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The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973 (Wisconsin Film Studies) Paperback – November 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Wisconsin Film Studies
  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (November 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299247945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299247942
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even those who don't know Italian Neorealism from French New Wave will appreciate Balio's wonderfully thorough survey of foreign films on American screens. Balio takes readers through nearly 30 years of international film history, from the end of WWII to the '70s, arguing that foreign films were then at the peak of their popularity in the United States in large part because of what they offered: sexy, uncensored alternatives to Hollywood fare (restricted under the Hayes Code, which sanitized domestic product). A decade-long Hollywood recession starting in 1947, leading to studio cutbacks, the production of fewer films, and the need for theaters to seek new content contributed to the renaissance, and a new generation of young filmgoers, especially university students, eager for challenging experiences, were ready to take the seats no longer being filled by their parents. Balio also examines the marketing dynamics of certain films (Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, for example, was billed as "the greatest ghost story of them all") and allows critics of the era to discuss Fellini, Godard, Bergman, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Antonioni, Ray, and other directors at the heart of the movement. At times the proceedings cry out for a contemporary context, but film buffs and historians will find much here to enjoy.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* During World War II, American interest in foreign movies virtually disappeared. Then, in 1946, a small Italian film, Open City, was booked into a New York cinema and played for more than a year and a half. It was the beginning of the postwar renaissance of foreign movies, and the launch of the art-film movement. Balio, a noted film historian, explores the various aspects of American interest in foreign films: the appeal of Italian neorealism and the British Ealing comedies; the influence of Japanese cinema (which produced both Akira Kurosawa and Godzilla); the French New Wave, with directors like Truffaut and Godard (and, let’s not forget, the birth of the auteur); the British New Cinema; and, in the 1960s, a new crop of Italian directors (Fellini, Antonioni, Visconti). American audiences were so taken with foreign films, the author notes, that the major Hollywood studios began financing their production, hoping to snag a piece of the profit pie. A relaxing of Hollywood’s Production Code, too, allowed American filmmakers to push the boundaries of violence and subject matter, resulting in such movies as Bonnie and Clyde and Midnight Cowboy. The American studios were now, in essence, making their own versions of foreign films. For movie buffs, this is an indispensable and deeply fascinating book; a follow-up, looking at the post-1973 years, would be most welcome. --David Pitt

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
_The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973_
Today's movie audiences, made up as they are of young people, will not remember the heady days of foreign cinema, when if you wanted to view films that stimulated (and not just intellectually), you went to see the newest import from Italy or France. For me this was the sixties and seventies, but that's just because I was young myself then and knew movies were a form of entertainment and art I was going to be devoted to. My generation was not the first to watch foreign movies, of course, and there had been foreign films coming into the country for the entire twentieth century. There was, however, a boom in such films after World War II and into the seventies, and this is the worthwhile subject of _The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973_ (The University of Wisconsin Press) by Tino Balio. Balio is a professor emeritus of film, and obviously loves the movies, but he has not set out to write an explanation of why Truffaut or Bergman are important filmmakers. He has instead described how foreign movies became important in the cinematic life of American viewers, and anyone who wants to understand the influences of money, publicity, film criticism, and sexuality of the times will find much of interest, and if you are like me, a good deal of nostalgia, too.

World War Two interrupted the flow of films from Europe, but in 1946 Roberto Rossellini's _Open City_ began its run in New York. It continued at the World Theater there for over a year and a half; one of the great surprises in Balio's book is that the distribution of films was so different then that movies might stay booked in a theater for such a length of time. _Open City_ is the reason Balio's study begins in 1946.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David A. Andrews on February 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a treasure-trove of information that is both well-researched and incredibly clear. It is not biased toward any particular taste or auteur, though it is clearly the product of cinephilia--a combination that I find incredibly rare. Too often cinephile books reflect the author's likes and dislikes in a way that is irritating on top of irrational. Not in this case: Balio's cinephilia seems to drive his curiosity, such that he gives us information about all kinds of things that we have never known before. I found his information on art-cinema distributors particularly helpful, and I found his honesty about the role of sex in the success of classic art cinema refreshing. Thank you, Professor Balio.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maximus on January 31, 2013
Format: Paperback
The contents of this book are 80% plot summaries and other people's opinion. If I wanted a list of every film made during the French New Wave, I could just Google that. Balio constantly relies on the opinions of others in this book, even going so far as to quote people's plot summaries. Come on! If you're going to write about all these movies and claim to be an expert in foreign film, I should hope that you've either seen or heard enough about these movies to come up with your own summaries.

There is barely any information on the actual characteristics of these different movements. A chapter that claims to be about Italian Neorealism will just be a list of 20 neorealist films. After 30 pages, I still had no idea how the movement came about and what made it relevant. Ugh, this book is useless.
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