi, Mom!
(1970) were episodic counterculture films that merged
rock music, raunchy humor, and reflexive stylistic
devices borrowed from François Truffaut and Jean-­Luc
Godard. Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool (1969; 22.12),
Paul Williams’s The Revolutionary (1970), and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970) drew upon the
critical political cinema emerging in Europe
(Chapter 23); they often relied on ambiguous narratives
and open endings. Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s
Baadasssss Song (1971), a frenetic call to black revolution, exploited a variety of New Wave techniques.
­Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971), about a Kansas cowboy
eking out a living in Peru, employed cryptic symbolic
22.12 The handheld camera captures demonstrators building
barricades against the police in sequences shot at the 1968
Democratic Convention (Medium Cool).
scenes and a pervasive reflexivity (including titles reading “SCENE MISSING”).
Older directors also ventured into the American art
cinema. Paul Mazursky’s Alex in Wonderland (1970) paid
homage to Fellini’s 8½, while Sydney Pollack’s They
Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) flaunted stylized flashforwards. Mike Nichols’s Catch-22 (1970) and George
Roy Hill’s Slaughterhouse Five (1972) juggled time in
adapting well-­k nown novels. In Images (1972) and Three
Women (1977), Altman emphasized ambiguous shifts
between objective reality and character subjectivity, decorated with abstract, enigmatic compositions. Woody
Allen’s Interiors (1978) was a somber chamber drama
modeled on Bergman’s work, while Alan J. Pakula’s The
Parallax View (1972) adorned an assassination thriller
with alienating widescreen compositions that recall
Antonioni (Color Plate 22.5).
The auteur approach to film criticism had become
widely known in the United States (see “Notes and Queries” online). Many movie brats who began their careers
in the 1960s had learned of it in film school and harbored
dreams of becoming artists like the venerated European
and Asian auteurs and Young Cinema directors.
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
22.13 The Conversation: as Harry
watches the mysterious younger people
leave the corporation under press
scrutiny . . .
22.14 . . . Coppola interrupts the scene
with glimpses of the murder . . . (The
The most celebrated movie brat was Francis Ford
Coppola. With The Rain People (1969), shot on the road
with a Dodge bus, a crew of friends, and minuscule financing, Coppola sought to make a film that had the stylistic
richness and the dedramatization of prestigious European
cinema. Natalie leaves her husband because her marriage
is beginning to stifle her. On her aimless drive she picks
up Killer, a brain-­damaged football player. Abrupt, jagged
flashbacks interrupt scenes, and Coppola’s sound
designer, Walter Murch, provides a montage of environmental textures—­the crackle of phone lines, the muffled
rumble of high-­speed trucks shaking roadside motel
rooms. The glistening sidewalks of the opening credits
take on significance when Killer tells Natalie of the “rain
people” who d
­ isappear because “they cry themselves
Coppola’s most ambitious art film was The
­Conversation (1974), financed on the success of The Godfather. Like many of Altman’s works (see box), the film
blends conventions of the art cinema with those of a Hollywood genre—­in this case, the detective film. Although
The ­Conversation is frequently compared to Antonioni’s
Blow-­Up (1966), Coppola probes his protagonist’s mind
far more deeply than Antonioni does. Harry Caul, an
expert in audio surveillance, records fragments of a conversation that lead him to suspect a murder plot. As he
replays and remixes the telltale dialogue (rendered in Walter Murch’s intricate sound design), Harry’s growing anxiety is charted through dreams and fragmentary flashbacks.
The murder is presented in disorienting shards, as Harry
glimpses and overhears it. Eventually, the audience discovers that parts of the original conversation have been filtered through Harry’s mind. As Harry realizes the true
situation, ­Coppola intercuts shots of him with shots of the
murder, perhaps as he now imagines it to have taken place
22.15 . . . and suggests that these
images could be either Harry’s
imaginings or fragments of the real
action (The Conversation).
Hollywood Strikes Gold
During the 1970s, forces were at work to salvage the US
film industry. In 1971, a new law allowed film companies to claim tax credits on investments in US-­made
films and to recover tax credits from the 1960s. This
legislation not only returned hundreds of millions of
dollars to the Majors, it also allowed them to defer tax
on subsidiaries’ activities. In addition, a tax-­shelter plan
allowed investors in films to declare up to 100 percent
of their investment as exempt from taxes. The latter provision helped successful, offbeat films like One Flew
Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Taxi Driver (1976) to
be made. The tax-­shelter provision was rescinded in
1976, and the studios’ tax-­credit benefits were abolished
in the mid-1980s, but they had been crucial to the
­industry’s recovery.
Although many of the new generation of Hollywood
directors—­especially the movie brats—­considered themselves artists, few wanted to be esoteric. Some made not
just ordinary hits but films that broke records year after
year. The top-­g rossing films of 1970 and 1971 (Love
Story, Airport, M*A*S*H, Patton, The French Connection,
Fiddler on the Roof ) had yielded between $25 million
and $50 million to the studios from US box-­o ffice
returns—­strong profits, but lackluster in comparison
with what was to come. The Godfather ushered in an era
of box-­office income on a scale no one had imagined.
The following figures are rentals, not box-­office grosses;
the rentals are the revenues returned to the studio after
the theaters have taken their percentages of gross ticket
1972: The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola,
returned over $81 million to Paramount in the US
market. Two years later, its global rentals and TV sales
amounted to $285 million.
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
After the mid-1970s, efforts to maintain a Hollywood art
cinema were much less common. One director who persisted was Robert Altman. Altman directed some fairly
orthodox features before his career was energized by the
late 1960s recession, the youthpics cycle, and the vogue
for Hollywood art cinema. His films travesty their genres,
from the war film M*A*S*H to the antimusical Popeye
(1980). They radiate a distrust of authority, a criticism of
American pieties, and a celebration of energetic, if confused, idealism.
Altman also developed an idiosyncratic style. He
relied on shambling, semi-­improvised performances, a
restless pan-­
and-zoom camera style, abrupt cutting,
multiple-­camera shooting that kept the viewpoint resolutely outside the character action, and a sound track of
unprecedented density. His long lenses crowd characters
in on one another and lock them behind reflecting glass
(22.16). Nashville (1975), for many critics Altman’s major
achievement, follows twenty-­four characters over a weekend, often scattering them across the widescreen frame
(22.17). In Altman’s films, characters mumble, talk simultaneously, or find themselves drowned out by the droning
loudspeakers of official wisdom.
Without a major hit after M*A*S*H, Altman found himself
adrift in the 1980s, but he still managed to be quite prolific,
skewering American values in bare-­bones play adaptations
(Secret Honor, 1984; Fool for Love, 1985). His career was
revived by the dark Hollywood comedy The Player (1992),
which returned him to more mainstream production. Venerated by a new generation of US independent filmmakers,
Altman continued his experiments in decentered narrative
and sardonic social commentary in Short Cuts (1993),
Gosford Park (2001), and many other works. His last film
before his death, A Prairie Home Companion (2006),
returned to the musical world of in Nashville, but with a
good-­humored affection for the performers.
