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August 1994


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Patrick B Bjork <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Aug 1994 13:42:56 -0500
text/plain (42 lines)
I think Julie's final question here appears esp. pertinent to the
"dumbing down" discussion.
Patrick [log in to unmask]
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 1994 13:23:07 -0500
From: Steven Mintz, U. Houston <[log in to unmask]>
To: Multiple recipients of list H-FILM <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Audience manipulation in recent film
From:    Julie Jenkins                        <[log in to unmask]>
To Mary Smith, it was the gangsters--segueing to the gangster studio.  But
upon reflection, I stand by my original flip association.  No matter the role,
Hoffman projects a febrile intensity that, of course, shades into whining when
it becomes self-parody.  It's the same nervous intensity we associate w/Warners
stars.  And I can't agree w/you that the three films you cite are such a
stretch, 2 comedies of manners and a fantasy Western.  Hoffman is a star be-
cause he has an instantly recognizable persona that transcends any role he
plays.  That's why his Dutch Schulz is such a contradiction in terms.  About
15-20 years separate the 2 comedies you cite, I think if you went back to a
studio noted for a given genre and compared two films of that genre that were
made 20 years apart you would see a similar stretch.  A studio that lasted
modified its product to suit changing audience taste and the times.
And if you compare product made by a given studio in short period of time, es-
pecially Warners, you see quite a stretch.  This is the studio that's producing
High Sierra, The Little Foxes, and Casablanca w/in 3 years.  I don't think
that the 2 late 60s films you cite are any more dissimilar than these three.
Films are so drenched in the period of their production that that quality of
when and where they were made almost seems to transcend everything else.
I also don't think that producers were less greedy then.  More organized, yes.
And w/many more means of insuring that profit went directly to the studio.
And I really don't think that studios can "train audiences."  Would that it
were so!  The dream of every studio head: if we could only get them to want
what we want them to want!  The MPPC was sure that audiences could be made
but they were mistaken.  I really think audiences are born and the real ques-
tion, is why do people like what they like?