Allegories of post-Fordism in 1970s New Hollywood: Countercultural combat films, conspiracy thrillers as genre-recycling Drehli Robnik



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works cited
Constance Balides: "Jurassic post-Fordism: tall tales of economics in the theme park", Screen 41, 2, 2000, pp. 139-160
Jeanine Basinger: The World War II Combat Film. Anatomy of a Genre. New York: Columbia UP 1986
Jonathan L. Beller: "Cinema, Capital of the Twentieth Century", Postmodern Culture 4, 3, 1994

web publication: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.594/beller.594


Andrew Britton: "Blissing Out: The Politics of Reaganite Entertainment", movie 31/32, 1986, pp. 1-42
Scott Bukatman: "There´s Always Tomorrowland: Disney and the Hypercinematic Experience", October 57, 1991, pp. 55-78
David A. Cook: "Auteur Cinema and the 'Film Generation' in 1970s Hollywood", in: Jon Lewis (ed.): The New American Cinema. Durham & London: Duke UP 1998, pp. 11-37
Jan Dawson: review of M*A*S*H, Sight and Sound 39, 3, 1970, pp. 161f
Ronald E. Day: "Totality and Representation: A History of Knowledge Management Through European Documentation, Critical Modernity, and Post-Fordism", Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52, 9, 2001, pp. 724-735. web publication: http://www.lisp.wayne.edu/~ai2398/kmasis.htm

 

Gilles Deleuze: The Movement-Image. Cinema 1. [1983] Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P 1986


– " – : "Letter to Serge Daney: Optimism, Pessimism, and Travel" [1986], "Control and Becoming" [1990], "Postscript on Control Societies" [1990], in: Negotiations 1972-1990. [1990], New York: Columbia UP 1995, pp. 68-79, 169-182
Thomas Doherty: Projections of War. Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia UP 1993
Thomas Elsaesser: "The American Cinema: Why Hollywood", monogram 1, 1971, pp. 4-10
– " –: "The Pathos of Failure: American Films in the 70´s. Notes on the Unmotivated Hero", monogram 6, 1975, pp. 13-19 (in this volume)
– " – : "Specularity and engulfment: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker´s Dracula", in: Steve Neale, Murray Smith (eds.): Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. London, New York: Routledge 1998, pp. 191-208
– " – : "Fantasy Island: Dream Logic as Production Logic", in: Thomas Elsaesser, Kay Hoffmann (eds.): Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 1998, pp. 143-158
– " – : "The Blockbuster. Everything Connects, but Not Everything Goes", in: Jon Lewis (ed.): The End of Cinema as we know it. American Film in the Nineties. New York: New York UP 2001, pp. 11-22
Philip French: review of The Dirty Dozen, Sight and Sound 36, 4, 1967, pp. 201f
Ed Guerrero: "Black Violence as Cinema: From Cheap Thrills to Historical Agonies", in: J. David Slocum: Violence and American Cinema. New York, London: Routledge 2001, pp. 211-225
Michael Hammond: "Some Smothering Dreams: The Combat Film in Contemporary Hollywood", in: Steve Neale (ed.): Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. London: British Film Institute 2002, pp. 62-76
Michael Hardt: "Affective labor", Boundary 2, 26(2), 1999, pp. 89-100; web publication: http://www.aleph-arts.org/io_lavoro/textos/Hardt.doc
Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri: Empire. Cambridge, London: Harvard UP 2000
J. Hoberman: "Ten years that shook the world", American Film 10, June 1985, pp. 34-59
Chris Hugo: "Easy Rider and Hollywood in the '70s", Movie 31/32, 1986, pp. 67-71
David E. James: Allegories of Cinema. American Film in the Sixties. Princeton: Princeton UP 1989
Fredric Jameson: "Totality as Conspiracy", in: The Geopolitical Aesthetic. Cinema and Space in the World System. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana UP 1992, pp. 9-84
Pauline Kael: "Blessed Profanity" [1970], "The Man Who Loved War" [1970], in: Deeper into Movies. Boston, Toronto: Little Brown & Co. 1973, pp. 92-102
Peter Kramer: "Post-classical Hollywood", in: John Hill, Pamela Church Gibson (eds.): The Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford: Oxford UP 1998, pp. 289-309
Peter Lloyd: "The American Cinema: An Outlook", monogram 1, 1971, pp. 11-13
Steve Neale: "'New Hollywood Cinema'", Screen 17, 2, 1976, pp. 117-122
Patricia Pisters: "Glamour and Glycerine: Surplus and Residual of the Network Society: from Glamorama to Fight Club", in: Pisters (ed.): Micropolitics of Media Culture. Reading the Rhizomes of Deleuze and Guattari. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 2001, pp. 125-141
Robert B. Ray: A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema 1930-1980. Princeton: Princeton UP 1985
Andy Richards: review of Armageddon, Sight & Sound 9, 1998, pp. 38f
Thomas Schatz: "The New Hollywood", in: Jim Collins, Hilary Radner, Ava Preacher Collins (eds.): Film Theory Goes to the Movies. New York, London: Routledge 1993, pp. 8-36
Paul Smith: Clint Eastwood. A Cultural Production. London: University College Press 1993
Murray Smith: "Theses on the philosophy of Hollywood history", in: Steve Neale, Murray Smith (eds.): Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. London, New York: Routledge 1998, pp. 3-20
Janet Staiger: "The package-unit system: unit management after 1955", in: David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, Kristin Thompson: The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York 1985, pp. 330-337
David Wilson: review of Patton – Lust for Glory, Sight and Sound 39, 3, 1970, pp. 160f
Peter Wollen: "Theme Park and Variations", Sight and Sound 7, 1993, pp. 7-10