Altman’s contemporary Woody Allen created a personal cinema from a production base in New York. A television gag writer and stand-­up comedian, Allen wrote
plays and starred in films during the 1960s. His first directorial effort, Take the Money and Run (1969), became an
immediate success, carrying on the wisecracking absurdist tradition of the Marx Brothers and Bob Hope. Allen’s
early films also appealed to intellectuals through cinematic
in-­jokes, such as the homage to Potemkin’s Odessa Steps
in Bananas (1971).
22.16 In The Long Goodbye, a
dense window reflection shows the
detective Philip Marlowe on the
beach while inside the house novelist
Roger Wade quarrels with his wife.
22.17 Several major characters pass
one another unawares in the bustling
airport scene at the beginning of
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
With Annie Hall (1977), Allen launched a series of films
that blended his interest in the psychological problems of
the urban professional with his love for American film traditions and for such European filmmakers as Fellini and
Bergman. “When I started making pictures, I was interested
in the kind of pictures I enjoyed when I was younger. Comedies, real funny comedies, and romantic comedies, sophisticated comedies. As I got a little more savvy, that part of me
which responded to foreign film started to take over.”4
Allen’s most influential films have thrown his comic
persona—­the hypersensitive, insecure Jewish intellectual—­
into a tangle of psychological conflicts. Sometimes the plot
centers on the Allen figure’s confused love life (Annie Hall;
Manhattan, 1979). In Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1990), the plot consists of
intertwined romantic relationships among several characters, played for contrasts between verbal comedy and
sober drama (22.18). Allen built many of his films around
the questions that preoccupied him, and he unabashedly
recorded his loves ( jazz, Manhattan), dislikes (rock music,
drugs, California), and values (love, friendship, trust).
A unique production arrangement allowed Allen to
retain control over the script, casting, and editing. He
explored a range of styles, from the pseudo-­documentary
realism of Zelig (1983) to the mock German Expressionism
1973: William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (Warners; 22.19)
surpassed The Godfather’s US rentals by $3 million.
In the same year, Universal reluctantly released a
small-­budget film called American Graffiti, directed
by George Lucas; it reaped over $55 million.
22.18 Middle-­class couples debate artificial insemination:
romantic satire in Hannah and Her Sisters.
of Shadows and Fog (1992). Allen also paid homage to a
number of his favorite films and auteurs. Stardust Memo­
ries (1980) is an overt reworking of Fellini’s 8½; Radio Days
(1987), in its glowing evocation of period detail, recalls
Amarcord. Interiors (1978) and September (1987) are Bergmanesque chamber dramas, while the holiday family gatherings of Hannah and Her Sisters evoke Fanny and
Alexander. Few of his films made a profit, but into the
2010s Allen attracted major stars willing to take roles in his
personal universe.
No cluster of films had ever made so much money on
initial release.5 Studios on the brink of bankruptcy found
their profits hitting unprecedented levels. Richard
F. Zanuck, the son of long-­time 20th Century-Fox boss
1975: Jaws (Universal), directed by Steven Spielberg,
earned $130 million in domestic rentals.
1976: Rocky, made without major stars and by
little-­known director John G. Avildsen, earned United
Artists $56 million at the US box office.
1977: Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(Columbia; $82 million) and John Badham’s Saturday
Night Fever (Paramount; $74 million) generated very
healthy profits, but records were broken again by George
Lucas’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Fox). Costing
$11 million, it began as a summer movie, ran continuously
into 1978, and was rereleased in 1979. Star Wars earned
over $190 million in US rentals and about $250 million
worldwide, on a total ticket sales of over $500 million.

22.19 The Exorcist, an adaptation of a best-­selling horror
novel, aroused controversy with its blasphemous language and
its shocking special effects. Here, thanks to a life-­sized puppet,
the possessed Regan mockingly rotates her head.
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
Darryl F. Zanuck, produced The Sting and Jaws. He realized that “I had amassed more money with one or two
pictures than my father had in a lifetime of work.”6 During
the boom of the early and mid-1970s, most Majors had at
least one top hit, so the industry maintained its stability.
Overall rentals from domestic and foreign release
increased about $200 million per year, reaching $2 billion
in 1979. Television networks and cable companies began
paying large sums for rights to broadcast the new blockbusters. The 1970s resurgence catapulted several filmmakers to fame, with three becoming major producer-­directors
(see box).
The Return of the Blockbuster
The 1970s blockbusters made producers far less willing to
let filmmakers experiment with plot, tone, and style.
During the recession of the early 1970s, studios welcomed
even a small hit; directors were not expected to create big
pictures. By the late 1970s, however, companies did not
want to risk money on untried subjects or approaches.
Clearly the industry’s success was based on very few
films. In any year, ten or so “must-­see” pictures attracted
the bulk of admissions, while most of the Majors’
releases lost money. The industry therefore sought to
minimize the risks. Companies released their big-­budget
films in the peak leisure periods, summer and ­Christmas.
Copying exploitation companies like AIP, Universal
aired many television ads for Jaws and released the film
to hundreds of theaters simultaneously. Since then, most
major releases have received saturation advertising and
booking, pinning their fates primarily on one opening
Hollywood discovered other ways to wring profits
from blockbusters. One strategy would be central to future
studio filmmaking: the sequel. The Godfather, The Exorcist,
Jaws, and Rocky were given additional installments; one
Rocky sequel appeared in 2015, forty years after the original. George Lucas built the idea of a continuing story into
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and his empire
depended on sequels, prequels, and offshoot films. This
practice would lead producers to set up franchises, ongoing stories spread across many films over many years.
Another strategy pioneered by Lucas involved ancillary
rights. Jaws had been made with little concern for merchandising, but in negotiating his stake in Star Wars, Lucas
shrewdly obtained a large percentage of the rights to toys,
T-­shirts, and other fan paraphernalia. After studios saw
the Star Wars ancillary income exceed its box-­office take,
they created their own merchandising divisions.
Despite some inroads made by independent distributors, the market was ruled by familiar players. The major
distribution companies garnered 90 percent of all theater
revenues. A film financed outside the studios could not
get widely screened unless it was distributed by a top company. The standard distribution fee, 35 percent, came
directly from gross rentals, so Jaws and Star Wars earned
distribution income for Universal and 20th Century-­Fox
over and above any investments the studios made in the
productions. The major distributors also controlled international circulation of US films.
Still, the Majors needed filmmakers. While some studios, notably Disney, prided themselves on generating
their own projects, most came to rely on directors and producers with strong track records. Spielberg and Lucas
became powerful producers who could find financing easily and even demand reductions in distribution fees. Studios cultivated long-­term relationships with producers
who could bring together a script, a director, and stars.
