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telecommunications services the university of texas at austin inquiring mind produced by public station kqed fm in association with a news and information service at ut austin these discussions examining ideas and activities of a major university community producer cathy cover the classic list of a very kind of baseball mom apple pie that it might include movies as well for better or for worse hollywood has made its mark on american with me as punchy garrett of the ut austin new service and our guest is dr thomas shots associate professor of radio television a film at the university of texas at austin doctor shots is the author of hollywood genres ornelas filmmaking in the studio system your book focuses quite a bit on the i'd say the period between nineteen thirty and
nineteen sixty why is that are primarily it was there was an effort to try to make sense out of awards jennifer to now as the classical hollywood studio system other period right after sound was reduced in the late twenties and really running up intel network television began to kind of take over you imagine americana neil about george's a perfect term and the movies really were to a previous generation what television has been to our generation that i think the theme of the binding american cultural experiences really derived winning else for movies were in the depression or two and after that until really television took over an hour in the mid fifties to the nineteen sixty it was i think during the classical movie era that america was giving most of his entertainment and ultimately and suggest defining i think its cultural identity and sense of values and shared cultural experiences much will we take for granted now from television and her parents took for granted with what movies and
what percentage of terminology these years we watch tv in the old days people went to the movies without really being very selective about these years of inquiries we go to many fewer fans than a much more critical it's like about the films receives an investment in time and money whereas when i was a small boy or when my parents were kids it was a very difficult experience for americans you will come and one of them sections of the book that his toes on rises social force one is that he said that what you're talking about sure we tend to hide behind words like yes escapism and entertainment in many ways or entertainment has replaced or art and our culture work everywhere we have for example an issue where tv is art has never come up but clearly television is a visual medium it's a dramatic meeting that does many things that now was in painting sculpture and other art forms of done traditionally it's just that we the nature of its of its industrial form and unaffected it's overtly commercial unpopular i think tells us to turn away from your home port these things are culturally and socially
and i think primarily the reason the focus on johnny sean rowe is a business story formula like the west and the gangster the musical and story for most comprise in both film and television well over ninety percent of the stuff that we watch its highly formulaic it's very repetitive hits i can look at as a kind of social ritual as a way of continuing articulating giving us a chance to kind of define and renegotiate our values i think that you know it's interesting to consider as a visitor doing the stuff in this running another of the things that they're working on secession to consider a range of values and belief systems their appeal to and different kinds of genres the west has opposed musicals a post romantic comedy on tv that contradicts the sitcom which is the game show how covered familiar allows forms are and how obviously they do represent cern values in our society at the same time a very different those values are from one former to another and i think ultimately a different genres different types of nerd a formal as
we come to think of them as as being somewhat escapist but in fact they're very much about our lives are culturally and that the things that we believe the things that we hold dear whether it's a new pontiac on within our game show or you know the showdown on main street and john wayne westerns and so in effect if i understand this correctly that their turn to john wright isn't just an eiffel category it sang that then there's going to be specific elements of value and as you can expect to see certain wine or john or basically comes from the latin genus or species the kind of sentences that categorization term but in the last decade or so a lot of anthropologists and now analysts of culture that have more of an anthropological or intentional been looking at john reza something more than just a category and clearly well think about why something closer to home why under the disaster genre become so popular nineteen seventies and disaster films were made one where no no high winds
cannot stuff behind them it throughout you know the history of love really popular storytelling really back to captivity tales an early very you know pulled pulp fiction in the early part of this nation's history was a disaster stories in a fundamental sense but for some reason the early nineteen seventies in the wake of the ecology movement in a variety of think of factors for some reason it takes off it becomes somehow a means of our society examined certain aspects of this relationship to nature it's in a relationship a certain point a social organization zone binding expresses was running a boat or being a building together in a certain type of experience and you know for some reason that genre takes off or couple years and burns out very quickly and the fact that i think a film like their plan a parody of the genre could've been made a couple years ago in a case that do we have that that john has run its course that we've become self conscious enough about how we used it odd that now we can make fun of it and make fun of it and make fun of art that of ourselves and a sense for having
