The history of Hollywood and filmmaking comes alive in this spectacular nine hour celebration of movie magic. It's a mesmerizing, epic analysis that combines rare archival film, key scenes from immortal movies, interviews with leading filmmakers and commentary from noted film scholars and critics. As seen on PBS, this highly acclaimed series is the definitive chronicle of the American cinema, from its beginning to today. Includes interviews with Robert Altman, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Spike Lee, George Lucas, Sidney Lumet, Julia Roberts, Martin Scorsese, Gene Siskel, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, and many more! Episodes: The Hollywood Style, The Star, Romantic Comedy, Film Noir, The Western, The Combat Film, The Studio System, Film in the Television Age, The Film School Generation, The Edge of Hollywood.
Given the difficulty of living up to such an ambitious title, American Cinema, a nine-hour public television overview of the movies, is a remarkably entertaining, informative, and informed introduction to movies in the U.S., from the silent era to the Sundance generation. Divided into 10 self-contained episodes, the series begins by looking at the practical magic of movies. "The Hollywood Style" and "The Star" examine the underpinnings of filmmaking and star making in carefully chosen examples and contrasts: the changing Hollywood style from Casablanca to Chinatown, the studio-controlled career of Joan Crawford compared to modern star Julia Roberts. Later episodes single out specific genres for study ("Romantic Comedy," "Film Noir," "The Western," and "The Combat Film") and chart the changing face of Hollywood from "The Studio System" to "Film in the Television Age" to "The Film School Generation," concluding with the American independent explosion in "The Edge of Hollywood." A rich array of illustrative film clips and interviews with directors and stars as well as commentary by historians and critics invigorate this whirlwind tour through the dream factory. It's a smartly written project and a solid introduction to American movies that, for all its generality, creates absorbing and entertaining film history. --Sean Axmaker