Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s provocative documentary looks with fresh eyes at “Red” Hollywood—films by screenwriters and directors who were communists, ex-communists, or sympathizers and who were in some way implicated by the Hollywood investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Drawing on their extensive research and an array of arresting film clips, as well as on the reminiscences of blacklisted artists Paul Jarrico, Ring Lardner, Jr., Alfred Levitt, and Abraham Polonsky, the video reveals the degree to which the Hollywood left was able to tint movies with its political convictions. Taking issue with Billy Wilder’s oft-quoted put-down, “Of the Unfriendly Ten, only two had talent, the other eight were just unfriendly,” Red Hollywood reveals a largely neglected Hollywood legacy: films committed to raising questions regarding class, gender, and racism. Films that questioned the System itself—whether capitalism or the studio—and were answered with the blacklist. —Pacific Film Archive
Thom Andersen (born 1943, Chicago) is a filmmaker, film critic, and teacher. He currently teaches film theory and history at the California Institute of the Arts, and has previously taught at the SUNY Buffalo and Ohio State University. In the early 60’s, he studied film at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He has also been the programmer for LA Filmforum in Los Angeles during the late 90’s. His more recent work, including Los Angeles Plays Itself, has taken its cues from Formalism. Los Angeles Plays Itself won the National Film Board Award for Best Documentary at the 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival. —Wikipedia
Photograph by Suzanne Mejean
Noël Burch (born 1932) is an American, who moved to France at a young age. He later became a film critic famous for his contribution of commonly used terms by film scholars (such as Institutional Mode of Representation (IMR)) and for his theories compiled in books such as Theory of Film Practice or La lucarne de L’Infini.
Burch’s major contribution to the history of film criticism isn’t his definition of classical Hollywood film tropes, which had already been done, but rather his focus on early cinema. There, he identified a set of film styles that he would identify as the “Primitive Mode of Representation (PMR).” In doing so, he found what he thought was a “purer” cinema, one untainted by what he considered bourgeois ideology.
Whether his ideology informed his understanding of film style, or vice versa, his Theory Of Film Practice is one of the key works in the canon of Western film criticism.
In the foreword to the 1980 edition of Theory Of Film Practice, Burch… read more