1 Peter Lloyd: "The American Cinema: An Outlook", monogram 1, 1971, p. 12

2 Thomas Elsaesser: "The American Cinema: Why Hollywood", monogram 1, 1971, p. 9f

3 Thomas Elsaesser: "The Pathos of Failure", monogram 6, 1975, (p.15) in this volume p. ?

4 Chris Hugo: "Easy Rider and Hollywood in the '70s", Movie 31/32, 1986, p. 67, 69, 71

5 Gilles Deleuze: The Movement-Image. Cinema 1. [1983] Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P 1986, pp. 167f, 207-210

6 Elsaesser: "The Pathos of Failure" (p. 17f), in this volume p. ?

7 Steve Neale: "'New Hollywood Cinema'", Screen 17, 2, 1976, p. 119

8 On historical usages and different meanings of the terms "New Hollywood" and "post-classical Hollywood" see Peter Kramer: "Post-classical Hollywood", in: John Hill, Pamela Church Gibson (eds.): The Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford: Oxford UP 1998

9 Hugo: "Easy Rider and Hollywood in the '70s", p. 71

10 Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri: Empire. Cambridge, London: Harvard UP 2000, pp. 274f

11 My rather loose usage of this latter term aims to interpret film-industrial practices and images at a historical conjuncture when, in the West, youth-culture and counter-culture are congruent to a higher degree than ever before or since. Regrettably, my approach here does not take feminist and African-American struggles within this counter-cultural context into account.

12 Jonathan L. Beller: "Cinema, Capital of the Twentieth Century", Postmodern Culture 4, 3, 1994;

web publication: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.594/beller.594, paragraphs 10, 7, 59



13 cf Hardt, Negri: Empire, pp. 275, 402

14 Beller: "Cinema, Capital of the Twentieth Century", paragraph 6

15 Pauline Kael: "Blessed Profanity" [1970], in: Deeper into Movies. Boston, Toronto: Little Brown & Co. 1973, pp. 93, 95

16 Ibid., p. 94

17 Jan Dawson: review of M*A*S*H, Sight and Sound 39, 3, 1970, p. 161

18 Jeanine Basinger: The World War II Combat Film. Anatomy of a Genre. New York: Columbia UP 1986, pp. 202f

19 Ibid., pp. 205ff, 201

20 Philip French: review of The Dirty Dozen, Sight and Sound 36, 4, 1967, p. 201

21 Ibid.

22 Thus, one can see the film´s self-positioning as a war movie-novelty – opening up an old genre to young audiences – as being allegorically reflected in its narrative stressing of innovation and inventiveness.

23 Interestingly, among the few non-road movies to which Elsaesser referred in his "Pathos of Failure" essay is another Robert Aldrich film, The Mean Machine a.k.a. The Longest Yard (1974), with a prison plot focusing on the Burt Reynolds hero "turning anti-social convicts into loyal team-mates" at football. Elsaesser´s remarks on this film ("The Pathos of Failure", p. 16, in this volume p. ?) emphasize its narrative disintegration and cognitive unreliability, exposing its "motivational predicament: if characters have no moral history that can plausibly explain their behaviour, action is the spectacle of gratuitousness." Generally, the frequency (and obtrusiveness) of narratives of male bonding in Aldrich´s work might be of interest to a more auteurist approach.

24 cf Hardt, Negri: Empire, pp. 273-276, 290-292; see also Michael Hardt: "Affective labor", Boundary 2, 26(2), 1999, pp. 89-100; web publication: http://www.aleph-arts.org/io_lavoro/textos/Hardt.doc, and Ronald E. Day: "Totality and Representation: A History of Knowledge Management Through European Documentation, Critical Modernity, and Post-Fordism", Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52, 9, 2001, pp. 724-735. web publication: http://www.lisp.wayne.edu/~ai2398/kmasis.htm. It should be noted that while my approach to the pragmatics of some combat movies of New Hollywood circa 1970 stresses the notion of teamwork, Hardt´s and Negri´s analysis of today´s "digital capitalism" gives much more prominence to the concept of network production.