Increasingly, agents functioned as quasi-­producers by gathering their clients into packages, a tactic pioneered by Lew
Wasserman (p. 301) and developed by Sue Mengers in
assembling Ryan O’Neal, Barbra Streisand, and director
Peter Bogdanovich for What’s Up, Doc? (1973). In 1975,
two powerful talent agencies formed, International Creative Management and Creative Artists Agency, both of
which would become prime packagers in the 1980s.
Many of the most adept moguls were TV-­trained, like
Paramount’s Barry Diller and Michael Eisner, and knew
how to broker talent. Studios also hired agents as executives. Accordingly, the 1970s initiated the era of “the
deal.” Development deals generated income for the agents,
producers, scriptwriters, and stars, but few films resulted.
Overall deals paid stars and directors to develop “vanity
projects” for studios, and housekeeping deals gave their
production companies an office on the studio lot. Every
participant in a package held out for the maximum, so a
project might take years to reach the screen. Filmmakers
complained that shooting films had become secondary to
deal making.
As successful filmmakers gained more control over
their projects, budgets often inflated. Coppola’s Apocalypse Now took three years to shoot and cost over $30 million. Even top directors were not immune to cost overruns,
as Spielberg’s 1941 (1979) showed. The system’s most
notorious failure involved Michael Cimino’s ambitious
Western, Heaven’s Gate (1980). The budget rose to
$40 million, the highest production cost of the 1970s.
After the film had a disastrous premiere, United Artists
released a shortened version. It earned less than $2
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
Three directors who emerged at the beginning of the
1970s became powerful producers and redefined what
Hollywood cinema might be. Like other novices of the
time, they were less directors than “filmmakers” who had
tried their hand at every aspect of the craft, from writing to
postproduction. They understood movies as total creations and sought to put their personal stamp on everything they did. They were also well acquainted with each
other. Francis Ford Coppola acted as producer and mentor for George Lucas on American Graffiti. Lucas and
Steven Spielberg collaborated on several projects, notably
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1980). Still, their paths diverged.
With The Godfather, Coppola proved that he could turn
out a mainstream masterpiece, but he wanted to go further, to turn Hollywood into a center of artistic cinema.
Lucas and Spielberg wanted to modernize the system
without disturbing it.
Coppola broke through first. His youth comedy You’re
a Big Boy Now (1967) borrowed the flashy techniques of
Richard Lester’s Beatles films and the swinging-­London
pictures. Coppola came to know the collapsing studio system from the inside, moving from Corman’s American
International Pictures to screenwriting (the Oscar-­winning
script for Patton, 1970) and then to directing, with the
unsuccessful musical Finian’s Rainbow (1968). The God­
father yielded him great financial rewards, but instead of
parlaying his success into a commercial career, he plunged
into an intimate, ambivalent art movie, The Conversation.
He turned The Godfather, Part II (1974) into a complex,
time-­juggling piece. Then he embarked on the vast,
exhausting, budget-­shattering Apocalypse Now (1979).
Coppola’s was bravura filmmaking on a grand scale. In
college he wanted to direct theater, and in many respects
he remained an actor’s director. For The Godfather he
fought Paramount to hire Marlon Brando and Al Pacino and
gave prime roles to James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire,
and other little-­known actors. During rehearsals he had
actors improvise scenes that would not be in the film,
and he held dinners in which the actors ate and drank and
talked in character. For The Godfather, Part II he added
New York stage legends like playwright Michael Gazzo
and Lee Strasberg, the dean of the Actors Studio.
This interest in performance was balanced by a risk­
taking cinematic sensibility. The Godfather was remarkably poised, partly because it refused the fast cutting and
camera movements of the early 1970s. Coppola and his
cinematographer, Gordon Willis, settled upon a style that
emphasized a static camera and actors moving through
rich, often gloomy, interiors (Color Plate 22.6). In contrast,
the fragmentary montage of sound and image in The Con­
versation sets the audience adrift in alternative times and
mental spaces. In Apocalypse Now, Coppola would strive
to give the Vietnam War an overpowering visual presence,
with psychedelic color, surround sound, and slow, hallucinatory dissolves.
Coppola had founded his company, American
Zoetrope, in 1969 in order to nurture his personal projects.
After years of yearning for a facility, he bought the Hollywood General studio in 1979, renamed it Zoetrope Studios, and announced that it would be a center of new
technology for feature films, an “electronic cinema” based
on high-­definition video sent out by satellite. He rebuilt the
stages and directed performances from his trailer via
video feeds. The main result was One from the Heart
(1982), a flamboyantly artificial musical drama filled with
stunning pictorial effects (Color Plate 22.7). One from the
Heart would influence the French cinéma du look of the
1980s (pp. 572–573), but the cost overruns and public
indifference led to massive failure. Soon Coppola was
forced to sell his facility to satisfy his creditors.
What followed were decades of difficulty. Coppola
launched some intriguing projects such as the teenage
22.20 Tucker: an in-­camera optical
effect connects Tucker with his wife as
they talk on the phone.
(continued )
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
dramas The Outsiders (1983) and Rumble Fish (1983), as
well as the brash Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988,
produced by Lucas). He never ceased to experiment with
eye-­catching compositions (22.20) and offbeat storytelling
techniques, such as the use of a fake publicity film in
Tucker and the silent-­film-style special effects in Bram
Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Yet he failed to restart his career.
Even Godfather III (1990), a sequel to his biggest hit, did
not redeem him, and he became a director for hire. Coppola began to be known not for his movies but for the
wine cultivated at his Napa Valley vineyard.
By contrast, Lucas and Spielberg sought to recover
their boyhood pleasure in movies. They tried to recreate
the uncomplicated fun of space opera (Star Wars), action-­
packed serials (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and fantasy
(Close Encounters, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982). In
making Star Wars, Lucas pulled together the most exciting portions of several air battles from Hollywood combat
pictures, storyboarded the compiled sequence, and then
shot his space dogfights to match the older footage. As
producers, Lucas and Spielberg revived the family film of
adventure (Willow, 1988), fantasy (Gremlins, 1984), and
cartoon comedy (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, 1988; Color
Plate 22.8). While the Disney studio was floundering, two
baby boomers recaptured the old magic. Many critics
noted that Walt himself would have loved to make Star
Wars or E.T.
Spielberg divided his attention between what he
called “fast-­food movies” (Jaws, the Indiana Jones series)
and more upscale directorial efforts (The Color Purple,
1985; Empire of the Sun, 1987). These dignified adaptations of best-­selling novels had a nostalgic side, too, recalling the Hollywood prestige picture of the 1930s and 1940s.
Looking back to the great tradition, Spielberg filled his
films with reverent allusions to the studio program picture
(Always, 1989, is a remake of Victor Fleming’s A Guy
Named Joe, 1943) and to Disney (Close Encounters; Hook,
1991; and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, 2001).
