Career Movies

Career Movies

JACK BOOZER
Copyright Date: 2002
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/709119
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  • Book Info
    Career Movies
    Book Description:

    Achieving the American Dream became inextricably linked with career/business success after World War II, as an increasingly consumerist America learned to define the dream through possessions and status. Not surprisingly, Hollywood films in the postwar years reflected the country's preoccupation with work and career success, offering both dramatic and comedic visions of the career quest and its effects on personal fulfillment, family relations, women's roles, and the creation (or destruction) of just and caring communities.

    In this book, Jack Boozer argues that the career/business film achieved such variety and prominence in the years between 1945 and 2001 that it should be considered a legitimate film genre. Analyzing numerous well-known films from the entire period, he defines the genre as one in which a protagonist strives for career success that often proves to be either elusive despite hard work, or unfulfilling despite material rewards and status. Boozer also explores several distinct subgenres of the career movie-the corporate executive films of the 1950s; the career struggles of (single, married, and/or parenting) women; the entrepreneurial film as it is also embodied in texts about immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities and business-oriented femmes fatales; the explosion of promotionalism and the corporatization of employment; and, finally, the blurring of work and private life in the brave new world of the televirtuality film.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79652-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-17)

    The two clips of dialogue above, which are taken from director/co-writer Oliver Stone’s 1987 film, suggest issues that are critical to American career ideology as it has functioned under a capitalist system. InWall Street, college graduate Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) must choose between the opposing economic viewpoints and character of two paternal figures: his father, Carl (Martin Sheen), who represents a tradition of lifetime corporate service; and his chosen hero Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), who represents the Reaganomics decade of deregulation, greed, and profiteering scams. Bud’s dilemma for his time also highlights a prime concern of this book, which...

  5. CHAPTER 1 THE CLASSICAL CORPORATE EXECUTIVE FILM
    (pp. 18-49)

    The classical corporate executive film is central to business career cinema. It was born in the decade following World War II, and its era ended by 1958. These films were a reflection of new socioeconomic conditions after the war, particularly as these conditions were filtered through popular fiction and drama about big business. Hollywood cinema of the 1930s and early 1940s often punctured images of elitist business power and wealth, as in several films directed by Frank Capra, includingMr. Deeds Goes to Town(1936),You Can’t Take It with You(1938),Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939), andMeet...

  6. CHAPTER 2 THE EMERGENCE OF THE CAREER WOMAN
    (pp. 50-94)

    Unlike corporate career films, where men have traditionally dominated on-screen as in real life, there are, since 1944, approximately as many business films about female as about male entrepreneurs. In the last three decades women corporate executive characters have also become increasingly prominent on-screen. Clearly, success in business careers has obviously not always meant the same thing for women as for men, particularly since the general expectation for women to work (discounting the years of World War II) did not become widespread until the 1970s. By this time, national monetary inflation, marriage at a later age, and soaring divorce rates...

  7. CHAPTER 3 THE ENTREPRENEURIAL IMPULSE
    (pp. 95-145)

    Any consideration of the business and career film would be incomplete without specific attention to the entrepreneur, who plays such a central role in American economic history and ideology. Entrepreneurial business success is what most people have in mind when they conjure an image of the American Dream. This particular avenue of success suggests both individual independence and self-initiative, and a sense of the glory of personal and family fulfillment through those means. The dynamics of small business enterprise are also very different from career business tracks involving corporate employment and perhaps multiple employers over time. Success in small business...

  8. CHAPTER 4 HUCKSTER FOREPLAY: THE PROMOTION INDUSTRY
    (pp. 146-198)

    Having considered the two general categories of corporate versus entrepreneurial enterprise in film, as well as important issues of gender, class, and racial and ethnic identity, I wish to turn in these two closing chapters to films that address the two most significant trends impacting career and life in this age. The first is the promotional dimension of consumer capitalism, which is essential to it, and the second is communication technology, which is closely related to the first and increasingly determinative of every aspect of contemporary work experience and personal and cultural identity. No discussion of the success mystique in...

  9. CHAPTER 5 WORKING IN AMERICAN TELEVIRTUALITY
    (pp. 199-237)

    It is the revolution in televisual and other communications technologies that most defines the contemporary age and, in conjunction with the promotion industry, sets the tone of everyday experience in American work and leisure. In addition to the central cultural position of television, both the specific work roles and career tracks of today’s businessperson are increasingly impacted, like the marketplace, by the new hardware, software, and networking systems of the information age. When the constant demands of new communications technologies are coupled with the managerial trend toward the isolation of the individual as an entrepreneurial unit, the contemporary worker appears...

  10. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 238-250)

    This study of success ideology in the American business career film from 1945 to the present reveals several things. It demonstrates both how little the basic personal quality of individual initiative required for success has been altered over time, and how much the recently technologized business and work environment has changed. Career as a base for personal identity has, like the family, become less stable and more complex. Ubiquitous communications technology is tying the business office to commercialized workspace in the home, as well as merging domestic electronic entertainment, information, and consumer functions with the new social realm of e-mail,...

  11. LIST OF FILM STILLS
    (pp. 251-252)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 253-274)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 275-280)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 281-292)