American Cinema

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I’m a cinema goer. And also I like watching films on TV or video. But I think, that watching a good film is the best relaxation. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. Now a growing number of people prefer watching films on TV to attending cinemas. There are wonderful comedies, love stories, science fiction, horror films, detective stories, and historical films on. There’s a variety of films available today. It is difficult to live without cinema. One fact is clear for everyone: cinema makes our life better. Cinema helps us to forget different problems. When people watch films, they have a rest. Some films take people into another world. I think it is a pure world, where usual problems do not even exist.

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American Cinema

Report made by Bragina Kate, Class 10-4

Minicap Educational Establishment

Secondary School N0 1 with Thorough Learning of Foreign Languages

Central District, Chelyabinsk

Foreign Language Department



I’m a cinema goer. And also I like watching films on TV or video. But I think, that watching a good film is the best relaxation. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. Now a growing number of people prefer watching films on TV to attending cinemas. There are wonderful comedies, love stories, science fiction, horror films, detective stories, and historical films on. There’s a variety of films available today. It is difficult to live without cinema. One fact is clear for everyone: cinema makes our life better. Cinema helps us to forget different problems. When people watch films, they have a rest. Some films take people into another world. I think it is a pure world, where usual problems do not even exist. Cinema is a great power, it helps us to understand our complex well. Cinema can leave nobody indifferent. It is so powerful that it provokes complex feelings. We meet a lot of people. Everyone has his own opinion about something and like most of us I have my own opinion too, for example, about cinema. Cinema is a necessary and important part of my life. It is my essence, my mode of life and my happiness. Cinema helps me to cope with difficulties and with incorrigible problems. So that’s why I have chosen the topic ‘Cinema’.

American Cinema

The world of American cinema is so far-reaching a topic that it deserves, and often receives, volumes of its own. Hollywood (in Los Angeles, California), of course, immediately comes to mind, as do the many great directors, actors and actresses it continues to attract and produce. But then, one also thinks of the many independent studios throughout the country, the educational and documentary series and films, the socially-relevant tradition in cinema, and the film departments of universities, such as the University of Southern California (USC), the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) or New York University.

For over 50 years, American films have continued to grow in popularity throughout the world. Television has only increased this popularity.

The great blockbusters of film entertainment that stretch from "Gone with the Wind" to "Star Wars" receive the most attention. A look at the prizes awarded at the leading international film festivals will also demonstrate that as an art form, the American film continues to enjoy-considerable prestige. Even when the theme is serious or, as they say, "meaningful", American films remain "popular". In the past decade, films which treated the danger of nuclear power and weapons, alcoholism, divorce, inner-city blight, .the effects of slavery, the plight of Native Americans, poverty and immigration have all received awards and international recognition. And, at the same time, they have done well at the box-office.

Movies (films), including those on video-cassettes, remain the most popular art form in the USA. A book with 20,000 readers is considered to be a best-seller. A hit play may be seen by a few thousand theatergoers. By contrast, about a billion movie tickets are sold at movie houses across the USA every year.

There are three main varieties of movie theaters in the USA: 1) the "first-run" movie houses, which show new films; 2) "art theaters", which specialize in showing foreign films and revivals; 3) "neighborhood theaters", which run films — sometimes two at a time — after the "first-run" houses.

New York is a movie theater capital of the country. Many of the city's famous large movie theaters, once giving Times Square so much of its glitter, have been torn down or converted (in some cases into smaller theaters), and a new generation of modem theaters has appeared to the north and east of the area. Most of them offer continuous performances from around noon till midnight. Less crowded and less expensive are the so-called "neighborhood theaters", which show films several weeks or months after the "first-run" theaters. There are several theaters that specialize in revivals of famous old films and others that show only modernist, avant-garde films. Still others, especially those along 42nd Street, between the Avenue of Americas and Eighth Avenue, run movies about sex and violence. Foreign films, especially those of British, French, Italian and Swedish origin, are often seen in New York, and several movie theaters specialize in the showing of foreign-language films for the various ethnic groups in the city.

The earliest history of film.

The illusion of movement was first noted in the early 19th century. In 1824 the English physician Peter Mark Roget published an article ‘the persistence of vision with regard to moving objects’. Many inventors put his theory to the test with pictures posted on coins that were flipped by the thumb, and with rotating disks of drawings. A particular favorite was the zoetrope, slotted revolving drum through which could be seen clowns and animals that seemed to leap. They were hand drawn on strips of paper fitted inside the drum. Other similar devices were the hemitrope, the phasmatrope, the phenakistoscope, and the praxinoscope. It is not possible to give any one person credit for having invented the motion picture. In the 1880s the Frenchman Etienne Jules Marey developed the rotating shutter with a slot to admit light, and George Eastman, of New York, developed flexible film. In 1888 Thomas Edison, of New Jersey, his phonograph for recording and playing sound on wax cylinders. He tried to combine sound with motion pictures. Edison’s assistant, William Dickson, worked on the idea, and in 1889, he both appeared and spoke in a film. Edison did not turn his attention to the projected motion picture at first. The results were still not good enough, and Edison did not think that films would not have large appeal. Instead he produced and patented the kinetoscope, which ran a continuous loop of film about 15 meters (50 feet) long. Only one person could view it at a time. By 1894, hand-cranked kinetoscope appeared all over the United States and Europe. Edison demonstrated a projecting kinetoscope. The cinematograph based on Edison’s kinetoscope was invented by two Frenchmen, Louis and Auguste Lumiere. This machine consisted of a portable camera and a projector. In December 1895, The Lumiere brothers organized a program of short motion pictures at a Parisian cafe.

