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Performing Arts Individual Director

The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz

edited by R. Barton Palmer & Murray Pomerance

University of Texas Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2018
Individual Director, History & Criticism
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2018
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2018
    List Price

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Director Michael Curtiz was the mastermind behind some of the most iconic films of classical Hollywood—Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Sea Hawk, White Christmas, and Mildred Pierce, to name only a few. The most prolific and consistently successful Hollywood generalist with an all-embracing interest in different forms of narrative and spectacle, Curtiz made around a hundred films in an astonishing range of genres: action, biopics, melodramas/film noir, musicals, and westerns. But his important contributions to the history of American film have been overlooked because his broadly varied oeuvre does not present the unified vision of filmmaking that canonical criticism demands for the category of “auteur.”

Exploring his films and artistic practice from a variety of angles, including politics, gender, and genre, The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz sheds new light on this underappreciated cinematic genius. Leading film studies scholars offer fresh appraisals of many of Curtiz’s most popular films, while also paying attention to neglected releases of substantial historical interest, such as Noah’s Ark , Night and Day, Virginia City, Black Fury, Mystery of the Wax Museum, and Female. Because Curtiz worked for so long and in so many genres, this analysis of his work becomes more than an author study of a notable director. Instead, The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz effectively adds a major chapter to the history of Hollywood’s studio era, including its internationalism and the significant contributions of European émigrés.

About the authors

R. Barton Palmer is Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature emeritus at Clemson University, where he is the founding director of the World Cinema program. Palmer is the author or editor of more than fifty books on different subjects. He is also the editor of the South Atlantic Review, the Tennessee Williams Annual Review, and, soon, with Constantine Verevis, of World Cinema Traditions (Edinburgh UP). His latest film books are: (with Murray Pomerance), The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz (Texas UP) and (with Homer Pettey) French Literature on Screen (Manchester UP).

R. Barton Palmer's profile page

Murray Pomerance's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz goes a long way to explaining and clarifying how and why the uncanny medium of cinema makes it a fair claim that filmmakers such as Michael Curtiz were actually painters with light and sound. It's just that their paintings spoke and moved like living things, because that's what they were: darkly shining reflections from behind the mirror.

Critics at Large

2018 brings an aptly titled essay collection, The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz. . . Perhaps pointedly, none of the essayists focus on Casablanca (1942). Instead, The Many Cinemas examine genres Curtiz worked in, his handling of political messages and his relations with actors.

Shepherd Express

The twenty essays here amply demonstrate how rich and productive readings of a director's work can be when due attention is paid to easing out the complex webs of collaboration, studio/commercial pressures, external factors (such as censorship), and cultural discourse that contribute to the shaping of film content and reception.

Western Historical Quarterly

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