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Cinematic Identity

Cinematic Identity: Anatomy of a Problem Film

Cindy Patton
Volume: 29
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Cinematic Identity
    Book Description:

    Cindy Patton takes Pinky as a starting point to meditate on the critical reception of this and other “problem films” and to explore the larger issues they raise about race, gender, and sexuality. Patton historicizes “problem films” and the arrival of Method acting in Hollywood, and in doing so offers new perspectives on identity politics, from feminism to the gay rights movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5040-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1. AMERICAN CELLULOID: New Medium, New Citizen
    (pp. 1-20)

    Most people can tell you, admiringly or derisively, what paintings they like but they leave it to professional critics to make judgments about artistic value. In relation to movies,¹ however, no academic degree or special temperament is required: America’s Academy Awards demonstrate nothing if not the superiority of consumer preference over critical acclaim. Everyone has an opinion about the movies.

    The populist origins of American film once made movies an uncomfortable object for scholars from the traditional aesthetic fields: only sociologists and advertisers seemed to recognize that film did more than placate the culturally destitute classes. In the post–World...

    (pp. 21-46)

    Published in the midst of cold war paranoia about world communism, the wildly popularGentleman’s Agreement(1946; film 1947) inaugurated the paradoxical companion trend of contending with America’s domestic problems through popular entertainment. Set against an agon figured on one hand as a contest between Russia and America and, on the other, as The Horror from which we could no longer retreat (the fantasized atomic holocaust, not the actual racist-genocidal ones), these apparently progressive entertainments directed their moral appeal not to nation but to humanity. And yet, the idea of humanity evoked by such films and novels was itself already...

    (pp. 47-80)

    Elia Kazan’sPinkyopened in New York City in October 1949. Predictions that it would be one of the best-attended films of the year proved true. With box office receipts topping $4 million,Pinkywas the fourth-biggest-grossing film that year and its three lead actresses each garnered an Academy Award nomination (Winnington 1976). The plot concerns a light-skinned Black woman, Pinky Johnson (played by white actress Jeanne Crain), who has been passing as white in the North while attending nursing school. She has fallen in love with an “unsuspecting” white doctor and, at the beginning of the film, returns to...

  7. 4. ACTING UP: The Performing American
    (pp. 81-106)

    I am making a lot out ofPinky, so I should confess to my selection process. I foundPinkyby accident. An elderly colleague, a historian of film stereotyping who knew I was interested in Madonna’sLike a Prayervideo (1989), axed by Pepsi because of its interracial kiss, mentioned to me that a previously censored and then nearly unavailable film was being shown that night on American Movie Classics. I was at the height of my Madonna madness and imagined her as the progenitor of every subversive image. I didn’t remember to watch the film but instead happened to...

  8. 5. TWO CONVERSATIONS: Black and White Americans on Film
    (pp. 107-138)

    I have the soundest of reasons for being proud of my people. We Negroes have always had such a tough time that our very survival in this white world with the dice always loaded against us is the greatest possible testimonial to our strength, our courage, and our immunity to adversity.

    We are close to this earth and to God. Shut up in ghettos, sneered at, beaten, enslaved, we always have answered our oppressors with brave singing, dancing, and laughing. Our greatest eloquence, the pith of the joy and sorrow in our unbreakable hearts, comes when we lift up our...

  9. APPENDIX. Pinky: A Synopsis
    (pp. 139-142)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 143-172)
    (pp. 173-178)
    (pp. 179-180)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 181-190)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)