Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America

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  • Paperback
  • 388 pages
  • Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America
  • Steven J. Ross
  • English
  • 14 November 2018
  • 0691024642

About the Author: Steven J. Ross

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America book, this is one of the most wanted Steven J. Ross author readers around the world.


Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in AmericaThis Path Breaking 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 American Consciousness Steven Ross Documents The Rise Of A Working Class Film Movement That Challenged The Dominant Political Ideas Of The Day Between And , 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 AmericaSurveying Several Hundred Movies Made By Or About Working Men And Women, Ross Shows How Filmmakers Were Far 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 To The Gastonia Textile Strike 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 FilmmakersLiberal And Radical Films Declined In The S 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

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10 thoughts on “Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America

  1. Beth Cato says:

    I read this for research needs As a textbook, it is somewhat dry, but still readable with interesting information throughout The emphasis is on the organized labor movement in the two two decades of the 20th century, as labor leaders attempted to utilize the new phenomenon of movies for their own ends, to mixed results Hollywood has a reputation as a liberal bastion in our modern age, but quite the contrary a century ago Labor organizers had trouble getting funding for studios, much less dis I read this for research needs As a textbook, it is somewhat dry, but still readable with interesting information throughout The emphasis is on the organized labor movement in the two two decades of the 20th century, as labor leaders attempted to utilize the new phenomenon of movies for their own ends, to mixed results Hollywood has a reputation as a liberal bastion in our modern age, but quite the contrary a century ago Labor organizers had trouble getting funding for studios, much less distribution At the same time, the very nature of society changed as the concept of the middle class emerged, with the 1920s introducing a consumerism Many movies represented the common working man in comedies such as those by Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, or played with the idea of cross class romance Some fantasies envisioned inheritances and respect come overnight, or reinforced the idea that one had best stay in association with their own

  2. Greta says:

    Excellent, though somewhat repetitive, book on how labor issues were depicted in silent films, how the film industry s labor issues influenced their ideology, censorship, and the efforts of labor to bring their side of the story to the screen Written by a labor scholar rather than a film scholar, and it s interesting to see the topic from a fresh viewpoint

  3. Bill Wallace says:

    The best chapters in this book focus on the rise and fall of labor produced movies in the 10s and 20s, history that is pretty much lost Ross does a good job of documenting the hopes of labor activists who wanted to produce independent films from the working man s viewpoint the efforts they made to create studios, theater chains, and a culture to counteract the pernicious propaganda lies about classless affluence spread by Edison, Ford, and Hollywood Of course, none of the union plans work o The best chapters in this book focus on the rise and fall of labor produced movies in the 10s and 20s, history that is pretty much lost Ross does a good job of documenting the hopes of labor activists who wanted to produce independent films from the working man s viewpoint the efforts they made to create studios, theater chains, and a culture to counteract the pernicious propaganda lies about classless affluence spread by Edison, Ford, and Hollywood Of course, none of the union plans work out but the story is plenty interesting, with all sides apparently aware of the stakes raised by the movies finger on the attitudes of America The author s clear bias on the side of labor is one I share but it doesn t improve the book and too often in this mostly fascinating history fantasies are painted as facts, mismanagement and criminality are glossed over, and the muddy left wing values of Stalin era activism are excused That said, for all the faults of the left, the political right and the capitalist establishment consistently behave far worse and one finishes this book with the usual numb sense of outrage against the common cast of American villains corporations, bankers, and smug Republicans It might have been a better world

  4. China says:

    There was an amazingly vital labor film industry during the silent era Labor Unions and Organizations AFL, CIO, IWW began their own production studios and released several feature length films that aimed to represent actual labor struggles in a fair light They were an important reaction to the anti labor studios and films being released at the time His analysis of the popularity of the movie palaces during the early twenties was particularly illuminating

  5. James says:

    Stephen J Ross argued that, before the rise to dominance of Hollywood film industry in the 1920s, a widespread worker film movement pushed pro labor, pro socialist, and anti capitalist messages to mainly working class audiences who attended nickelodians in the 1910s, which spurred a reaction by government censors, moral crusaders, and film industrialists The silent film era was an opportuninty to build a different sort of film industry of class conscious workers, which labor organizers and soc Stephen J Ross argued that, before the rise to dominance of Hollywood film industry in the 1920s, a widespread worker film movement pushed pro labor, pro socialist, and anti capitalist messages to mainly working class audiences who attended nickelodians in the 1910s, which spurred a reaction by government censors, moral crusaders, and film industrialists The silent film era was an opportuninty to build a different sort of film industry of class conscious workers, which labor organizers and socialists worked hard to build Producers, actors, and directors made this a thriving genre within silent films The movie houses themselves were rowdy and egalitarian, meaning you could sit cheaply anywhere, which kept away middle class audiences The production of the films was decentralized and diversified, often funded by petty immigrant entrepreneurs By the 1920s, following the Red Scare of 1919, Hollywood centralized production of films and pushed a class blind message that all mass consumers were middle class, and that labor agitators were cartoonish Russian agitator traitors Though unions continued to fund production, they had a hard time showing them at theaters, as in the 1920s construction of film palaces pushed working class people away and attracted middle class audiences Even today, pro labor films are comparatively rare and poorly distributed, limited to a few favorites like Matewan, Reds, Norma Rae, Salt of the Earth, etc.Key Themes and Concepts The movies that dealt with working class culture, agitation, and class conflict Ross termed worker capital films is divided into five categories radical, conservative anti worker , liberal proper organizers are non violent , populist melodramas about rise of leaders , and anti authoritarian comedies about absurdity of capitalism The rise of working class cinema in the 1910s was followed by the crushing of it by middle class Hollywood, which became a way of producing as much as a location Five points Ross found in his research 1 hundreds of movies dealing with strikes 2 workers made movies that challenged political values 3 censors and government fought to keep films out of theaters 4 movies had rich history before Hollywood 5 working class mainly the audience before WWI 6 middle class audiences preferred conservative films

  6. Evan Anderson says:

    A bit on the film school scholarly side, but a well written and eye opening book on the early social leanings of silent film before it became a big business Many of these were independent films well outside of the studio system, which was nowhere near as impenetrable and stratified as it s become since the 1920 s This was an era when women, minorities and the lower class had muchaccess to the writing producing and exhibiting of stories that reflected their lives labor, social mobility A bit on the film school scholarly side, but a well written and eye opening book on the early social leanings of silent film before it became a big business Many of these were independent films well outside of the studio system, which was nowhere near as impenetrable and stratified as it s become since the 1920 s This was an era when women, minorities and the lower class had muchaccess to the writing producing and exhibiting of stories that reflected their lives labor, social mobility and real life concerns rather than escapism and fantasy With the current though still underappreciated documentary film movement, have we come full circle An interesting question, perhaps for another book