invested so much emotion in the general polls are partners of poseidon adventure and you get six categories for your book tells about little bit well what i did with this a hollywood genres it was more than a mouse a matter of arm wrestling with a publisher but a hack that's another story altogether are we putting was decided that this honors that i would focus on would be the the western the gangster the hard boiled detective genre which of the sam spade for more on cost of those bogart films are in the forties and where and also the us screwball comedy actress in heparin films though especially in the nineteen thirties with frank operas movies happened when my microphone so school or college honor and a musical and a journalist not paid much attention of ethics extremely important family melodrama what what were called in the nineteen fifties we bees or hank peck says for it intended to refer to men settling down so at night yeah the a an interesting they're still doing very well i think it's in a cinema in the seventies or early eighties the parentage is more male and female in those
melodramas things like a research career but gone those women songs especially douglas sirk smoothies things like written on the wind and all heaven allows imitation of life which are the box office blockbusters of their of their era and there probably are some of the more fascinating i think efforts to make sense out of the american dream and especially in terms of family and marriage and all of our business back in the nineteen fifties was the generally were concerned barrister by critics in the fifties by the way which which have been especially marxist and feminist critics are a lot more saddam now than many critics might have been in the nineteen fifties for a strange stuff and as i think as we get a little distance from these movies historically it becomes more obvious either working in the society i think i gotta shout china will be tapped him at these categories some more but i can move back to cynthia meachum the studio system i think probably a lot of moviegoers to day matter be from a year with the studios in
pg for his images are a big question that is something only gay but in our filters take for granted yeah i think one of the reasons that we can lead to these assumptions about the ritual nature of moviegoer and the anthropological value of these films and reason were articulating our shared cultural values won not has to do with the way they're produced by studios the studios were basically those companies warner brothers free century fox promote and gm insider those companies which in the course of their history developed a system of or one company basically would produce movies distribute movies through leasing companies and shamu three theaters that they control so there's a cost in cash flow so it was a system that was the closest to is a matter for the supreme court dismantled that system in nineteen forty eight which really lead to the end of the hollywood era had a lot to do with televisions be able to get a foothold once that the ecosystem was opened up and the theaters basically the studios were told it
get rid of theater so it really did did severe damage that system that basically that system enabled two things are fundamentally of the group are number one enable the studios to casserly gauge the audience response to the moves they're making and to refine the genres for years to just to know was working with republicans or is it to him you know why why the formulas that we haven't been changed to the us it was a sitcom or the cop show why that you know what are we why was why were there or the thirty one westerners on television in nineteen fifty nine there are not there's not one today why are why whitey genres live and die and the nielsen ratings in many ways provide the same means of audience feedback to tv today at the austrian the cost of your system in the early years when they could cut cause we measure box office response and have some idea what was working at the public but also the study is also where we do is produce films are economically in a collaborative production system whereby there is a very clear division of labor director cinematographer editor cyrus or a screenwriter and movies can be
produced economically and record play and and back in the old days in the age of the studio system a major studio and produce around fifty movies here which is pre tremendous amount of films are anywhere from fort sumter fell your big produce buyers by the big major studios are back in this classic era whereas these years opry year they may produce eight to tan and at least a couple more that they haven't produced and apparently so it's out movies today every movie is in a sense a roll the dice because as normal a close system and you can be guaranteed you're from or shown a certain theater for certain on a time where there is a neighborhood that used to going to that theater asparagus might notice that system has long been an hour we are much more of an orientation where every movie is an individual company and puts off in many ways and the studio system as a matter of fact just shifted over time to all the television virtually every major studio in it for disney early sixties developed a branch that did television production gradually became much more important from production areas although the
posture than movies ever have the bigger the studio system was right after world war two and i never had two billion dollars is a lot of inflation of course but that as we get close to the end here of nineteen eighty two it appears that we're or three billion dollars this year in gross revenue so the movies are lots of flesh of course fury always been made to making it much much more money and our it's much less systematic it was back in those years so and i also as resilience his image on reforms of movies but we see a lot of on television on a very obvious formulaic stuff you're listening to be inquiring mind our guest is dr thomas shots for the radio tv film department at ut austin speaking on his book hollywood genres i'd like to get to the categories tell us about the western pro western as it is is the one formula narrative form and it predates the cinema substantially of course the young commissioner captain details before it will be tough to say exactly when the western ricketts had an american culture
