Anna Ariadne Knight
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in Screening the Hollywood rebels in 1950s Britain
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The mid-years of the twentieth century witnessed a moral panic about juvenile delinquency in the USA and the United Kingdom, and this anxiety was expressed and explored in both Hollywood and British films. This book is a transcultural reception study of key American films that commented on juvenile delinquency and youth culture, including The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause, Rock Around the Clock and Jailhouse Rock. The book examines the changes made by the British Board of Film Censors, the ways in which these films were evaluated by British critics and the meanings that Hollywood stars such as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley generated for British film fans. By comparing British and American films featuring teenage delinquents, the book demonstrates the gradual eastward, transatlantic passage of the ‘rebel’ trope and shows how it influenced and disrupted British cinema and popular youth culture. In addition, it argues that the excessive censorship and generally poor critical reviews in the British media demonstrate the wider suspicions of foreignness, teenage consumerism and mass culture that were circulating at the time. These classic films and their iconic stars continue to generate scholarly and critical interest but no other book has re-visioned the Hollywood stardom of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley in Britain.

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