War and Peace (1956): Vidor’s Ambitious Effort at Intimate Epic, starring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Gonda

King Vidor’s screen version of Tolstoy’s famous and novel is an ambitious epic, more commendable for its intent than for its execution. The half a dozen scripters too considerable freedom with the original and overwhelming text, instead centering on a romantic triangle. In recreating the social and personal upheavals around Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia, a budget […]

Indie Cinema: Distributors–Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight scored big with Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” which warned Best Picture nomination and was a huge commercial success. Searchlight exec Nancy Utley built a relationship with Reitman the year before at the Toronto Film Fest, where it picked up his first film, “Thanks You for Smoking.” When it came to “Juno,” Searchlight goy involved […]

Movie Stars: Promoters of Ideoloy and Real Politics

The screen elite differs from other elites in its access to and use of political power.  Because of their nature of work (actual role-playing) and the immense media coverage of their lives, on and offscreen, movie stars have the potential of functioning as a strategic rather than segmental elite, to borrow Keller’s distinction. Strategic Vs. […]

Movie Stars: How Powerful Are Stars in Hollywood?

It is important to assess the bargaining power of stars within Hollywood, over film projects, salaries, casting, etc.  Film stars owning their production companies (Redford, Eastwood, Hanks, DiCaprio) thus exercising a greater control over their careers, has been a relatively recent phenomenon.  What are the implications of this trend for the kinds and quality of […]

Movie Stars: The Role’s the Thing? Social Determinants of Movie Stardom.

There are diverse, controversial views about the crucial determinants for achieving stardom because the issue has not been studied systematically. I propose to distinguish analytically among four attributes: physical appearance, youth, acting talent, and screen image. Is it possible to characterize America’s movie stars in terms of physical looks?  How important are attractive looks for […]