Motion pictures are made by various specialists in numerous crafts, including screen-writing, directing, producing, acting, cinematography, lighting, production design, sound recording, sound mixing, editing, and production management. And though making feature-length films is a collaborative effort, just how this collaboration works is usually ignored or glossed over in thinking and writing about what movies are and where they come from. In A History of American Movies: A Film-by-Film Look at the Art, Craft, and Business of Cinema, Paul Monaco provides a survey of narrative feature films from the 1920s to the present. The book focuses on 170 of the most highly regarded and recognized films selected by the Hollywood establishment; each Oscar winner for Best Picture, as well as those voted the greatest by members of the American Film Institute.
By concentrating on a select group of films, Monaco provides an essential history of one of the modern world's most complex and successful cultural institutions---Hollywood. Divided into three parts ("Classic Hollywood, 1927-1948," "Hollywood in Transition, 1949-1974," and "New Hollywood, 1975-2009"), A History of American Movies examines some of the most memorable works in cinematic history, including The General, Wings, Bringing Up Baby, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, The Searchers, Psycho, West Side Story, The Godfather, Cabaret, Raging Bull, Rain Man, Toy Story, and Saving Private Ryan.
This is the only book that thoroughly treats Hollywood---and its most significant movies---simultaneously as an art, a craft, and a business. Monaco's approach provides unique insight into the workings of one of the most accomplished and successful art forms---the Hollywood feature film.
Paul Monaco is professor of Cinema/Video at Montana State University. He is the author of Understanding Society, Culture, and Television (2000) and The Sixties: 1960-1969 volume in The History of American Cinema Series (2003).
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