In one respect, Spielberg proved himself heir to the
studio directors. With the right material, he could make a
story come grippingly alive for his audience. Jaws balanced thrills with a skeptical attitude toward political leadership. Against the money-­grubbing businesspeople of
Amity, the film offers three versions of male heroism: the
grizzled man of action Quint, the scientific rationalist
Hooper, and the reluctant pragmatist Sheriff Brody. Each
sequence hits a high pitch of emotional tension, and scene
by scene the audience’s anxiety is ratcheted up through
crisp editing, John Williams’s ominous score, and inventive
Panavision compositions (22.21). Likewise, in the Indiana
Jones and Jurassic Park series, Spielberg revamped the
traditions of Raoul Walsh and Ray Harryhausen for the
blockbuster age.
Spielberg’s New Age–­
t inted spirituality, often
expressed as mute wonder at glittering technological marvels, proved no less popular. Over and over the young
man from divorced suburban parents replayed the drama
of a family’s breakup and a child’s yearning for happiness.
He found emblematic images—­spindly aliens communicating through music, a boy bicycling silhouetted against the
moon—­that verged on kitsch but also struck a chord in millions. Spielberg became New Hollywood’s reliable showman, recalling Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, and the
director whom he claimed he most resembled, Victor
Fleming, the contract professional who had a hand in both
Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
Less of a movie fan than Coppola and Spielberg,
Lucas spent his youth watching television, reading comic
books, and tinkering with cars. He lovingly depicted the
world of cruising and rock’n’roll in American Graffiti,
whose meticulously designed music track and interwoven
coming-­of-age crises presented the teen picture that
22.21 Ingenious depth staging in
Spielberg’s Jaws.
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
studios had craved. Star Wars offered chivalric myth for
1970s teens, a quest romance in which young heroes could
find adventure, pure love, and a sacred cause (22.22). Not
surprisingly, Star Wars was published as a comic book
before the film was released. Coppola loved working with
actors, but Lucas avoided talking with them except for the
occasional “Faster!” He looked forward to creating his
scenes digitally, shooting isolated actors against blank
screens, or creating characters wholly on a computer. This
dream, the ultimate film extension of the comic-­book aesthetic, was realized in the computer-­generated Jar Jar
Binks of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).
Lucas often called himself an independent filmmaker,
and in some sense he was. The triumph of Star Wars
allowed him to dictate terms to any studio in town. After
frequent clashes with Fox on The Empire Strikes Back
(1980), which ran over schedule and budget, he vowed
that he would never compromise again. Retreating to his
own fiefdom, Skywalker Ranch, Lucas oversaw a high-­tech
wonderland based on a saga that gripped the imagination
of millions around the world and spawned Star Wars novels, toys, games, action figures, and video games. Skywalker staff maintained a volume, “The Bible,” that listed
all the events occurring in the Star Wars universe.
Yet Lucas continued to believe that he was spinning a
simple tale grounded in basic human values. Like
Spielberg, Lucas hit on a resonant New Age theme: the
Force, representing God, the cosmos, or whatever the
viewer was comfortable with. Beneath all the hardware, he
claimed, Star Wars was about “redemption.” Spielberg
remarked, hyperbolically, that Star Wars marked the
moment “when the world recognized the value of
All three directors had colossal hits in the 1970s, but
only Spielberg and Lucas continued to rule over the next
forty years. At one point in the early 1980s, the pair were
responsible for the six top-­grossing films of the postwar
period. Coppola foresaw the multimedia future but believed
that Zoetrope Studios could become a vertically integrated
firm on its own. His two peers saw deeper, letting the studios remain distributors while they provided content.
Lucasfilm and LucasArts created theatrical films, television
series, commercials, interactive games, computer animation, and special effects, as well as new editing and sound
systems. Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment produced some
of the era’s most popular films (Back to the Future, 1985;
Twister, 1996). Later, DreamWorks SKG, which Spielberg
founded with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen,
churned out features and television shows, most distributed by Universal. By 1980, Lucas and Spielberg had
become the most powerful director-­producers in the industry, and they remained at the top into the new century.
22.22 The heroes of Star Wars
million in rentals, and soon UA collapsed as a Major,
eventually to be absorbed by MGM.
Studio executives complained that every young director wanted to be an auteur, free of financial constraints
(see “Notes and Queries” online). Ironically, the rise of
the New Hollywood, a director-­based trend, led to a mistrust of directors. In the 1980s, studios strained to keep
filmmakers on track. Executives provided notes on scripts
and rushes, and test screenings sampled audiences’ reactions to the director’s cut.
A new era of blockbusters, built on packages and
deals and bolstered by stars and special effects, had begun.
Superman: The Movie (1978) was two years in the making.
This independently produced film wound up costing
somewhere between $40 million and $55 million. Gene
Hackman demanded a salary of $2 million, and Marlon
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
Brando received $3 million for two weeks’ work. Mario
Puzo, author of The Godfather, was paid $350,000 for the
Superman script plus 5 percent of the gross receipts. Millions more were invested in the elaborate sets and special
effects, prepared at England’s Pinewood Studios. Aware of
the value of a franchise series, the producers shot two
films in one stretch of studio time so as to have a sequel
ready. The film featured a score by the certified mega-­hit
composer John Williams (Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters). Released in December, Superman: The Movie eventually grossed over $80 million in its US run, becoming the
top release of 1979 and Warner Bros.’ most profitable film
to date. It spawned three sequels and millions in merchandising, along the way spurring new interest in superhero
comic books. Directed by Richard Donner, a man without
auteurist pretensions, it pointed the way to the expanded
blockbuster strategy of the 1980s and 1990s (p. 658).
Hollywood Updated
No 1970s studio could afford to concentrate completely
on big-­budget pictures. Each firm made only two or three
of these per year. But since the studio’s distribution wing
needed from twelve to twenty pictures each year to pay for
itself, the rest of the program was filled out with less costly
items—­often, genre fare revamped for young audiences.
Comedy was pushed toward gross-­out slapstick by directors and performers associated with National Lampoon
magazine and television’s “Saturday Night Live” in Animal
House (1978). Musicals were updated to incorporate disco
(Saturday Night Fever, 1977) or to playfully mock 1950s
teen culture (Grease, 1978).
