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An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928 (History of the American Cinema) Paperback – May 4, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0520085350 ISBN-10: 0520085353

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An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928 (History of the American Cinema) + The Transformation of Cinema, 1907-1915 (History of the American Cinema) + The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926-1931 (History of the American Cinema)
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Product Details

  • Series: History of the American Cinema (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 395 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520085353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520085350
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These are the initial three volumes in a projected ten-volume series, scheduled for completion in 1993, which explores American cinema through the 1980s. Musser, who teaches film studies at NYU and Columbia, focuses on what he considers to be the first 12 years of American cinema, beginning when films were first projected in 1895. A good portion of the work is devoted to the precursors of film: the magic lantern and its successors, including the stereopticon and such exotic mechanisms as the zoopraxiscope and phasmatrope. Although Musser recounts the plots of many of the early films, it is the film industry rather than film as an art form (however primitive) which he emphasizes. 1907 is a somewhat arbitrary date, but, as Bowser's title indicates in Volume 2, cinema came of age during the next several years. The Motion Picture Patents Company was established, films became "feature" length, and an art form evolved under directors such as D.W. Griffith. Although Bowser, curator of film at the Museum of Modern Art, focuses a bit more on cinema as art, much of her work is still devoted to its commercial aspects. The third volume, written by Koszarski, curator of film at the American Museum of the Moving Image, is probably the most balanced in regard to the art/commercialism aspect, athough the narrative seesaws disconcertingly between the two. This work, covering the flowering and apex of silent film, is sketchier than the others, being more of a general overview, as typified by the brief discussion of the prominent filmmakers and stars of the period. In general, these profusely illustrated volumes are quite readable, but their audience is uncertain. They are too detailed for casual readers, and aside from their lengthy bibliographies, insufficiently detailed for research purposes. Nevertheless, future volumes of this ambitious undertaking will be anticipated by film aficionados. For general audiences, Kevin Browlow's The Parade's Gone By (Knopf, 1968) is the single volume of choice for the silent era.
- Roy Liebman, California State Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"The sounds, sights, and smells of theaters and their audiences come to life in this volume. Yet Koszarski never loses sight of the world outside the theater." -- Stephen J. Ross, American Historical Review

"[Koszarski] brings to the period not only a secure awareness of its motion pictures and major players, but also a joy in the appreciation of movies. His book is alive with the flavor of the great silent film era, its people, its products, even its advertisements." -- Jeanine Basinger, New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

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Highly recommended to all interested in the American film industry.
Michael Samerdyke
This volume is endlessly fascinating as it covers all areas of the silent film age from the studios to the theatres and everything in between.
M
A wonderfully complete entry in the ten volume series, History of American Cinema, created and edited by Charles H. Harpole.
Charles H. Harpole

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by the slimness of this book. It is packed with information and is extremely useful in giving the reader a view of the American film industry in the heyday of the silent era.
One can read not only about popular genres and movie stars, but about how the studios came into existance (and Koszarski presents this in a clear, understandable way), and how movies were shown to the public, including the legendary "dream palace" movie theaters.
I am left breathless by this book. Was there an aspect of movies in the 1920s that Koszarski overlooked? If so, it must be unimportant. He mastered an incredible amount of information and presented it very clearly and concisely here. Highly recommended to all interested in the American film industry.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the second entry in this series that I have read, the first being The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926-1931 (History of the American Cinema, 4). That one is still my favorite, more because that is one of the most interesting times in the history of cinema than because that is a better book than this one. Basically reading cinema history in reverse, this book tells you everything you'd want to know about the evolution of the film industry from the time the feature film came into being until the end of the silent era. It manages to be thorough and insightful without being dry, and lets you see things from the moviegoer's point of view as well as giving a complete overview of the film industry itself. It even talks about the founding of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and how it coincided with the end of the silent era. This produced some strange early Academy Award results, and this book discusses that. It also discusses all of the different state censorship boards that made it impossible to make one film that was viewable in all of the states. It was this commercial consideration that made the motion picture industry decide to police itself, although those police largely had little power until 1934. Highly recommended for the reader that really wants a complete history of film during the silent era. Having read this one second, I would recommend that if you want to read the book on talkies in the series that you read this book first to get an idea of the perspective of both the industry insiders and moviegoers as the dawn of sound approached.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M on November 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a must have for any film buff . This volume is endlessly fascinating as it covers all areas of the silent film age from the studios to the theatres and everything in between. The author speaks in a factual style without being dry and the photo's all serve to illustrate the text. I have seen and read an endless amount of books on film being a dye-in-the -wool film fanatic all my life and this book stands amongst the most informative, fascinating well researched volumes I have ever seen. You know you love a book when you can't put the darn thing down, which was the case with this one.
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