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Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (Star Decades: American Culture/American Cinema) Paperback – March 4, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"A collection of fascinating, stellar essays on the emerging culture of celebrity during the 1920s. Highly recommended."
(Choice 2010-09-01)

"Incisive, elegantly crafted essays chronicling the major figures in the first years of the star system. Idols of Modernity is a rigorous, insightful, and refreshing look at the stars of the 1920s, the world in which they lived, the directors, producers and studios who shaped their public image, and the audiences who flocked to see their films."
(Screening the Past 2011-05-01)

About the Author

PATRICE PETRO is a professor of English and film studies and vice provost for international education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, she is the author and editor of numerous books on film, culture, and internationalization, among them Global Cities: Cinema, Architecture, and Urbanism in a Digital Age (Rutgers University Press).

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Product Details

  • Series: Star Decades: American Culture/American Cinema
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (March 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813547326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813547329
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,132,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Rama Rao VINE VOICE on November 19, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a collection essays written by American academics specializing in the history of Hollywood. It looks at the careers of several stars of the twenties and it reveals a range of social, institutional and aesthetic issues they faced. The authors illustrate strong connections and dissonances in storytelling and style of this era when movie business was still at an infant state.

A brief summary of this book is as follows: Transitioning to sound movies which occurred around 1927/28 was especially hard for both studios and stars. Studios worried that the artistic element of silent movies will be lost in the sound version, and several stars lost their careers since they could not adjust to the new trend of recording their voices. Actresses like Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo made successful transitions into the sound. But Tallmadge sisters, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Colleen Moore, Lillian Gish and Al Jolson are a few who almost lost their careers. Ramon Novarro and Marie Dressler were moderately successful. Historians often describe twenties as a decade of great affluence and hardship for varied reasons. Beginning with the end of WWI and the beginning of great depression, the decade sustained a dizzying array of changes and conflicts in American life. The constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote, prohibition, consumer rights, and changes in dress, social behavior and sexual attitudes that clashed with traditional values. It opened a liberal culture as commercial venues, from speakeasies in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, night clubs in Harlem, cabarets in Time Square, and Jazz clubs in Chicago’s south side gave some visibility and acceptability of gay and lesbian life styles among rich and famous.
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Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (Star Decades: American Culture/American Cinema)
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