Now that simply updating genres occasionally provided hits, many directors steered away from the experimentation encouraged by the art-­cinema vogue of the late
1960s and early 1970s. Most young directors did not try
to challenge mainstream storytelling. Instead, they followed Spielberg and Lucas in reworking established genres
and referencing hallowed classics and directors. In several
ways, the New Hollywood defined itself by remaking the
old. “We were very much concerned with making the Hollywood film,” recalled John Milius, “not to make a lot of
money, but as artists.”8
Many films became ironic or affectionate tributes to
the studio tradition. John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct
13 updates Hawks’s Rio Bravo, pitting a stoic code of conduct against contemporary urban violence. Brian De
Palma became famous for his pastiches of Hitchcock:
Obsession (1976) is Vertigo with an incestuous twist;
Dressed to Kill (1980) confronts Psycho with contemporary
sexual mores. Milius revived the swashbuckling action
film in The Wind and the Lion (1975). These directors
often cultivated a style that borrowed from the masters.
Carpenter’s rhythmic cutting in Assault on Precinct 13 is
indebted to Hawks’s Scarface. De Palma’s overhead shots,
startling deep-­focus imagery, and split-­screen handling of
action recall Hitchcock’s swaggering ingenuity. In Jaws,
Spielberg borrowed Hitchcock’s zoom-­in/track-­out technique from Vertigo, a device that was to be used commonly
in 1980s film to show a background eerily squeezing
around an unmoving figure.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, directors had
become reliant on long lenses; entire scenes might be shot
with the depth-­f lattening telephoto. By contrast, Spielberg,
De Palma, and other New Hollywood directors reintroduced wide-­angle-lens compositions reminiscent of Orson
Welles, William Wyler, and film noir. The results were
often striking depth of focus and distortion of figures
(22.23, 22.24). Yet directors did not abandon long lenses.
From the 1970s onward, they mixed occasional deep-­focus
shots with flatter telephoto shots (22.25, 22.26). As the
films’ scripts often updated 1940s and 1950s genres, so
22.23 The return of wide-­angle
shots: Close Encounters of the Third
The New Hollywood: Late 1960s to Late 1970s
22.24 Debt collecting in Little Italy:
the “mook” scene from Mean Streets.
22.25, 22.26 In Catch-22 (1970), Mike Nichols intercuts exaggerated deep-­focus shots with images taken with a
much longer lens.
their style became a synthesis of techniques derived from
many eras.
Several films of the New Hollywood revisited traditional genres. The Godfather movies revived the classic
gangster film but gave the formula some fresh twists. The
Godfather (1972) emphasizes the genre’s conventional
ethnic divisions (Italian/Irish/Jewish/WASP) and its
­mac­hismo values but adds a new stress on family unity and
generational succession. Michael Corleone, at first remote
from the “family business,” becomes his father’s rightful
heir, at the cost of distancing himself from his wife Kay.
The Godfather, Part II (1974) shows how Michael’s father
became a success, harking back to another genre formula,
the emigrant gangster’s rise to power. This earlier time
period is intercut with Michael’s expanding authority and
ruthlessness in the 1950s. Whereas the first Godfather ends
with Michael’s full assimilation into the male line of the
family, Part II closes with him locked in autumnal shadow,
alone and brooding, unable to trust anyone.
The Godfather did not lead to a renaissance of the
gangster film, but two other genres were revived on a
major scale. The horror film, long associated with low-­
budget exploitation, was given a new respectability in
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Exorcist and became an
industry mainstay. Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) spawned
a long cycle of stalker-­slasher films in which the victims,
usually voluptuous teenagers, meet gory ends. Adaptations
from best-­selling novels by Stephen King yielded Carrie
(1976, De Palma) and The Shining (1980, Stanley
The other significant genre to be revived was science
fiction. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was the major
forerunner, but it was Lucas and Spielberg who impressed
Hollywood with the profit possibilities of a genre previously identified with kiddie matinees and teenage exploitation. Star Wars showed that space adventure, mounted
with updated special effects, could attract a new generation of moviegoers, and its unprecedented success triggered not only its own film series but one based on the
television program Star Trek. Close Encounters of the Third
Kind turned the 1950s “invasion film” into a cozy, quasi-­
mystical experience of communion with extraterrestrial
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
wisdom. After these films, science fiction would remain a
dominant Hollywood genre, often as a showcase for new
filmmaking technology.
The young directors acquired a taste for tradition
from film school or late-­night TV, but an older figure
gained it more spontaneously. Starting as a studio contract player, Clint Eastwood moved from movie bit-­parts
to a successful 1960s television series (Rawhide) and
then to movie stardom in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns (p. 406). Returning to Hollywood, Eastwood deepened his star image in veteran action director Don
Siegel’s Coogan’s Bluff (1968) and Dirty Harry (1972).
Eastwood’s screen persona had a cynical, even sadistic,
cast that set him apart from Paul Newman and John
Wayne, his main box-­office rivals. He began directing
with Play Misty for Me (1971), casting himself as a disc
jockey stalked by an obsessive fan. Eastwood directed
conventional action fare like The Eiger Sanction (1975),
but he also brought a sour, mythic feel to the Western in
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and experimented with
his image in The Gauntlet (1977) and Bronco Billy (1980).
He shrewdly starred in other directors’ genre efforts,
which gave him big hits like Any Which Way But Loose
Eastwood shot his films fast and cheap, a process that
yielded solid profits but sometimes made them look staid
in an age of hyper-­produced extravaganzas. Yet he became
one of Hollywood’s most respected directors. He worked
in nearly every genre, from war film (Heartbreak Ridge,
1986; American Sniper, 2014) and crime dramas (Mystic
River, 2003) to biographical sagas like Bird (1988), a testament to his love of jazz, and J. Edgar (2011). He revived
the Western with Unforgiven (1992) and even made a
musical (Jersey Boys, 2014). His versatility, along with his
unemphatic style, made critics call him the last classical
studio director, but his work did have an adventurous side.
He tried unconventional drama in Million Dollar Baby
(2004) and Hereafter (2010), and his paired Iwo Jima
films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (both
2006) offered complementary perspectives on warrior cultures East and West. Although he was known as a conservative, Gran Turino (2008) was a pungent commentary on
forces that would deny immigrants a place in America.
Perhaps Eastwood’s ultimate commitment was to the solitary man of any political persuasion who, despite flaws
and guilt, persists in doing his duty. And although Eastwood’s work is marbled with violence, his tribute to the
heroic pilot of Sully (2016) resonates because, as one rescue worker puts it, “Today, nobody dies.”
Eastwood’s calm craftsmanship seemed distinctly
unhip alongside the satires and parodies pouring out of
the studios in the 1970s. Woody Allen mocked the caper
film (Take the Money and Run, 1969) and the science-­
fiction film (Sleeper, 1973). Mel Brooks made raucous,
bawdy parodies of the Western (Blazing Saddles, 1973),
the Universal horror film (Young Frankenstein, 1974), the
Hitchcockian thriller (High Anxiety, 1977), and the historical epic (History of the World, Part I, 1981). David and
Jerry Zucker, along with Jim Abrahams, savaged the disaster film in Airplane! (1980). Such zany treatment of genre
conventions had already been employed in silent slapstick
and in the comedies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Mocking Hollywood was
itself a Hollywood tradition.