safe to say i think mid nineteenth century with the iphone and the rest as beadle was one of the guys that god established the dime novel and he was he was well off one of the dime novel producers that was very alien to westerns and by the turn of the century the west to become a very popular story former indian american literature it's funny that it took really until sound comes along the hourlong order type genres especially gangster in western don't really take off until or until there's noise in movies these these films did show up here and there in the early years john forte especially had some pre successful so westerns but they as far as a reserve real fundamental genre that was that was due to quote the box office so it wasn't really until the b movies that do that low budget films of the early thirties as a monogrammed republic films and then it really took off of john ford's stagecoach nineteen thirty nine the west and so i think as it is significant in that it doesn't become popular as a film until
really the late thirties and the forties when america has already affected its transit the duty industrial revolution a transition from a primarily rural grant winner industrial lifestyle where the majority of people now live in cities no longer in the country where we pretty well i think as a culture began to resign ourselves to a certain type of urban environment what's a certain title now is that we associate with that and the west i think was less america stalled i think aware just make users of our roots are not losing her sense of tradition our sense of values that we had to had cultivated over the last couple hundred years in many ways you can look i think the operable detective from this kind of that as the urban counterpart to the to the western both genres very different from the gas to run away when it where the character very clearly sides have one son and a lawnmower was in both attack to someone a western you've got a hero who is both who who has allied itself with the forces of social order but there's no there's no legitimate representative of social wars usually a renegade used as renegade status as the talents of the threatening forces whether it's
gangsters near density or whether it's a you know indians are outlaws are in the west the point being that you've got a hero who who was able to live in both the pro social me antisocial informant and he basically needs those kinds of of opposed values for us and make sense out of the valiant longer but also celebrates rhyme individuals and rides off in the sunset in the movie whenever it doesn't assimilate the values of the society protect an expert important very different from dramatic films that do do we say some of those adenauer and in more recent years of the same the western i would think of clint eastwood definitely does not even certain things that you just mentioned a dozen assimilate into the society rides off into the site is eleanor is playing dirty harry or other man with no name the sergio leone in movies for a very sort of character i think is towards a perfect example by the waste wood is the unheard a john wayne as the highest paid most popular actor on the planet and not by far by the way so far beyond even warns popular is it's pretty stunning but the
young and the interim father was as branson was another characters they will be played both western and an end and detective type characters the oud the western as has really i think tended to move out of the western landscape more more recent in recent years and it's gone into outer space westerns the basic parts of the west and transfer all i think in a lot of ways and a few stumping a film like star wars and it is easy to explain star wars and as a westerner even a swashbuckling or asperger's or sword fighting but i mean that the heart is outer space but clearly the social need that the view of society we get in that realm and especially behavior of the characters that their attitudes toward women women's attitudes towards women the get the hotel whole attitude about the solving problems to find solving problems in the use of force on business but douglas gets pretty esoteric stuff but there are many scenes in that found rome for the pornographer was read by george lucas george lucas was a graduate students cinema
studies at usaid koeppel was a grad student from studies at ucla an awfully nice guys literally studied movies martin scorsese who made nearly are painting streets in taxi driver actually taught film at nyu these are these are people have a very strong sense of film has just been spent hours more tortured genius kids like world watching old movies very regular for paris we have a sense of film history and the critical theoretical sense of film is written for parents and reasonably enough is their mini season star wars there they're all my shoes to old movies and the most obvious ones are tonal john ford western and it for this extra with john wayne called the searchers were literally scenes are shot by shot left and right out of the old west in the scene with a kid comes back and finds is an orca killed in the house burned out for example has lifted a scene from the servers and there is an immediate and eggs and there's an awful lot going on a contemporary film about oracle that's a function i think very much of the self conscious of young directors these years what
it shouts what's happening in a screwball comedy pair a family left in mel brooks' in alice fell school board kind of authenticity is a misleading term though it was used in the nba thirties and forties to re for basically a romantic comedy where the behavior of the characters was considered to be antisocial or a social i'll go with yours a situation comedy and art kind of carcass of a slapstick i think we tend to lose our sense i say closer would be something like annie hall are actually they're virtually any any county revolves around or a manic situation where the curators clear odds with social convention aren't mel brooks is often his own plan and some we're clearly there is that so that's a tradition of siding closer maybe keep her something that would be the savior of frank capra with them the studies gaza town was supposed to watch an orchestra but there are i don't think you're right now are just as far as movies are concerned comedy is as nearly as
