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  • American Cinema - 100 Years of Filmmaking [VHS]
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American Cinema - 100 Years of Filmmaking [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: John Lithgow, Joe Morton, Kathryn Bigelow, Brian De Palma, Edward Dmytryk
  • Directors: Alain Klarer
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 5
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • VHS Release Date: March 15, 1995
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303396690
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,478 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Given the difficulty of living up to such an ambitious title, American Cinema, a nine-hour public television overview of the movies, is a remarkably entertaining, informative, and informed introduction to movies in the U.S., from the silent era to the Sundance generation. Divided into 10 self-contained episodes, the series begins by looking at the practical magic of movies. "The Hollywood Style" and "The Star" examine the underpinnings of filmmaking and star making in carefully chosen examples and contrasts: the changing Hollywood style from Casablanca to Chinatown, the studio-controlled career of Joan Crawford compared to modern star Julia Roberts. Later episodes single out specific genres for study ("Romantic Comedy," "Film Noir," "The Western," and "The Combat Film") and chart the changing face of Hollywood from "The Studio System" to "Film in the Television Age" to "The Film School Generation," concluding with the American independent explosion in "The Edge of Hollywood." A rich array of illustrative film clips and interviews with directors and stars as well as commentary by historians and critics invigorate this whirlwind tour through the dream factory. It's a smartly written project and a solid introduction to American movies that, for all its generality, creates absorbing and entertaining film history. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
If you weren't lucky enough to have caught this series on PBS or the BBC, you truly weren't lucky. This is a terrific documentary on the history of American film with wonderful interviews and an especially good collection of exemplary scenes running the gamut of genres. Especially interesting (at least to my mind) are the episodes on film noir and the film school generation (i.e. Coppola, Scorcese, Lucas etc.), each of which is surprisingly encyclopedic in execution, considering the breadth of the topics covered. All in all, if you are a film buff like myself, this would make an excellent addition to your video library.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By EgusHdus on June 3, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Writing a screenplay? Trying to do an indie? This set TOUCHES on 100's of important (sometimes obscure) American films...just enough to make you want to find some of them for further study and ignore others. You will see, within catagories or timelines, snippets, some brief but some several minutes, give you the highlights, the substance.
This is NOT MGM's "That's Entertainment".
This IS a series of entertaining, lucid programs that follow like film school seminars but are easily understood by even the most casual viewer. Note, the series does not play to the lowest common denominator. A true film buff and their film-hating spouse could watch this together, and both walk away amazed. My elementary school kids now understand as much about film making history as many professionals I know.
This would be a great gift to your local school.
I highly recommend this if you are interestted in Digital Video, especially home filming, guerilla film-making, or just getting ready for film school itself. This set is entertaining, but is an education in itself.
The shots, the sounds, the explanations of what works, the experiences of current filmmakers, the reasons for success of prior filmmakers, WHY the public taste changed in every decade(o-o-h, never thought of THAT, eh?)... This is a dream come true if you do not live within commuting distance of a film school or don't have the [money]...
Trust me on this one. You will not regret this purchase.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 12, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This ten-installment love letter to Hollywood and American film was originally aired on PBS, and comes on two two-sided DVDs. Introduced by John Lithgow, each segment is then narrated by a different actor and covers the following subjects: The Hollywood Style, The Star, Romantic Comedy, Film Noir, The Western, The Combat Film, The Studio System, Film in the Television Age, The Film School Generation and The Edge of Hollywood.
Each segment runs about 54 minutes and is well-written, loaded with illustrative scenes from great films, and filled with interviews by filmmakers, actors and film scholars. I especially enjoyed the Romantic Comedy and The Studio System segments, but each is so well done that you will undoubtedly find favorites of your own.
The only weakness here is the lack of any real documentation. When so many films and actors are discussed, it would add value to this collection to have a good index.
If you enjoy film and are interested in a thoughtful introduction to this American art form, you can't go wrong with this collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gregor von Kallahann on May 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This series, which ran on PBS a few years back and is still repeated from time to time, is certainly the "excellent overview" that the previous writer said it was. Film buffs and certainly film students should make a point to see it. As comprehensive as it is, though, many of its main points have been made elsewhere (television changed the movies in significant ways; war movies changed profoundly after Viet Nam, etc.)...and it IS expensive. I would hope that academic libraries (especially those with film studies programs) and larger public libraries are buying this series. The demand is certainly there. As an individual purchase, well, if you can afford it and you're a big enough devotee, it should be a welcome addition to your library.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 2002
Format: DVD
Animation. Even Orsen Welles has said on numerous occasions that the single biggest influence on his visual approach to Citizen Kane was Walt Disney's Pinocchio. Disney's impact on cinema with his specific use of sound and especially Technicolor,and its ability of color to support the dramatic stories he told must not be underestimated. Disney even had exclusive rights to 3 strip Technicolor for a number of years. The "integrated" movie musical BEGAN with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and was immediatly co-opted by MGM in it's succesful slew of musical movies. Why he is virtually entirely missing from this documentary is quite simply shocking. Otherwise, it's a fun watch.
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