Scorsese as Synthesis
A few filmmakers managed to express personal concerns
by adapting aspects of the European art film, and several
more did so by reviving the studio tradition. Very few,
however, were able to do both. Coppola managed for a
time, but Martin Scorsese blended both possibilities more
consistently. Brought up on Hollywood features, Italian
Neorealism, and “Million Dollar Movie” TV broadcasts,
Scorsese studied filmmaking at New York University. He
made an underground reputation with several shorts and
two low-­budget features before his Mean Streets (1973)
drew wide attention. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More
(1974) and Taxi Driver propelled him to fame. Raging Bull
(1980), a biography of prizefighter Jake LaMotta, won
still greater notice; many critics consider it the finest
American film of the 1980s. Scorsese’s later films (notably King of Comedy, 1982; The Last Temptation of Christ,
1988; GoodFellas, 1989) cemented his reputation as the
most critically acclaimed American director of his
As a movie brat, Scorsese was heavily indebted to the
Hollywood tradition. Taxi Driver was scored by Bernard
Herrmann, Hitchcock’s composer, and, as preparation for
shooting New York, New York (1976), Scorsese studied
1940s Hollywood musicals. Later, with Cape Fear (1991),
he would remake a classic thriller. Like Altman and Allen,
however, he was also influenced by European cinema. A
shot change in Raging Bull was as likely to derive from
Godard as from George Stevens’s Shane, and the exploration of Rupert Pupkin’s world in King of Comedy creates a
Felliniesque ambiguity about what is real and what is
Scorsese’s film-consciousness also emerges in his virtuoso displays of technique. Alongside intense, aggressive
dialogue scenes designed to highlight the skills of performers such as Robert De Niro, there are scenes of
Opportunities for Independents
22.27, 22.28 Two different fights in Raging Bull, one objective, the other subjective from Jake’s point of view.
physical action served up with dazzling camera flourishes. These action sequences are often abstract and
wordless, built out of hypnotic imagery: a yellow cab
­gliding through hellishly smoky streets (Taxi Driver), billiard balls ricocheting across a pool table (The Color of
Money, 1986). Each of the boxing scenes in Raging Bull is
staged and filmed differently (22.27, 22.28). Whereas
other movie brats created spectacle through high-­tech
special effects, Scorsese engaged the viewer by a bold,
­idiosyncratic style.
Like Allen’s films, Scorsese’s had strong autobiographical undercurrents. Mean Streets drew on his Italian
American youth (see 22.24). After years of self-­destructive
behavior, he felt ready to tackle Raging Bull: “I understood
then what Jake was, but only after having gone through a
similar experience. I was just lucky that there happened to
be a project there ready for me to express this.”9 Perhaps
as a result of his emotional absorption in his stories,
Scorsese’s films center on driven, even obsessed, protagonists, and his technique often puts us firmly in their
minds. Rapid point-­of-view shots, slow-­motion imagery,
and subjective sound heighten our identification with the
prizefighter Jake LaMotta, the taxi driver Travis Bickle,
and the aspiring stand-­up comedian Rupert Pupkin
(22.29). Like Eastwood, Scorsese continued his career
into the 2010s, usually pursuing a “one for them, one for
me” principle. He was willing to work for hire (The Aviator, 2004; Shutter Island, 2010) in order to realize projects
to which he had an almost sacramental devotion (Gangs of
New York, 2002; Silence, 2016). His flamboyant technique
could energize both a staid historical drama (The Age of
Innocence, 1993) and a tabloid saga of American excess
(The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013). For over forty years, Scorsese showed that a filmmaker could skillfully blend experimental impulses, personal vision, and the respect for
traditional Hollywood craftsmanship that characterized
the 1970s.
22.29 Aspiring talk-­show host Rupert Pupkin interviews
cardboard cut-­outs of Liza Minnelli and Jerry Lewis in his
basement (King of Comedy).
The difficulties and recovery of the Majors were bound up
with the fate of independent production in the United
States during this period. The 1948 Paramount decision
and the rise of the teenage market gave independent companies like Allied Artists and American International Pictures (AIP) an entry into the low-­budget market (p. 303).
During the late 1960s, the low-­budget independents
grew stronger, partly through the relaxing of the Production Code and partly through the decline of the Majors.
With the slackening of censorship controls, the 1960s
saw growth in erotic exploitation. “Nudies” surfaced from
the 16mm “stag film” world and could be seen in decaying ­picture palaces in America’s downtown neighborhoods. Eroticism became mixed with gore in Herschell
Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast (1963) and 2000 Maniacs
(1964). Russ Meyer began in nudies before discovering
his idiosyncratic blend of hammering editing, gruesome
violence, and wildly overblown sex scenes (Motorpsycho,
1965; Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!, 1966). Meyer films like
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
22.30 With Night of the Living Dead, Romero pioneered the
low-­budget horror film, often shot with friends playing walk-­on
monster roles. The genre would be a mainstay of independent
filmmaking from the 1970s onward.
Vixen (1968) blazed the trail for the mainstreaming of
pornography in the 1970s.
The youthpics craze was fed by AIP’s cycle of
motorcycle-­gang movies and Wild in the Streets (1968).
The films of AIP’s main director, Roger Corman, had a
strong influence on young directors of the late 1960s, and
AIP gave opportunities to Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Milius, De Palma, Robert De Niro, and Jack
Nicholson. The low-­budget independent film Night of the
Living Dead (1968), rejected by AIP as too gory, went on
to become a colossal cult hit and launched the career of
director George Romero (22.30).
During most of the 1970s as well, independent production proved a robust alternative to the Majors. As the
studios cut back production, low-­budget films helped fill
the market. Firms began to specialize in certain genres—­
martial-arts, action pictures, erotic pictures (sexploitation). Films aimed at African Americans (blaxploitation)
showcased young black performers and, sometimes, black
creative personnel like directors Gordon Parks, Sr. (Shaft,
1971) and Michael Schultz (Coo­ley High, 1975; Car Wash,
1976). In the wake of Night of the Living Dead and The
Exorcist, the teenage horror market was tapped with films
like Tobe Hooper’s grotesque Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(1974) and John Carpenter’s more sober and expensive
Halloween. Corman’s new company, New World Pictures,
created cycles and trained new directors (Jonathan
Demme, John Sayles, James Cameron).
In some venues, the cheaper films could find an audience denied to the glossier studio product. Sunn International discovered, to the Majors’ surprise, that there was
still a family audience who could be lured from the
television set with wildlife adventures and quasi-­religious
­documentaries. Tom Laughlin, the enterprising director-­
producer-star of Billy Jack (1971), showed that small-­town
viewers would still come to films that mixed sentiment,
action, and populist themes. Meanwhile, teenagers and college students began flocking to outrageous movies like John
Waters’s Pink Flamingos (1974), which owed a large debt of
underground film (Chapter 24). Theaters found that
­midnight movies would attract a young crowd; The Rocky
Horror Picture Show (1975) and Eraserhead (1978) became
profitable almost solely through such shows.