25 Latin-folk pop singer Trini Lopez played a minor character among the Dirty Dozen; admittedly, he was not a prototypical rebel-idol of late 1960s youth culture.

26 Ed Guerrero: "Black Violence as Cinema: From Cheap Thrills to Historical Agonies", in: J. David Slocum: Violence and American Cinema. New York, London: Routledge 2001, pp. 213f

27 French: review of The Dirty Dozen, p. 201

28 Kael: "The Man Who Loved War" [1970], in: Deeper into Movies, p. 99; David Wilson: review of Patton – Lust for Glory, Sight and Sound 39, 3, 1970, p.160

29 Lloyd: "The American Cinema: An Outlook", p. 12

30 Robert B. Ray: A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema 1930-1980. Princeton: Princeton UP 1985, pp. 314f

31 Of course, there are New Hollywood war movies contemporary to Kelly´s Heroes which strongly emphasize a notion of the insanity of war; one could mention the crumbling of action-trajectories and the Easy Rider-style editing of Sidney Pollack´s World War II combat film Castle Keep (1969), or Mike Nichols´ Catch-22 (1970), a rather dark and nihilistic World War II military satire in the wake of M*A*S*H´s success.

32 Basinger: The World War II Combat Film, pp. 203f; Thomas Doherty: Projections of War. Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia UP 1993, p. 296. Interestingly, the focus on the violence of the actions in The Dirty Dozen – rather than on their cooperative and productive aspects – seems to allow for a smooth integration of Aldrich´s film within the established canon of New Hollywood classics. As Michael Hammond writes: "The Robert Aldrich film is notable for its violence and brutality at the moment when the new rating system replaced the old Production Code. The film acts as an important precursor to Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and later The Wild Bunch, of the new, violent tone the new system would foster." Michael Hammond: "Some Smothering Dreams: The Combat Film in Contemporary Hollywood", in: Steve Neale (ed.): Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. London: British Film Institute 2002, p. 64

33 cf Deleuze: The Movement-Image, pp. 144, 148

34 Ibid., pp. 164ff

35 On disciplined co-operation and functionalism in wartime combat movies, especially in Air Force, see Doherty: Projections of War, pp.103ff, 110ff

36 This also goes for the historical greatness of military missions celebrated in several all-star war epics from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s.

37 Hardt, Negri: Empire, p. 385

38 Ibid., p. 273, 275

39 David E. James: Allegories of Cinema. American Film in the Sixties. Princeton: Princeton UP 1989, p. 14f

40 Ibid., p. 17

41 Janet Staiger: "The package-unit system: unit management after 1955", in: David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, Kristin Thompson: The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York 1985

42 The complete detachment of a professional subculture of treasure-hunters from the system´s overall effort in Kelly´s Heroes – "We´re just a private enterprise operation", as Eastwood explains his unit´s mission – is interpreted as an allegory of independent film production by Paul Smith. The author points to Clint Eastwood´s increased reliance on his Malpaso company (founded in 1968) after his dissatisfaction with a major studio´s production of Kelly´s Heroes, a film "whose central contradiction is that its servicemen do not actually serve, even though they are heroic entrepreneurs". Paul Smith: Clint Eastwood. A Cultural Production. London: University College Press 1993, p. 198

43 Murray Smith: "Theses on the philosophy of Hollywood history", in: Steve Neale, Murray Smith (eds.): Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. London, New York: Routledge 1998, p. 14

44 Ibid., p. 11. Along with Janet Staiger, Murray Smith would probably object to a conceptual connection of classical Hollywood´s production logic with Fordist discipline. However, Staiger´s remark that "[m]aking a film [in the classical studio system, D.R.] was not working on a Ford moving assembly-line" (in: "The package-unit system: unit management after 1955", p. 336), and Smith´s points on classical Hollywood´s ""'non-Fordist' peculiarities" (in: "Theses on the philosophy of Hollywood history", p. 8) do, in my view, not radically invalidate that comparison.

45 Thomas Schatz: "The New Hollywood", in: Jim Collins, Hilary Radner, Ava Preacher Collins (eds.): Film Theory Goes to the Movies. New York, London: Routledge 1993, pp. 9ff

46 Ibid., p. 15

47 J. Hoberman: "Ten years that shook the world", American Film 10, June 1985, p. 34

48 David A. Cook: "Auteur Cinema and the 'Film Generation' in 1970s Hollywood", in: Jon Lewis (ed.): The New American Cinema. Durham & London: Duke UP 1998, p. 35

49 Andrew Britton: "Blissing Out: The Politics of Reaganite Entertainment", movie 31/32, 1986, p. 2

50 Smith: "Theses on the philosophy of Hollywood history", p. 10. In "The Pathos of Failure" (p. 14; in this volume), Elsaesser suggested a Hollywood landscape divided between the emotional involvement and spectacle offered by cop thrillers and disaster movies on one hand, and "emotional anti-stances" catered for by road movies with rebel heroes on the other.

