From cold war hysteria and rampant anticommunist witch hunts to
the lure of suburbia, television, and the new consumerism, the
1950s was a decade of sensational commercial possibility coupled
with dark nuclear fears and conformist politics. Amid this
amalgamation of social, political, and cultural conditions,
Hollywood was under siege: from the Justice Department, which
pressed for big film companies to divest themselves of their
theater holdings; from the middleclass, whose retreat to family
entertainment inside the home drastically decreased the filmgoing
audience; and from the House Un-American Activities Committee,
which was attempting to purge the country of dissenting political
views. In this difficult context, however, some of the most
talented filmmakers of all time, including John Ford, Alfred
Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, and Billy Wilder
produced some of their most remarkable work.
Bringing together original essays by ten respected scholars in
the field, American Cinema of the 1950s explores the impact of the
cultural environment of this decade on film, and the impact of film
on the American cultural milieu. Contributors examine the signature
films of the decade, including "From Here to Eternity," "Sunset
Blvd.", "Singin' in the Rain," "Shane," " Rear Window," and" Rebel
Without a Cause," as well as lesser-known but equally compelling
films, such as "Dial 1119," "Mystery Street," "Suddenly," Summer
Stock, "The Last Hunt," and many others.
Provocative, engaging, and accessible to general readers as well
as scholars, this volume provides a unique lens through which to
view the links between film and the prevailing social and
historical events of the decade.
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