This book provides a chronological study of popular cinema in Brazil since the introduction of sound at the beginning of the 1930s. It begins the study with a brief discussion of how people understand the term 'popular cinema', particularly within a Latin American context. The focus is on films that have intentionally engaged with 'low-brow' cultural products, whose origins lie in pre-industrial traditions, and which have been enjoyed by wide sectors of the population, chiefly at the lower end of the social hierarchy. Perhaps the most important contribution of the chanchada of the 1950s was to render visible a social class within Brazil's socio-cultural landscape, and to champion the underdog, who succeeds in triumphing, through malandragem, over more powerful opponents. Brazilian popular cinema, at least until the 1980s, can be seen as a direct descendant of other shared cultural experiences. Popular film in Brazil is littered with examples of carnivalesque inversions of societal norms and established hierarchies. The 1930s witnessed the rise of the radio, the record industry and the talking cinema. The first half of the 1940s witnessed a continuation of Getúlio Vargas's quest for economic expansion based on the creation of a dignified workforce, rewarded for its efforts by improvements in the welfare system. The book also looks at three very popular cinematic sub-genres which provided a continuation of the chanchada tradition in Brazilian filmmaking: the films of Amacio Mazzaropi; those of the comedic quartet known as the Trapalhoes; and the so-called pornochanchada series of films.
While post-war popular cinema has traditionally been excluded from accounts of national cinemas, the last fifteen years have seen the academy’s gradual rediscovery of cult and, more, generally, popular films. Why, many years after their release, do we now deem these films worthy of study? The book situates ‘low’ film genres in their economic and culturally specific contexts (a period of unstable ‘economic miracles’ in different countries and regions) and explores the interconnections between those contexts, the immediate industrial-financial interests sustaining the films, and the films’ aesthetics. It argues that the visibility (or not) of popular genres in a nation’s account of its cinema is an indirect but demonstrable effect of the centrality (or not) of a particular kind of capital in that country’s economy. Through in-depth examination of what may at first appear as different cycles in film production and history – the Italian giallo, the Mexican horror film and Hindi horror cinema – Capital and popular cinema lays the foundations of a comparative approach to film; one capable of accounting for the whole of a national film industry’s production (‘popular’ and ‘canonic’) and applicable to the study of film genres globally.
Brazilian popularcinema, at least until
the 1980s, can be seen as a direct descendant of other shared cultural
experiences. Just as a line can be traced from British music hall, via saucy
picture postcards, radio comedy and holidays at the seaside to the Carry
On films with their contemporary references, so too is it possible to
read the special intimacy which popular films in Brazil achieved with their
The time of popularcinema
For 80 per cent of humanity the Middle Ages ended suddenly in the 1950s;
or perhaps better still, they were felt to end in the 1960s. (Hobsbawm 1995:
An important characteristic of academic publications on popularcinema is
that, by and large, they discuss films made between the late 1950s and the
early 1970s. Occasionally, earlier pre-World War Two films are considered,1 but this does not contradict the fact that writing on popularcinema
tends to cover the period from the end of the Korean War (1950–3) and
the debacles of
With the enormous span of time embedded in the very grain of the celluloid, old
films and footage touch, in a sensate way, the strange and familiar longing for the
archaic past which lies at the heart of the modern dilemma. Walter Benjamin‘s
suggestion - that when delving into the secrets of modernity, including its
technology, the archaic is never that far off - grows palpable when watching film
from the archives. This project could just be called, ‘Why do we love old movies?’ To
begin to grasp how old films touch us, its instructive to look at how technology
functions within films. The power of degraded technology to create intimacy does not
go unnoticed by filmmakers today where its use extends from the avant-garde to
popular cinema. To further understand such effects, this paper focuses on one way
technology provokes intimacy: how people fall in love in the movies.
This book is the first ever English-language study of Julien Duvivier (1896-1967), once considered one of the world’s great film filmmakers. It provides new contextual and analytical readings of his films that identify his key themes and techniques, trace patterns of continuity and change, and explore critical assessments of his work over time. Throughout a five-decade career, Duvivier zigzagged between multiple genres – film noir, comedy, literary adaptation – and made over sixty films. His career intersects with important historical moments in French cinema, like the arrival of sound film, the development of the ‘poetic realism’, the exodus to America during the German Occupation, the working within the Hollywood studio system in the 1940s, and the return to France and to a much-changed film landscape in the 1950s. Often dismissed as a marginal figure in French film history, this groundbreaking book illustrates Duvivier’s eclecticism, technical efficiency and visual fluency in films such as Panique (1946) and Voici le temps des assassins (1956) alongside more familiar works like La Belle Equipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937). It will particularly appeal to scholars and students of French cinema looking for examples of a director who could comfortably straddle the realms of the popular and the auteur.
The 1940s represent a high point in the history of British film, characterised by the works of such recognised greats as David Lean and Michael Powell. But alongside this ‘quality cinema’ there exists a body of popular productions by film-makers who have not yet been the objects of detailed scholarly attention. Four from the forties addresses this oversight, drawing attention to four directors whose career trajectories had a good deal in common and can tell us much about what British film-goers expected from the cinema in this crucial decade. Leslie Arliss, Arthur Crabtree, Bernard Knowles and Lawrence Huntington were all born at the turn of the century. All had been active in a range of film-making functions in the 1930s, and all would do their most proficient and popular work in the 1940s, thereafter prolonging their careers into the 1960s through ‘B’ movies, co-features and television. Taken together, they offer a commentary on the changing fortunes of mid-century British cinema.
This book provides a chronological study
of popularcinema in Brazil since the introduction of sound at the beginning
of the 1930s. Its prime object is to show that the Brazilian films that have
appealed most successfully to popular audiences since then have engaged with
intrinsically home-grown cultural forms, dating back to the nineteenth
century, such as Brazil’s version of music hall, the travelling circus
Ópera do malandro ( Malandro, 1985), as examples of the new
approach of veteran cinema novo filmmakers to depicting popular
culture and making popularcinema, to examples of the ever-popularcinema
rodrigueano in the 1980s, and the so-called ‘abertura naturalism’
films. Finally, mention will be made of the impact of the consolidation of
the hard-core porn genre on Brazilian culture and society
and European art-house cinema.
The book begins in Chapter 1 with
a consideration of the origins and influences that have shaped
Kassovitz’s development as a director, but also the cultural
context within which he emerges as a filmmaker: arguing that his
particular brand of popularcinema is entirely consistent with the
tastes and consumption practices of youth audiences in France. Chapter 2 focuses