Jeremy Geltzer – Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment (2016)

Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment
by Jeremy Geltzer
Foreword by Alex Kozinski
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (January 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477307435
ISBN-13: 978-1477307434

From the earliest days of cinema, scandalous films such as The Kiss (1896) attracted audiences eager to see provocative images on screen. With controversial content, motion pictures challenged social norms and prevailing laws at the intersection of art and entertainment. Today, the First Amendment protects a wide range of free speech, but this wasn’t always the case. For the first fifty years, movies could be censored and banned by city and state officials charged with protecting the moral fabric of their communities. Once film was embraced under the First Amendment by the Supreme Court’s Miracle decision in 1952, new problems pushed notions of acceptable content even further.
Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures explores movies that changed the law and resulted in greater creative freedom for all. Relying on primary sources that include court decisions, contemporary periodicals, state censorship ordinances, and studio production codes, Jeremy Geltzer offers a comprehensive and fascinating history of cinema and free speech, from the earliest films of Thomas Edison to the impact of pornography and the Internet. With incisive case studies of risqué pictures, subversive foreign films, and banned B-movies, he reveals how the legal battles over film content changed long-held interpretations of the Constitution, expanded personal freedoms, and opened a new era of free speech. An important contribution to film studies and media law, Geltzer’s work presents the history of film and the First Amendment with an unprecedented level of detail.


Quote:
A scholarly, legal history of the parallel attempts of movie producers to stretch the limits of content and language and of censors to limit them.
Geltzer brings a variety of skills and experience to this book: a lawyer, he also has worked in the movie business for some major studios (Paramount, Disney, and others), taught film theory and history at Georgia State University, and wrote and produced for Turner Classic Movies. His text, however, illustrates the difference between still and motion pictures. Although he is surpassingly qualified and although his knowledge and research are formidable and impressive, his text—save for some of the interesting photographs of sexy movie posters and scenes—targets a more academic readership and features numerous long block quotations from court arguments and decisions. Geltzer tries to lighten things a bit with what appears to be a genuine love affair with alliteration and assonance. The nudity in film he calls an “epidermis epidemic”; filmmaker Russ Meyer liked “nudie cuties”; comedian Lenny Bruce employed the “excremental expletive.” The author shows how the initial defenses of filmmakers did not employ First Amendment arguments—but eventually they did. He shows how local, state, and national authorities of various sorts clashed over the control of films. As the decades advanced, a pattern emerged: local authorities would ban, and higher courts would overturn. Later on, opponents of pornography used zoning regulations to control screenings. However, as the author notes near the end, public tastes and tolerances are in perpetual flux, and the arc of attitude has bent, for most people, toward increasing tolerance, especially in the age of the Internet. Child pornography and animal cruelty, however, remain verboten for the majority. The author describes many films (often resorting to euphemism), especially those involved in key court cases—e.g., Deep Throat. An important reference book for scholars of the law and cinema.






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Sergei M. Eisenstein – Sergei M. Eisenstein : Notes for a General History of Cinema (2016)

Sergei M. Eisenstein : notes for general history of cinema

Author: Sergei Eisenstein; N I Kleĭman; Antonio Somaini; Margo Shohl Rosen; Brinton Tench Coxe; All authors
Publisher: Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press, 2016.
Series: Film theory in media history.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English

Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Sergei Eisenstein; Sergei Eisenstein
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sergei Eisenstein; N I Kleĭman; Antonio Somaini; Margo Shohl Rosen; Brinton Tench Coxe; Natalie Ryabchikova Continue reading

Ginette Vincendeau – Encyclopedia of European Cinema (1995)

On December 28, 1895, the Lumiere brothers demonstrated their cinematograph to 33 people in Paris. Despite Louis Lumiere’s notorious declaration that “the cinema is an invention without a future, ” the occasion marks the birth of the movies. Written to coincide with the 100th anniversary of this seminal event, “Encyclopedia of European Cinema” is a celebration of the scope and variety of film in all European countries. Compiled under the auspices of the prestigious British Film Institute, this uses the expertise of over 30 international authorities on the subject. Continue reading

Howard Hughes – Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoer’s Guide to Great Westerns (2008)

British author Howard Hughes charts the development of the modern Western movie in this insightful, informative volume published in 2008 by Tauris & Company. By examining 27 movies he views as key, Hughes shows the evolving nature of the genre. Western fans are in for an interesting ride since the films range from classics like ‘Stagecoach’ to B-oaters such as ‘Ride Lonesome’ to misfires like ‘One-Eyed Jacks.’ Continue reading

Douglas Brode – Fantastic Planets, Forbidden Zones and Lost Continents (2015)

Whether you judge by box office receipts, industry awards, or critical accolades, science fiction films are the most popular movies now being produced and distributed around the world. Nor is this phenomenon new. Sci-fi filmmakers and audiences have been exploring fantastic planets, forbidden zones, and lost continents ever since George Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. In this highly entertaining and knowledgeable book, film historian and pop culture expert Douglas Brode picks the one hundred greatest sci-fi films of all time. Brode’s list ranges from today’s blockbusters to forgotten gems, with surprises for even the most informed fans and scholars. He presents the movies in chronological order, which effectively makes this book a concise history of the sci-fi film genre. A striking (and in many cases rare) photograph accompanies each entry, for which Brode provides a numerical rating, key credits and cast members, brief plot summary, background on the film’s creation, elements of the moviemaking process, analysis of the major theme(s), and trivia. He also includes fun outtakes, including his top ten lists of Fifties sci-fi movies, cult sci-fi, least necessary movie remakes, and “so bad they’re great” classics—as well as the ten worst sci-fi movies (“those highly ambitious films that promised much and delivered nil”). So climb aboard spaceship Brode and journey to strange new worlds from Metropolis (1927) to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Continue reading

Jon Tuska – The Detective In Hollywood (1978)

The Detective In Hollywood: The Movie Careers Of The Great Fictional Private Eyes And Their Creators is a fascinating study of classic Hollywood detective movies (and some of the nearly forgotten series like the Crime Doctor and Mr. Wong), based on interviews with some of the men and women involved in creating them (authors, directors, screenwriters, and actors and actresses) like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Leigh Brackett, Barbara Hale, Robert Montgomery, and many others. Continue reading