News and Entertainment in the U.S.

Topics: Film, Film genres, Cinema of the United States Pages: 10 (4220 words) Published: February 5, 2013
The 1950s were an era of economic growth. With the 1950s, came the advent of television sets in every home, and so, cinemascope was then developed as a desperate attempt by studios to attract viewers back to theaters and drive-in movies. But all in all, the last vestiges of the Studio System dissolved because of the new ways of representing the real world in films, but also because of new directors, and new approaches to acting. - The evolution of films and of acting in the 1950s:

Indeed, what begins to happen during the 1950s is a movement away from the big Studio Films to little films about believable characters whose conflicts are more inward than outward. Introspection becomes important and, in some respects the best films of the 1950s are the ones that announce the great films on the 1960s (Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954), or Sydney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957). These films have in common two important qualities: on the one hand, directors interested in telling small but important stories and, on the other hand, young actors who bring new dimensions to characterization and emotional intensity (the icons of the period being Marlon Brando, James Dean… both using the “method acting approach”, which was taught in what was to become a very famous school of acting: “the Actor’s Studio” (created in 1947 by Elia Kazan, among others). - Hollywood and politics in the 1950s:

In the 1950s, politics was also to brutally invade the world of cinema, with the great “Red-hunts” that happened with the “Cold War” (between the USA and the USSR, the Soviet Union). In those days, the USA was afraid of the spread of communism in Europe and they actively fought all that could be considered as communist on the American soil. Thes were the days of the “Red Scare” and of the Witch-hunt organized mainly by one man: Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Red Scare started in 1947, but it mainly altered the temper of American society in the 1950s. Its was characterized as an anti-intellectual policy, which violently hit Hollywood. Indeed, as soon as 1947, there was the first “Hollywood Blacklist”. The “Hollywood Blacklist” was a list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment because of their political beliefs or associations, real or suspected. These artists could not work because of their membership or simply because of their sympathy toward the American Communist Party, or toward merely humanitarian political causes. There was a special committee in the American House of Representatives, and the goal of that committee was to fight all the activities that were not judged “American”… which means that this committee hunted any communist-related activities. The name of the committee was the HUAC (= House on Unamerican Activities Committee) it was mainly active during the Cold War, and in the fifties especially. There was a real black list with the names of ten artists (directors or writers) who were accused of refusing to give testimony to the HUAC. These artists refused to answer the question "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?", and they justified their refusal by referring to the First Amendment of the Constitution, the amendment which gives the Americans the right to freedom of speech and assembly. The “Hollywood Ten” (as they were then called) were eventually accused of “Contempt of Congress”, in 1947. They were also fired from their jobs in Hollywood. Despite their appeals to the Supreme Court, they went to jail for one year (in 1950), and when they were released from jail, they still could not find any work in Hollywood. In the late 1940s, early 1950s, the hearings began. Several Hollywood professionals, including Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan, testified that the threat of Communism in the film industry was a serious one. In contrast, some Hollywood stars, including director John Huston and actors Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, opposed the...
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