COMM 546 Lecture 6 - The Cultural Hydra

COMM 546 Lecture 6 - The Cultural Hydra - Dana Coen COMM...

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Dana Coen COMM 546 (History of American Screenwriting) Spring, 2010 Lecture #6 THE CULTURAL HYDRA Recap : In the 30s women screenwriters are in retreat. But sound films turn out to be a boon for witty male writers like Herman Mankiewicz and Ben Hecht. The studio heads dislikes their ilk…. …but Irving Thalberg relates to screenwriters and helps them refine their story-telling skills. He also institutes a series of policies that disrespects their work…. …by subjugating it to the studio’s ongoing aim of producing successful entertainment. Sensitive literary figures such as F. Scott Fitzgerald find the environment tough-going. At the same time the studios relent to a strict censorship code imposed by the Production Code Administration. The result are screenplays that are more clever but less a reflection of reality. The studios, at the height of their powers. ...
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2 ...use the Depression as an excuse to extract a fifty percent pay cut from their creative personnel…. …and manipulate public opinion to defeat writer Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor. Screenwriters respond to censorship and studio bullying in two ways. ... They work to produce a more powerful union. Any many join the Hollywood Communist party. Present : As Hitler’s Third Reich begins its invasion of Europe in 1939…. ….Herman Mankiewicz lies in a hospital with his leg broken in three places from an auto accident. His career is equally shattered. The result of…. Too much drinking. Too much gambling. And too many ill-advised wisecracks. A bedside visit from Orson Welles, the young, producer, director and star of The Mercury Theatre of the Air….
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3 …leads to an offer to write some low-paying radio scripts…. And an eventual collaboration on what will become widely regarded as the greatest American film to date. 1941’s “Citizen Kane” is the high-water mark in the careers of both Mankiewicz and Welles. Show Citizen Kane photo. Using his earlier access to William Randolph Hearst as fodder for his story. ... ...Mank creates the tragic portrait of a newspaper tycoon with the instincts of a populist but the ego of a dictator. The script and Welles’ film improves upon or breaks almost every film convention of the day . ...resulting in a startling and fresh look at cinema’s future. Screen breakfast montage from Citizen Kane. And this from a twenty-five year old theatre upstart and a forty- three year old drunk. Despite the film’s success. ... ...a nasty, public argument between Welles and Mankiewicz over the script’s authorship. ...
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4 ...further fuels an already existing problem for screenwriters. As directors become more comfortable with their role as final artistic arbiter. ... ...they begin to develop the impression that they are the true-
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COMM 546 Lecture 6 - The Cultural Hydra - Dana Coen COMM...

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