American Cinema of the 1960s: Themes and Variations by Barry K. Grant

By Barry K. Grant

The profound cultural and political adjustments of the Sixties introduced the U.S. toward social revolution than at the other time within the 20th century. the rustic fragmented as numerous demanding situations to country strength have been met with expanding and violent resistance. The chilly struggle heated up and the Vietnam conflict divided americans. Civil rights, women's liberation, and homosexual rights extra emerged as major social matters. loose love used to be celebrated whilst the last decade was once marked by way of assassinations, mass murders, and social unrest.

At an identical time, American cinema underwent radical swap to boot. The studio procedure crumbled, and the construction Code was once changed via a brand new scores method. one of the demanding situations confronted by way of the movie used to be the dawning shift in theatrical exhibition from city facilities to surburban multiplexes, a rise in runaway productions, the increase of self sustaining manufacturers, and festival from either tv and international paintings movies. Hollywood videos turned extra cynical, violent, and sexually particular, reflecting the altering values of the time.

In ten unique essays, American Cinema of the Sixties examines a spread of movies that characterised the last decade, together with Hollywood videos, documentaries, and self reliant and experimental motion pictures. one of the movies mentioned are Elmer Gantry, The residence, West part tale, The Manchurian Candidate, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cape worry, Bonnie and Clyde, 2001: A area Odyssey, hour of darkness Cowbody, and simple Rider.

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Documentary filmmakers abandoned the tripod and took the camera on their shoulders into the midst of the action. Primary (1960), about the Wisconsin Democratic INTRODUCTION 15 presidential primary campaigns of Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, showed the candidates both in public appearances and behind the scenes in the kind of moments rarely seen before. The film features a celebrated scene in which the camera follows Kennedy emerging from a car outside the hall where he is to speak to a group of local voters, and moving through the entrance and a relatively dark corridor into the large, well-lit hall crowded with people and onto the stage, changing focus and aperture as necessary.

The ranchers, essentially Wade’s vassals, attempt to teach Theron a nasty lesson, demonstrating the pervasiveness of patriarchal assumptions and 28 CHRISTOPHER SHARRETT the impossibility of keeping them in check: they are a kind of gossipy, ghoulish chorus, made awful by the cruel humor Minnelli gives them. ) The tenant ranchers take Theron into the nighttime woods (the sexual connotations here hardly need Freud for explication) in search of snipes that don’t exist. The ranchers giggle as Theron is left alone in the wild, blowing a whistle that he has been told will draw the snipes.

Perhaps the most significant moment in the cultural reconception of American cinema as art was the publication of Andrew Sarris’s article “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962” in the winter 1962–63 issue of Mekas’s Film Culture. Boldly proclaiming, “Henceforth, I will abbreviate la politique des auteurs as the auteur theory,” he opened the floodgates of criti- INTRODUCTION 19 cal debate by arguing that movies, even Hollywood genre movies, may be read as expressions of a personal vision on the part of the director.

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