51 The Last Movie was a commercially unsuccesful, self-reflexive road-movie essay on Hollywood film-making, directed by Dennis Hopper in 1971 in the wake of Easy Rider´s success.

52 Fredric Jameson: "Totality as Conspiracy", in: The Geopolitical Aesthetic. Cinema and Space in the World System. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana UP 1992, pp. 15, 82

53 Hardt, Negri: Empire, pp. 23f

54 Ibid., p. 386; on real subsumption see also Ibid., pp. 255, 272

55 Deleuze: The Movement-Image, p. 210

56 In a closer look at the amusement park as an allegorical location in mid-1970s "uneasy" Hollywood, one would encounter Rollercoaster (1975), a hybrid of disaster film and cop thriller, set in various amusement parks. As a companion film to Westworld´s and Futureworld´s horror of Hollywood genres cybernetically revived as virtual realities, one could mention Welcome to Blood City (1976): this British-Canadian co-production stars Jack Palance and 2001´s Keir Dullea in an artificial Wild West environment remote-controlled for training purposes by a conspiratory secret service.

57 Britton: "Blissing Out", p. 5

58 Deleuze: The Movement-Image, p. 211

59 Crichton contributed the novel and screenplay to Jurassic Park and the novel to The Lost World – Jurassic Park; Jurassic Park III uses characters created by Crichton. From an auteurist point of view, one could highlight this writer-director´s ongoing fascination with technologically controlled, isolated spaces and with "imitations of life" – from his novel filmed as The Andromeda Strain (1971), through his SciFi thriller Looker (1981) to the TV series ER he created in 1994.

60 Peter Wollen: "Theme Park and Variations", Sight and Sound 7, 1993, p. 8

61 Observations on the relations between cinematic and theme park temporalities and experiential modes can be found for instance in Scott Bukatman "There's Always Tomorrowland: Disney and the Hypercinematic Experience ", October, no.57, Summer 1991, and (with regard to Jurassic Park in the light of post-Fordist production and consumption) in Constance Balides: "Jurassic post-Fordism: tall tales of economics in the theme park", Screen 41, 2, 2000.

62 Schatz: "The New Hollywood", pp. 31, 29

63 "Something has survived!" was a promotional slogan of the second Jurassic Park film, entitled The Lost World.

64 Wollen: "Theme Park and Variations", p. 7

65 see Elsaesser: "Specularity and engulfment: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker´s Dracula", in: Steve Neale, Murray Smith (eds.): Contemporary Hollywood Cinema, p. 199, and "The Blockbuster. Everything Connects, but Not Everything Goes", in: Jon Lewis (ed.): The End of Cinema as we know it. American Film in the Nineties. New York: New York UP 2001, p. 21f

66 Wollen: "Theme Park and Variations", p. 8; Elsaesser: "Specularity and engulfment", pp. 197f

67 Elsaesser: "Fantasy Island: Dream Logic as Production Logic", in: Thomas Elsaesser, Kay Hoffmann (eds.): Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 1998, pp. 154f

68 see Hardt, Negri: Empire, pp. 268ff, 318, 331

69 Deleuze: "Postscript on Control Societies" [1990], in: Negotiations 1972-1990. [1990], New York: Columbia UP 1995, pp. 178f. On control societies in Deleuze, see also his conversation with Negri, "Control and Becoming" [1990], also in the Negotiations volume.

70 Deleuze: The Movement-Image, p. 24. Deleuze derives his distinction between photographic mold and cinematographic modulation from André Bazin.

71 Deleuze: "Letter to Serge Daney: Optimism, Pessimism, and Travel" [1986], in: Negotiations 1972-1990, p. 76

72 Patricia Pisters: "Glamour and Glycerine: Surplus and Residual of the Network Society: from Glamorama to Fight Club", in: Pisters (ed.): Micropolitics of Media Culture. Reading the Rhizomes of Deleuze and Guattari. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 2001, p.140

73 Deleuze: "Postscript on Control Societies", p. 179

74 see Elsaesser: "The Blockbuster", p. 21f

75 For instance in Andy Richards´ review in Sight & Sound 9, 1998, p. 39.

76 Elsaesser: "The American Cinema: Why Hollywood", p. 10

77 see for instance the German website http://www.germancoaster.de/ features-2002-03-warnerpressekonferenz.html
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