CFP:Proposed Panel: Hollywood Studio System Film Style(s) of the 1930s

CFP: Proposed Panel SCMS 2018: Hollywood Studio System Film Style(s) of the 1930s

Submission deadline: Aug. 7, 2017

Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson have stated that the mode of film practice within the classical Hollywood cinema “consists of a set of widely held stylistic norms sustained by and sustaining an integral mode of film production.” At no time during the history of the classical Hollywood cinema were the stylistic norms within Hollywood’s mode of film production so varied as during the 1930s. Immediately the visual bravado of Berkeley’s 42nd Street (1932), Sternberg’s The Scarlett Empress (1934) or Ford’s The Informer (1934) spring to mind, but Hollywood film style varied dramatically from the beginning of the decade to its end. Filmmakers experimented with artistic influences, technological developments, and challenged the conventional norms. The 1930s was also the period in which silent-era excess and extravagance gave way to studio signature style and standardization of production. Yet, through all these monumental shifts within the industry, filmmakers were still able to express and explore their stylistic visions.

This panel seeks a variety of papers on Hollywood films style(s) in the 1930s that examine the individual visions, stylistic trends, and industry norms of the decade to illuminate the multiple variations of film style within Hollywood mode of production. Possible topics could include:

  • the unique style of a specific Hollywood film directors from well-known examples —Berkeley, Sternberg, Ford, Lang, Capra—to less studied filmmakers such as Robert Florey, Roland West, or Karl Freund.
  • the influence of external (non-Hollywood) film styles and art movements: German Expressionism, French Avant-garde, the Art Deco movement, or the streamlined machine aesthetic.
  • the establishment of a film studio’s house style: i.e. Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal.
  • the influence of technology on film style: sound, Technicolor, deep focus photography.
  • uniquely stylized experiments: Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight (1932), Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) or William Wyler’s Dead End (1937).
  • the influence of cinematographers and art directors on film style such as Gregg Toland, James Wong Howe, or William Cameron Menzies.
  • the relationship between film style and film genre: the horror film, the musical, or the gangster film
  • the fading or lingering of outmoded silent era film styles juxtaposed against new stylistic norms

Please send 300-word abstract, 200-word biography, and 3-5 citations to Robert Read Ph.D. ( with the subject line “CFP Hollywood Film Style” by August 7, 2017.


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