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Bowery to Broadway: The American Irish in Classic Hollywood Cinema Hardcover – March 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“A fascinating study of Irish-American films. . . . Mr. Shannon shows that these films—some of Hollywood’s greatest creations—evoked a distinct world worthy of considered examination.”

(Peter Duffy Wall Street Journal)

Bowery to Broadway makes a major contribution to the study of Irish-American ethnicity. Shannon shows that in films of the 1930s and 1940s—when the Irish were putatively embracing all of modern America’s values—the group was not only represented in Hollywood, but also offered a true-to-life alternative to modernity. In the world that Shannon retrieves, the ‘local comes first.’ He mines both familiar and nearly forgotten films to discern a cinematic tradition in which Irish-American prize-fighters, priests, vaudevillians and working girls lived in a world that countered mainstream assumptions: the urban Irish were skeptical of runaway individualism, unimpressed by the promise of personal liberation, and unapologetically Catholic. The Irish whom we meet in this immensely readable book can no longer be read as stereotypes. Shannon requires us to rethink whether Irish assimilation happened in quite the way we think it did, and sometimes, whether it happened at all. This is an essential book on the Irish in popular culture.”

(James Silas Rogers, editor, New Hibernia Review , and president, American Conference for Irish Studies)

“With this bold challenge to existing writings on Irish-American ethnicity, particularly within the context of theories of assimilation, Shannon explores how Irish-American films and characters of the 1930s and 1940s express a confidence in their hyphenated identities that was rooted in their sense of place. The Irish of the urban village, in Shannon’s narrative, refused to assimilate to middle-class American norms; instead they asserted their right to be at once traditional and modern, ethnic and American. Balancing lucid descriptions of the films’ plots against an incisive investigation into their positioning within both Hollywood cinema and the socio-historical background of Irish immigrant experience, Shannon has produced a study that will appeal to film historians, cultural theorists and scholars of Irish Studies alike. Bowery to Broadway is a detailed, clearly-written and thoughtfully argued study that is sure to become the standard work on Irish-American representation in the Classic Hollywood period.”

(Ruth Barton, Trinity College Dublin / author of Acting Irish in Hollywood: From Fitzgerald to Farrell)

“In meticulous detail and with wonderfully accessible prose, Shannon presents accounts of essential, and in some cases not-so-essential, films that represent key elements of Irish-American life. . . . Shannon has staked a claim to a significant area of Film Studies and shown a first-rate ability to engage it.”

(Michael Patrick Gillespie New Hibernia Review)

About the Author

Christopher Shannon is professor of history at Christendom College.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of Scranton Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589662008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589662001
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 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: #2,042,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is an excellent presentation of the extent of the Irish influence in movies. The book is not only fun to read but very educational for the reader. It makes you want to watch the movies and helps you view them with a critical approach as to what extent the Irish culture is represented in the movies.
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