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Book Cover
Author Ross, Steven J., 1949-

Title Working-class Hollywood : silent film and the shaping of class in America / Steven J. Ross
Published Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, ©1998


Description 1 online resource (xviii, 367 pages : illustrations
Contents Cover Page -- Half-title Page -- Title Page -- Copyright Page -- Dedication Page -- Contents -- List of Illustrations -- Preface -- Acknowledgments -- Part I: The Rise of The Movies: Political Filmmaking and the Working Class -- Introduction -- 1. Going to the MoviesLeisure, Class, and Danger in the Early Twentieth Century -- 2. Visualizing the Working Class: Cinema and Politics before Hollywood -- 3. The Good, the Bad, and the Violent: Class Conflict and the Labor-Capital Genre -- 4. Making a Pleasure of Agitation: The Rise of the Worker Film Movement
Part II: The Rise of Hollywood: From Working Class to Middle Class -- 5. When Russia Invaded America: Hollywood, War, and the Movies -- 6. Struggles for the Screen: The Revival of the Worker Film Movement -- 7. Fantasy and Politics: Moviegoing and Movies in the 1920s -- 8. Lights Out: The Decline of Labor Filmmaking and the Triumph of Hollywood -- Epilogue: The Movies Talk But What Do They Say? -- Appendixes I: Select Filmography -- Appendixes II: Sources and Methods for Writing Film History -- Abbreviations -- Notes -- Index
Summary This pathbreaking book reveals how Hollywood became "Hollywood" and what that meant for the politics of America and American film. Working-Class Hollywood tells the story of filmmaking in the first three decades of the twentieth century, a time when going to the movies could transform lives and when the cinema was a battleground for control of the American consciousness. Steven Ross documents the rise of a working-class film movement that challenged the dominant political ideas of the day. Between 1907 and 1930, worker filmmakers repeatedly clashed with censors, movie industry leaders, and federal agencies over the kinds of images and subjects audiences would be allowed to see
The outcome of these battles was critical to our own times, for the victors got to shape the meaning of class in twentieth-century America
Surveying several hundred movies made by or about working men and women, Ross shows how filmmakers were far more concerned with class conflict during the silent era than at any subsequent time. Directors like Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and William de Mille made movies that defended working people and chastised their enemies. Worker filmmakers went a step further and produced movies from A Martyr to His Cause (1911) to The Gastonia Textile Strike (1929) that depicted a unified working class using strikes, unions, and socialism to transform a nation. J. Edgar Hoover considered these class-conscious productions so dangerous that he assigned secret agents to spy on worker filmmakers
Liberal and radical films declined in the 1920s as an emerging Hollywood studio system, pressured by censors and Wall Street investors, pushed American film in increasingly conservative directions. Appealing to people's dreams of luxury and upward mobility, studios produced lavish fantasy films that shifted popular attention away from the problems of the workplace and toward the pleasures of the new consumer society. While worker filmmakers were trying to heighten class consciousness, Hollywood producers were suggesting that class no longer mattered. Working-Class Hollywood shows how silent films helped shape the modern belief that we are a classless nation
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 279-351) and index
Subject Working class in motion pictures.
Silent films -- History and criticism
Motion pictures -- Political aspects -- United States
Working class -- United States -- History -- 20th century
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism
Motion pictures -- Political aspects
Silent films
Working class
Working class in motion pictures
Arbeiter Motiv
Working class in motion pictures.
Silent films -- United States -- History and criticism.
Motion pictures -- Political aspects -- United States.
Working class -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
United States
Genre/Form Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Silent films
Form Electronic book
LC no. 97008462
ISBN 9780691214641