All posts tagged: Issue 5

Hollywood Prefers Blondes: Analysis of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES and the Cinema of the 1950s

American cinema of the 1950s saw many changes and challenges. On January 1, 1950 the Paramount Decree had gone into effect, making it illegal for studios to control exhibition of their films. Additionally, the rising popularity of television meant that studios now had to compete for viewers and tried numerous methods, including color and widescreen, to draw in audiences. One film from this era that exemplifies the changing climate of cinema is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Released in 1953 and directed by Howard Hawks, this film serves as a microcosm of the 1950s. Hawks’ filmmaking career began in the early 1930s with gangster films such as Scarface and The Public Enemy. Hawks was conscious of the changes occurring in the film industry however and shifted the style of films he was making. He “suggested that Hollywood needed to make pictures with imagination that sustain interest because television is taking over the trivia.”[1] By the 1950s, Hawks was making screwball comedies such as Monkey Business and, of course, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Examination of the film Gentlemen Prefer …

Kelsie Schueneman is currently a junior at Oakland University from Milford, Michigan. Kelsie is majoring in Cinema Studies and minoring in Creative Writing. She is an editor of Screen Culture. Kelsie is passionate about female representation in film. This essay was written for Prof. Brendan Kredell's "Methods of Cinema Studies" course.

Class and Organized Crime in the Era of the Production Code: An Analysis of the Portrayals of White vs. Blue Collar Crime in Gangster Films

In the 1930s, the gangster flick ruled the movie theaters of America – however, only thanks to the films’ strenuous journey through the Production Code review process. A set collection of rules and regulations concerning what could and could not be portrayed on screen or implied through the cinematography or writing scenes or characterization of characters, the Production Code greatly influenced the way that organized crime and violence were portrayed in films during its reign. For instance, murder was something the Code was designed to make studios approach the topic in a way that would not “inspire imitation,” or cause audience members to get the idea that might be capable of executing brutal killings as well.[1] This fear of portraying something on screen that viewers might imitate most likely stemmed in part from the Payne Fund Studies conducted in the late 1920s and early 1930s, looking into the impact of films on the behavior of children in juvenile-correction centers, male graduate students and their wives, and young college professors.[2] This study drove the Hays Office …

McKenzy Woodworth is a rising junior and a Cinema Studies major.

The Cinema-Truth of PRIMARY

The 1950s and 1960s were political and aesthetic eras of radical reimagination, and both politics and aesthetics were unassumingly upended with the release of Robert Drew’s Primary (1960). Primary is an hour-long “direct cinema” documentary about the battle for the Wisconsin Democratic primary between Hubert Humphrey and winner John F. Kennedy. The film documents the candidates on their campaign stops, their speeches at publicized events, their glad-handing with voters, their travels, and, eventually, the day of the election and each candidate’s experience throughout the night waiting for the result. It is a major film that documents the confluence of politics and aesthetics as well as being an object of newly imagined politics and aesthetics itself in the history of documentary filmmaking. In Making Waves: The New Cinemas of the 1960s, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith writes that “the revolution in documentary film was more sudden and in many ways more radical than in any other kind of cinema”.[1] Documentary film – and the general recording of real-life events – has existed since the advent of cinema, and its …

Andrew Sweet is currently a Cinema Studies student at Oakland. He hopes to pursue a career in film production, specifically writing and directing his own features. If his television is on, it's likely that it's on the Turner Classic Movies channel. He thinks the streaming service Filmstruck is too good to be true. His favorite theater is the Redford Theater, where he had his senior year pictures taken. He loves giving film recommendations to friends and family.

SCARFACE: The Effects of its Censorship

Introduction Scarface is a gangster film based on the life of Al Capone, a notorious gangster in Chicago during the prohibition era.[1] United Artists followed the public’s love for gangster films and produced one of the “most iconic gangster films ever made.”[2] The film was produced in the Pre-Code Era of Hollywood, an era where the Production Code and censorship were beginning to be established but before the code was completely enforced. Scarface had to undergo the compulsory submissions and discussions with the Hay’s Office Studio Relations Committee (SRC) in order to be allowed for theatrical release. Getting the SRC to okay the film was difficult, and then getting state censor boards to agree to present the film in theaters also proved challenging. There was much backlash against the release of Scarface by censor boards which inadvertently led to the public’s demand to see it and overall massive popularity of the film. In this essay I will first be discussing the history of the Production Code and how that and  censorship boards affected Scarface through …

Katie Colwell is a rising senior and a Cinema Studies major with a specialization in filmmaking.

On Dragons and Ideals: An Examination of the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Franchise and the Aspects of Ideology

Film theory is a subject made fascinating by its layers; for what the methods of analysis reveal about the film to which they are applied. A film—as with any other form of media—can be viewed from multiple angles based on one’s perspective and learning, and with each refraction that results another layer to the film is peeled away, leading to greater understanding of the film as a whole. In some cases, the film in question is not a film, but a series, and the layers that are revealed have layers of their own, and the interactions between concept and film become a microcosm of a larger picture, even as they themselves are created of supporting threads. This in turn allows for surprising depth in the most unlikely of films and film franchises, such as the one examined within this paper. After all, who would expect a beloved animated franchise such as DreamWorks’s How To Train Your Dragon—inspired by Cressida Cowell’s twelve-volume children’s series of the same name—to reflect the concepts of ideology, cultural hegemony, and …

Katherine Purvin is currently a Cinema Studies major a Oakland University, and hopes to someday work in the film industry as an animator. She can often be found at meetings of the Oakland University Filmmaker's Guild.