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Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 Paperback – October 11, 1999
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Eric Schaefer's readable history of exploitation movies begins with a description of what the genre ain't--the rabid "nudie pics" of Russ Meyer (Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill!) and the drecky, knowing arthouse flicks made by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey (Andy Warhol's Dracula). Though these camp movies are sometimes labeled "exploitation," they do not exactly fit Schaefer's definition. For him, exploitation is the brand of movie that puts nudity and antisocial behavior up on the screen in the name of civic-mindedness and healthy social conscience--and with a wink. Between 1919 and 1959, sexual hygiene and antidrug movies with kicky, lascivious titles such as No Greater Sin (1939), Call Girls (1959), Nudist Land (1937), and Paroled from the Big House (1938) traveled through the country outside regular theater chains, advertising themselves as "shocking" yet educational. The posters didn't slouch either. No Greater Sin promised viewers, "You'll gasp, you'll wince, you'll shudder... so powerful, many will faint!" Schaefer argues that studying the films tells us cartloads about the way Puritanical America grappled with complex issues like premarital sex, drugs, infidelity, and alternative lifestyles. And he may be right: by 1959, audiences had begun turning to European films like And God Created Woman, films that treated exploitation movie subjects legitimately. The story of a lost culture, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is finally an archaeology of the immediate past that throws our present incoherence about sex, public-mindedness, virtue, and immediate gratification into high and sometimes hilarious relief. With priceless historical black-and-white photographs. --Lyall Bush
From Library Journal
The "classic" exploitation film of the silent to postwar eras was made cheaply with glaringly poor production values by a small independent firm, was independently distributed and usually shown in theaters not affiliated with the majors, and generally featured a forbidden topic. The genre was created when the major studios began to realize the economic advantages of some sort of self-censorship; what Hollywood would no longer put on the screenAsex, drug use, venereal disease, prostitution, and nudityAthe exploitation filmmakers would. With minuscule budgets and no identifiable stars, the exploitation film maker only had the lure of the forbidden to get people into the theater. The first half of this book looks at the mechanics of the films; production, distribution, advertising, and exhibition differed greatly from Hollywood norms. The second half examines the major catagories of exploitation films. A good look at a neglected topic; for academic and larger public libraries.AMarianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are one of those persons who just likes knowing "stuff"; if you enjoy _Longtitude_ or the _The Professor and the Madman_ then you will find this book entertaining.
The subject matter is both tillitating and important. The films encapsulate both the desires and the anxieties of the time; gratuitious scenes of sex tempered with doctor's warnings of veneral disease. What a wonderful juxtaposition of the double standards of the time.
Schaefer's style is soo easy to read too.
Much of the first half of the book is devoted to describing the production techinques, marketing and commercial appeal of these films. Film makers and hardcore cinema junkies will probably be intrigued. But this portion of the book held little interest for me. I did, however, enjoy the chapter on censorship. It discussed Hollywood history and how exploitation films developed as a sort of "alternative cinema" following the implementation of production codes by the the Hays Office in the 1920's - which censored much of the sex and other taboo topics out of the big studio movies of the era.
The second part of the book is a lengthy chronicling of dozens of these exploitation films. I enjoyed reading about the various story lines, actors and directors, though it did get a bit repetitive at times.
Schaefer is a decent writer and this book largely suceeds in its scholarly intentions. But one should remember, before purchasing, that this is an academic work directed towards a specific audience - devoted exploitation film fans, movie makers and film students. I, as someone with a more casual interest in these types of movies, was hoping for a more accessible book that covered a wider range of cult films. The appendix does serve as a good resource for the directors and films covered. It was this part of the book that I found most useful.