The Majors responded by absorbing the sensational
elements that had given independent films their edge. Big-­
budget films became more sexually explicit, and for a time
Russ Meyer, exploiter of erotica, worked for 20th Century
Fox (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, 1970). The Exorcist
traded on blasphemy and visceral disgust to a new degree.
Star Wars and Close Encounters absorbed elements of low-­
budget science fiction (Silent Running, 1971; Dark Star,
1974), while Alien (1979) and other films reflected the
new standards of gory violence established by independent directors such as Carpenter and David Cronenberg
(Shivers, 1975; Rabid, 1977; The Brood, 1979). “‘Exploitation’ films were so named because you made a film about
something wild with a great deal of action, a little sex, and
possibly some sort of strange gimmick,” wrote Corman.
“[Later] the majors saw they could have enormous commercial success with big-­budget exploitation films.”10
Apart from the mass-­market independents, there
emerged a more artistically ambitious independent sector.
New York sustained an “off-­Hollywood” tendency. Shirley
Clarke, known for her dance and experimental shorts,
adapted the play The Connection (1962) and made the
semidocumentary The Cool World (1963). Jonas and
­Adolfas Mekas modeled Guns of the Trees (1961) and
­Hallelujah the Hills (1963) on the experiments of ­European
new waves.
John Cassavetes was the most famous member of this
off-­Hollywood group. A New York actor, Cassavetes made
a career on the stage and in films and television. He
scraped up donations to direct Shadows (1961). “The film
you have just seen was an improvisation”: this curt closing
title announced Cassavetes’s key aesthetic decision. The
story, about two black brothers and their sister in the
New York jazz and party scene, was outlined in advance
and the dramatic development of each scene was planned.
During filming, however, the actors were free to create
their own dialogue. Although shooting in a semidocumentary style, with a grimy, grainy look (22.31), Cassavetes
also relied on deep-­focus compositions and poetic interludes familiar from contemporary Hollywood cinema.
22.31 The roughly shot beating of Ben (Shadows).
22.32 After joking and shouting, Jeannie, whom Frost has
picked up in a bar, is distressed when he breaks down in tears.
Soon she finds out that he’s pretending (Faces).
Shadows won festival prizes and led Cassavetes to undertake a pair of ill-­fated Hollywood projects. He returned to
independent cinema, financing his films by acting in
mainstream pictures, and became an emblematic figure
for younger filmmakers.
Basing his aesthetic on a conception of raw realism,
Cassavetes created a string of films featuring quasiimprovised performances and casual camerawork. Faces
(1968) and Husbands (1970), with their sudden zooms to
close-­up and their search for revelatory detail, use Direct
Cinema techniques to comment on the bleak disappointments and deceptions of middle-­class American couples
(22.32). Characteristically, his counterculture comedy
Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) centers on the love affair of
a middle-­aged hippie and a lonely museum curator. In A
Woman Under the Influence (1974), Opening Night (1979),
and Love Streams (1984), the drama alternates between
mundane routines and painful outbursts that push each
actor to near-­hysterical limits. This spasmodic rhythm,
and his focus on the anxieties underlying adult love and
work, made Cassavetes’s midlife melodramas seem experimental by 1970s and 1980s Hollywood standards.
The New York scene received a further burst of
energy from Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street (1975), a
drama of Jewish life in late-­nineteenth-century New York.
Filmed for less than $500,000, it was released nationwide
and earned more than $5 million. When it received an
Academy Award nomination, the film sparked a new
awareness of off-­Hollywood filmmaking.
The independent impulse spread to regional filmmakers, who managed to make low-­budget features centered
on cultures seldom brought to the screen. John Waters
revealed Baltimore as a campy Peyton Place (Female Trouble, 1975), while Victor Nuñez’s Gal Young ’Un (1979)
took place in Florida during the Depression. Another historical drama was John Hanson and Rob Nilsson’s Northern Lights (1979), set in 1915 North Dakota during labor
unrest. It won the best first-­f ilm award at the Cannes Film
Slowly, alternative venues were emerging for independent film. In addition to New York’s Anthology Film
Archive (founded in 1970), several festivals were established in Los Angeles (known as Filmex, 1971), Telluride,
Colorado (1973), and Toronto and Seattle (1975), as well
as the US Film Festival (1978), later known as Sundance.
At the same time, enterprising filmmakers organized the
Independent Feature Project (IFP) as an association of
independent film artists. The IFP established, in 1979, the
Independent Feature Film Market as a showcase for finished films and works in progress. The American independent cinema was poised for takeoff.
During the 1960s, the failing studios searched for new
corporate identities and business models. After some winnowing, the 1970s set in place patterns that would dominate American film for the future. A new generation of
moguls would partner with a new generation of producer-­
directors, typified by Lucas and Spielberg, under the auspices of a conglomerate. The studios would concentrate
on funding and making must-­see movies. Alongside the
expanding industry was an independent sector whose fortunes fluctuated but whose commitment to alternative stories and styles increased the diversity of US film culture.
1. Quoted in Peter Bogdanovich, Who the Devil Made It
(New York: Knopf, 1997), p. 250.
2. Quoted in Tag Gallagher, John Ford: The Man and His
Films (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986),
p. 437.
Hollywood’s Fall and Rise: 1960–1980
3. Quoted in Peter Cowie, Coppola (London: Faber and
Faber, 1990), p. 61.
4. Quoted in Eric Lax, Woody Allen: A Biography
(New York: Knopf, 1991), p. 255.
5. Gone with the Wind and the Disney animated classics
had higher all-­time returns, but they were rereleased at
intervals over many years. Still, if rentals are adjusted for
inflation, Gone with the Wind remains the highest-­earning
film of all time.
6. Quoted in Stephen M. Silverman, The Fox That Got
Away: The Last Days of the Zanuck Dynasty at Twentieth
Century-­Fox (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1988), p. 303.
7. Quoted in Bernard Weinraub, “Luke Skywalker Goes
Home,” in Sally Kline, ed., George Lucas Interviews
(Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), p. 217.
8. Quoted in Michael Goodwin and Naomi Wise, On the
Edge: The Life and Times of Francis Coppola (New York:
Morrow, 1989), p. 30.
9. Quoted in David Thompson and Ian Christie, eds.,
Scorsese on Scorsese (London: Faber and Faber, 1989),
pp. 76–77.
10. Roger Corman and Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred
Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime (New York:
Random House, 1990), p. 34.
