The Art of American Screen Acting, 1912–1960


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About the Book

Some people claim that audiences go to the movies for the genre. Others say they go for the director. But most really go to see their favorite actors and actresses. This book explores the work of many of classic Hollywood’s influential stars, such as James Cagney, Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.
These so-called “pre–Brando” entertainers, often dismissed as old fashioned, were part of an explosion of talent that ran from the late 1920s through the early 1950s. The author analyzes their compelling styles and their ability to capture audiences.

About the Author(s)

Dan Callahan has written about film for Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Nylon, and many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Dan Callahan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 242
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7405-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3252-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: “Pre-Brando” and Bernhardt and Duse 1
Lillian Gish: Blossom in the Wind 5
Gloria Swanson: Still Big 21
John Barrymore: Sweet Prince of Irony 29
Louise Brooks: Naked on Her Goat 35
Greta Garbo: Mademoiselle Hamlet 46
Marlene Dietrich: Illusions 58
Bette Davis: The Hard Way 76
Katharine Hepburn: Sadly Happy 93
Joan Crawford: A Woman’s Face 112
Ingrid Bergman: You Must Change Your Life 127
James Cagney: Hard to Handle 137
Cary Grant: Just a Butterfly 144
Charles Laughton: Leaning and Birthing 157
Clark Gable: The King 170
Spencer Tracy: Still Waters 176
Humphrey Bogart: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of 184
Marlon Brando: Before and After 192
Montgomery Clift: Fallen Aristocrat 199
Kim Stanley: Private Moments 208
James Dean: Cause and Effect 215
Bibliography 223
Index 225