significant a form as it has been in the past and it allowed us to be just general social mood its was an action adventure was much much more popular art form these years and this indigo three protesting cycles again it's that kind of struggle this is from the present to make sense of it but i think if we look at the at the front of the restaurant all the box office year in year out it seems pretty obvious that the things we refer to as escapism an action adventure again escapism sort that always puzzles me because i on the one hand i think it's obvious that we're christians were like escapism or watch movies because we can relax because we sit back and we're not aware of the kind of work we do make sense of movies but indeed bullies wouldn't make any sense to assume all of them infertile or owned can human condition or social environment to our own values to our own attitudes and police etc it is a matter so much as getting from our particular realities as redefining it in dramatic terms with this with storytelling has always done naturally have a lasting musical odd jihad thought the vessel her
house in texas is is that behind the best we can do i don't know it's tough to say i think god there have been there had been films over the last few years all i just for example been marginally oscar says is nearly our film was a and the glorious failure ultimately but just to me is a very very significant fallon it's a film that in many ways does hearken back to the old musical tradition which always dealt with not just putting on a show in expressing oneself spontaneous reserve has ways but getting at the nature of love what it means to communicate to entertain someone out the basic and then the whole debt in a crisis that the faucet or to the clip of irish immigrants were not films recalls the kinds of things that gene colan for mr gray and decades ago and ended up john travolta in greece and concern i fear on stuff much more topical and that is today with astaire films were thirty forty years ago all ages a much more academic exercise a minute that's a phone that's much more it's it's a highbrow film and i would say the things like greece and so night fever probably keeping it are
keeping the musical tradition alive as was going out at the same time we shouldn't forget that italian tv especially with this video business where are your rock n roll songs are being done very little snippets real significant stuff cause when i've got a couple of kids who are who are just getting all have to appreciate that are unsavory old it's kind of scary but the out the did we do wish you the musical has has spread out and gone through this would start phasing really going to come through a concert hall a sub genre shall we say and there's this there's the much more topical attractive to younger kids tide greece then and as of the summit all ages which is a much more of an interior more of an academic exercise still alive i think in a couple of different ways is this family melodrama existing you ah i think the fellow your drama is because most strong in television soap operas the primetime melodramas taking over abortion so the soap operas take more primetime with things like honesty and falcon crest and of course
doubt are eight is enough is this hour long no drum with a laugh track or it's little weird but there are i think we do see felon or drama all over the place on television we do see with those are courageous career in there art in the cinema i think we get so much onto that we really look for it thirty four years ago was a really popular one candidate i can't begin to tell you how popular the movies were in the fifties it's it's really amazing people cry i mean without id to get to be santa i think well first of all there were called women's films and many films and the reason was that the vast majority of that of the audiences multiple one and they did the best position in the afternoons when house was a good movies against defamation think of going to movies in part it's this world for my mother doing this back in the fifties going over dinner with friends going to the er ok that there is a felon and douglas sirk i mentioned before imitation of life in nineteen fifty nine is the fourth most popular film of the year and it was universal's all time biggest moneymaker who was tried
before though that dr the rock hudson doris day or which we took the melodrama somewhere else and opened a much lighter comedy and awe and again i think tv soap operas weekend displaced about peyton place et cetera it was that hit tv africa dionne though the movie genre lost loads punch how far more these categories it sounds like from what she said cheney cause exchange of gasoline as basically a matter i think of the industry learned to measure the audience a measure changing attitudes and he thinks it's more than what can go awry as lonely hours and melodramas are certainly can see our family melodrama showing up in westerns and space launches for sure your fans know to what degree is a formica during a family drama back in the states in many ways it is i think that you know one other thing is about a vital cultures that the stories it tells itself are our cars are we going to be retold but without becoming too highly convention was they're changing all the time it's pretty dynamic of that and the industries or are designed to have some degree of flexibility as entrenched as they may seem to
The Inquiring Mind
Hollywood Genres
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KUT Longhorn Radio Network
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Host Kathy Glover speaks with Dr. Thomas Schatz, Assoc. Professor of RTF at UT Austin, and author of the book "Hollywood Genres." They discuss the "classic era" of Hollywood, 1930-1960, and they talk about the six classic genres: Western, Gangster, Hardboiled Detective, Screweball Comedy, Musical and Family Melodrama.
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Copyright Holder: KUT
Guest: Dr. Thomas Schatz
Moderator: Kathy Glover
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Chicago: “The Inquiring Mind; Hollywood Genres,” 1982-10-01, KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022,
MLA: “The Inquiring Mind; Hollywood Genres.” 1982-10-01. KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <>.
APA: The Inquiring Mind; Hollywood Genres. Boston, MA: KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from