We discuss some topics in this chapter further on our blog, Observations on Film Art:
“Replay it again, Clint: Sully and the simulations”
“Who got played? A guest post by Jeff Smith on The Player”
“HUGO: Scorsese’s birthday present to Georges Méliès”
“Scorsese, ‘pressionist”
Hanoi, Tuesday the 13th
OF THE 1960s AND 1970s
Dillinger Is Dead
ensions between the Western powers and the Soviet bloc did not lessen
during the 1960s, but there were signs that the bipolar-­world model
was fracturing. Growing rivalry between China and the Soviet Union led to
an open break in 1960. During the rest of the decade, Eastern European
peoples strained to loosen Moscow’s hold. At the same time, the Third
World appeared to be coming into its own. Colonies became sovereign
states, and many of their leaders rejected both Soviet and Western ways.
Third-­Worldism, as it came to be called, was the hope that these developing
countries would not only find true liberation but use the experience of
oppression to build more just societies.
Economic progress was first on the agenda, but regions were moving at
an uneven pace. Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea were briskly
becoming manufacturing centers. India and Africa, however, were not moving fast enough to offset the rapid rise in their populations.
Political violence intensified the difficulties of development. Apart
from the major confrontations between East and West—­in Cuba, Vietnam,
and the Middle East—­the Third World suffered coups d’états, external
aggression, civil wars, and ethnic strife. These struggles often gave rise to
revolutionary hopes. By the late 1960s, radical observers suggested that sovereignty, nationalism, and economic reform were not enough to help the
developing nations. Militants argued that the countries’ class systems, holdovers from colonial days, would have to be restructured through socialist
revolution. “Fidelismo,” the belief in persistent guerrilla warfare of the sort
that had succeeded in Cuba, fortified many resistance movements in Latin
America, Africa, and Asia.
Film history was profoundly affected by these events in the Third World.
As industrialization spread, so did filmgoing. The continued growth of Third
World cities—­at the rate of 10 million to 11 million people per year in the
1960s—­expanded audiences. Significantly, this occurred as filmgoing was
Politically Critical Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s
declining in Europe and the United States. A larger proportion of the world film audience was made up of Indians,
Africans, and Asians.
The Third World was at the forefront of revolutionary
cinema, foreshadowing trends that would emerge in the
developed countries. People were pushing for social
change—­through protest, through resistance to authority,
and sometimes through violent confrontation. Between
the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, filmmaking and film
viewing became political acts to a degree not seen since
World War II. The first part of this chapter examines how
filmmakers treated cinema as a tool of social change and a
weapon of political liberation.
In the Soviet bloc countries, many citizens strained to
liberalize Communist societies, and the most politically
provocative works of Eastern European and Soviet cinema
often asserted the individuality of the artist’s imagination.
In Western Europe and North America, unorthodox left-­
wing groups criticized government policies, educational
institutions, and economic conditions. Radical politics
entered daily life. As was often said, the personal had
become political.
Many Western radicals were suspicious of the democratic humanism that Soviet bloc reformists craved. Capitalist society, many believed, maintained an “illusory
democracy” and “repressive tolerance.” Radicals often
took Third World leaders like Mao Zedong, Che Guevara,
and Fidel Castro as models of popular revolution. By the
mid-1970s, however, militancy gave way to a micropolitics
that focused pragmatically on particular issues. What one
historian has called “the political culture of dissent” began
to permeate everyday life in the Western countries.1 The
second part of this chapter looks at how this culture
shaped filmmaking in the First and Second Worlds.
Brazil’s Cinema Nôvo (pp. 424–427) had struck a compromise between auteur cinema and political critique. Its
films were addressed primarily to cultivated viewers who
appreciated European art cinema. In the late 1960s, Third
World directors began making politically critical films
aimed at broader audiences.
In some countries, politicized cinema arose from the
same concerns for social critique that had propelled filmmakers in the 1950s. Actors or directors who had found
success in a well-­organized industry were in a strong
position to make critical films. The Egyptian Youssef
23.1 A smooth crane shot reflects the technical prowess of
Egypt’s well-­established film industry (The Land).
23.2 Umut: as Djabbar (played by Güney) and his customer
talk of finding buried treasure, they drive through a
neighborhood whose wealth mocks their dreams.
Chahine, for instance, was able to exploit his commercial
reputation to direct such populist films as The Land
(1969; 23.1). In Turkey, the actor Yilmaz Güney also
benefited from a growing national industry. His popularity enabled him to direct Umut (“Hope,” 1970), in which
Güney stars as a taxi man hoping to strike it rich in the
lottery. The film’s emphasis on daily routine and its
­episodic structure put it in the lineage of Neorealism and
the early 1960s art cinema, while its slow pace and use of
temps morts exemplify a resistance to action-­f illed plotting (23.2). Umut inspired a new, “engaged” ­f ilmmaking
in Turkey.
Political Filmmaking in the Third World
23.3 When Bhuvan Shome, a cold bureaucrat, goes hunting
near a village, a warm-­hearted woman teaches him about life,
including making him camouflage himself as a tree (Bhuvan
In India, Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome (1969) sprang
largely from the individual filmmaker’s urge to launch a
social critique. Sen had participated in the left-­wing Indian
People’s Theatre movement and had made films since
1956, but Bhuvan Shome, a comic satire on neocolonialist
bureaucrats, led him to what he called “a taste for pamphleteering.”2 Using animation, Soviet-­Montage-style cutting,
and documentary footage of protest marches, combined
with realistic scenes in the countryside, Sen created a
comic satire on a cold-­hearted bureaucrat who decides to
relieve his boredom by hunting birds (23.3). Along with
Ritwik Ghatak, the leftist director who had gone into
teaching (p. 368), Sen helped create the New Indian Cinema of the early 1970s.
Revolutionary Aspirations
Chahine, Güney, and Sen exemplify the general politicized tendency of Third-­World filmmaking in the late
1960s. But Third-Worldism called for a more militant film
practice. Many believed that Third World revolution was
in the offing. In 1962, Algeria won a war of independence
from France. African colonies, newly liberated, showed
promise of indigenous rule.
Some guerrilla wars in Latin America were initially
successful. The Palestine Liberation Organization,
founded in 1964, promised to win Palestinians a homeland. Fidel Castro had led a revolution in Cuba, and the
US-­backed Bay of Pigs invasion had been easily repelled.
China’s split with Moscow in 1960 seemed to signal the
emergence of a non-­Soviet-style Communism, and Mao
Zedong’s pronouncements carried enormous authority
among radicals throughout the 1960s. In Vietnam, Ho
Chi Minh’s National Liberation Front, at war with the corrupt regime in the South, had managed to resist US
Such developments seemed to herald a mass revolution of oppressed peoples. Algerian psychiatrist Frantz
Fanon argued that colonized people had to recognize
that their minds had been restructured by Western
­domination. “People of the world,” Mao urged in 1964,
“unite and defeat the US aggressors and all their running dogs!”3 At the 1966 Conference of Solidarity in
Havana, speakers advocated that Asia, Africa, a…
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