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"A scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century."—Philip French, London Sunday Observer "It is impossible to follow a narrow trail through the movies. The vistas keep opening, and May, linking movies to mass society, finds and makes new perceptions on emerging w "A scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century."—Philip French, London Sunday Observer "It is impossible to follow a narrow trail through the movies. The vistas keep opening, and May, linking movies to mass society, finds and makes new perceptions on emerging women, the rise of the studios, the special growth and appeal of Los Angeles, the nature of studio leadership and the early and persistent imputed corrupting power of film."—Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times "Lary May . . . has provided a set of new and rich insights into the changing patterns of American culture, 1890-1929. . . . His concentration on social and cultural history indirectly provides answers to questions which have baffled political historians for several decades."—David W. Noble, Minneapolis Tribune "[Screening Out the Past is] a scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century. May is splendid on the psychology of the immigrant movie moguls, on Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford as post Great War role models, and many other things."—Philip French, London Sunday Observor "Altogether, the book represents the most successful blending of movie and cultural history to date."—Benjamin McArthur, Journal of Social History


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"A scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century."—Philip French, London Sunday Observer "It is impossible to follow a narrow trail through the movies. The vistas keep opening, and May, linking movies to mass society, finds and makes new perceptions on emerging w "A scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century."—Philip French, London Sunday Observer "It is impossible to follow a narrow trail through the movies. The vistas keep opening, and May, linking movies to mass society, finds and makes new perceptions on emerging women, the rise of the studios, the special growth and appeal of Los Angeles, the nature of studio leadership and the early and persistent imputed corrupting power of film."—Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times "Lary May . . . has provided a set of new and rich insights into the changing patterns of American culture, 1890-1929. . . . His concentration on social and cultural history indirectly provides answers to questions which have baffled political historians for several decades."—David W. Noble, Minneapolis Tribune "[Screening Out the Past is] a scrupulously argued, clearly written account of Hollywood's role in bringing America skipping and giggling from the Victorian world into the twentieth century. May is splendid on the psychology of the immigrant movie moguls, on Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford as post Great War role models, and many other things."—Philip French, London Sunday Observor "Altogether, the book represents the most successful blending of movie and cultural history to date."—Benjamin McArthur, Journal of Social History

30 review for Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    Covers the birth of Hollywood and changing social concepts of "respectability" ["uplift" to titillation?] through filmography from the agenda of a D.W. Griffith to the early Jewish moguls. Covers the birth of Hollywood and changing social concepts of "respectability" ["uplift" to titillation?] through filmography from the agenda of a D.W. Griffith to the early Jewish moguls.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eva D.

    Rather interesting document regarding the relationship between mass culture and the development of the film industry at the turn of the twentieth century. If you're familiar with and fond of silent films, I'd suggest it. It covers everything from Dickson's hopes that films would be used to instill morality into the immigrant population to nickolodeons to the glamorous life of Gloria Swanson. Some of May's explanations and arguments seem a bit stilted and stretched, but on the whole it's an illum Rather interesting document regarding the relationship between mass culture and the development of the film industry at the turn of the twentieth century. If you're familiar with and fond of silent films, I'd suggest it. It covers everything from Dickson's hopes that films would be used to instill morality into the immigrant population to nickolodeons to the glamorous life of Gloria Swanson. Some of May's explanations and arguments seem a bit stilted and stretched, but on the whole it's an illuminating and engaging read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    MH

    A really well-written exploration of how early silent movies engaged with, then rejected, late Victorian cultural messaging. May does a great job setting the table, and provides a lot of useful information about the early Progressive mindset(s), but where he really shines is in describing the growth of the pictures and the people responsible for them - his sections on D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, and the two contrasting ideas of Americanness that they represented and reaffirmed, are just A really well-written exploration of how early silent movies engaged with, then rejected, late Victorian cultural messaging. May does a great job setting the table, and provides a lot of useful information about the early Progressive mindset(s), but where he really shines is in describing the growth of the pictures and the people responsible for them - his sections on D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, and the two contrasting ideas of Americanness that they represented and reaffirmed, are just fantastic. After spending so much time on the broader culture in his early chapters I wish he'd continued his cultural overview in the later ones - once we get to the movies, he doesn't write about what's happening outside them - but it's a great piece of engaging scholarship, very readable and very enjoyable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    Lary May’s Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry traces the arc of mass culture from technological usurper of morality, class, and archaic sentiments to a tool wielded by those interested in the extension of Victorianism back to the powerful instrument of modernization. Modern industrialization, of which the cinema and consumption are only two spokes of the wheel, contributed to the democratization of culture. The dramatic change from “Victorian to mod Lary May’s Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry traces the arc of mass culture from technological usurper of morality, class, and archaic sentiments to a tool wielded by those interested in the extension of Victorianism back to the powerful instrument of modernization. Modern industrialization, of which the cinema and consumption are only two spokes of the wheel, contributed to the democratization of culture. The dramatic change from “Victorian to modern life” was met with both trepidation and hope (xii). Much of society looked upon this new motion picture technology as a potential corrupter of children and youth. On the other hand, others, such as many Progressive reformers, saw it as a means to further Victorian moral hegemony. May wrote, “Reformers initially saw the amusements of the “lower orders” as the most visible form of decay. Yet in looking for a tool to restore progress, they looked outside institutions of power toward the potential of leisure” (59) For example, films by D.W. Griffith, a director who had a “commitment to saving Victorianism in the face of major external threats,” delivered Victorian ideals rather than modern ones (95). According to White, Griffith’s “forward-looking techniques were fused to a backward-looking ideal” (97). Thus, for many reformers the movies could help promote the very values that they were supposedly undermining. Once film producers fully understood the money-making potential of “stars” (i.e. movie actor and actresses that receive lots of publicity) they used them to sell their pictures. The star revolutionized the industry by ushering in ideals of the modern world. Unlike their predecessors, who tried to uphold the values of Victorianism, stars like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks “pointed to the twentieth century…[and] tried to make high-level consumption a means for restoring family stability," (146) The focus on mass consumption “showed that resentment of the rich could be lessened,” (199). Thus, although the rich were despised in the 1880s, by 1920, they were idolized and mimicked.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Anti-modernity on film. Love it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Esther

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erica Parker

  9. 4 out of 5

    Craig

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Yang

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pablo

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karen Alonzo

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  14. 4 out of 5

    Danny Blake

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paige

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  19. 4 out of 5

    Monique

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shane Perry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Raven

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sara Santana

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hector Jimenez

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ih8JaneAusten

  25. 4 out of 5

    June

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Smith

  27. 4 out of 5

    geraldine

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rami

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sechrist

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cooper

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