American Film and Society since 1945 by Leonard Quart

By Leonard Quart

This post-World struggle II survey of yankee cinema offers an in-depth exploration of the way movie acts as a robust cultural expression of the yank public's goals and desires.

• contains an creation that addresses the background of the decade and discusses occasions akin to the assaults of September eleventh, 2001, typhoon Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commercial concern, and the election of President Barack Obama

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L l In addition, the fifties saw the development of a distinctive youth culture accompanied by a new (though derived from black rhythm and blues music) form of music: rock and roll. For many older Americans rock music was too loud and overtly sexual, and often sounded merely like aimless noise. However, at its best and most innovative (for example, the rock of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley) the music had an energy, freedom, and earthiness that offered an undefined sense of a new life style, which vividly contrasted with 1950s conventionality.

Looking at these 1940s social-problem films, their timorousness and superficiality seem, with the passage of time, even more blatant. Of course they were constrained politically by the industry's commitment to making a profit. However, in addition to the pallid, evasive and sentimental handling of social issues these films had little energy, style or dramatic life of their own. The characters that populated these works were usually impersonal mechanical figures, lacking any sign of THE FORTIES 33 internality.

However, in On the Wateifront the parallels to Kazan's experience with HUAC and the political and social significance of the film are somewhat overshadowed by the powerful and intricate portrait of Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando). Malloy is a mumbling, inarticulate boy-man who lives as the union boss's patronised pet on the margin of the longshoremen's community. He is an alienated, tough, urban wise guy with scar tissue over his eyes from his earlier stint as a prizefighter, who masks his vulnerability by upholding a code which believes the world is a jungle where your first obligation is to look out for yourself.

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