The earliest movie theatres.

Films were first thought of as experiment or toys. They were shown in scientific laboratories and in the drawing rooms of private home. When their commercial potential was realized they began to be screened in public to a paying audience. The first films to be shown publicly were short, filmed news items and travelogues. These were screened alongside live variety acts form theatre shows, called vaudeville in United States. Within a few years fairground tents that slowed nothing but programs of films were common sights. In United States stores were converted onto movie theatre, which were known as ‘storefront theatre’. People would pay a nickel to see about an hour’s worth of film, so the theatre came to be known as ‘nickelodeons’. Early film audiences needed patience. There were many technical problems. Projectors were likely to breath down and every projectionist kept slides to reassure the audience: ‘The performance will resume shortly.’ Many projectors caused flickering on the screen, earning films the nickname of ‘the flicks’.

The growth of the film industry.

From the start the film industry was eager to make and show films that people would want to see. The most popular films were those that told stories- narrative fiction films. Film making began to realize that by using different camera angels, locations, lighting and special effects, film could tell a story in the way that live theatre couldn’t.

The great Train Robbery, made in 1903 by Edwin S. Porter, was the first American narrative fiction film. It included the basic ingredients of the Western: a hold-up, a chase, and a gunfight. It used a great variety of shots by showing the action at different distances from the camera- long shots of action in the distance, but also medium shots of the actors shown full-length, and chase-ups of the face and shoulders of a gunman shooting directly at the audience.

Before World War I American film industry had logged behind the film industries of Europe particularly those of France and Italy. But during the war, film making almost stopped in Europe, partly because a chemical used in celluloid was needed for making gunpowder. The American film industry thrived during the war because there was money for making films; and also because of popular the genius of D. W. Griffith. In 1915 Griffith made The Birth Of Nation, a film about the American Civil War and in 1916 he made Intolerance. These three hour’s films were American’s answer to the spectacular Italian films such as Quo Vadis that had earlier astonished the world. For Intolerance Griffith had built a set of an ancient Babylonian city, which was over a mile long, and he photograph it from a balloon. Griffith was a genius, not just because he could show huge and thrilling scenes on the screen, but because he was aware of the artistic possibilities of film.

The actors in the old-sealers had mostly been unknown and their performances very poor. Because the films were silent, actors made up for lack of speech by frantic and unnatural gestures and movements. A new and better style of acting was adopted by a young American actress called Marry Pickford who showed that a simple natural style was more effective on the screen than dramatic arm-waving and chest-thumping. Her fame spread across the Atlantic. In 1918, she signed a contract for more than a million dollars. The stars system was born.

About the same time, some of the slapstick comedians developed unique comedy styles, and also became world-famous stars. Charlie Chaplin, the little man with the derby hat, cane, and boggy pants, became the most famous (he, too, sealed a million-dollar contract). But others such as Buster Heaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon were also widely acclaimed. They were great artists whose work is still popular today. By 1920 the cinema had became the most popular form of leisure activity outside the home.

Film studios such as Metro-Goldwin Meyer, Paramount, Warner’s, 20th Century Fox, and United Artists developed a system for producing films on the same principle that Henry Ford used for his cars- the assembly like Hollywood, on the west coast of the United States, became the center of the film industry. Its climate, light and physical surroundings were suited to the film industry, which shot much material out of doors. Film making thrived. In succeeding years, many great films were made in Hollywood, beginning with the silent films, followed, in the mid-twenties, by the first sound pictures.

The first animated cartoon drawn in the United States especially for film was done in 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton. The first full-length animated feature film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made in 1937.

The stars of the films being produced in Hollywood became known throughout the world. Among them were famous Cagney, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, who had first appeared in films in Germany, the Swedish Greta Garbo and the young Shirley Temple. Some of the most famous stars were Mickey Mouse and characters from Walt Disney’s cartoon. Leading film makers included John Ford, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra and George Cukor.

During World War II some of the best Americans directors in the US were recruited by the War Department, because films were needed to help raise the morale of servicemen. Among the best films of this war period were Frank Capra’s ''Why We Fight'' series (1942-45). Walt Disney’s animated films; and documentaries about important battlers directed by Garson Kanin, John Huston, Billy Wilder. Orson Welles’s masterpiece ''Citizen Kane'' (1940) was the story of a newspaper tycoon. After the war high-quality films continued to pour out of the United States. They included Charlie Chaplin’s ''Limelight'' (1952), the fine Western Shane (1956), a drama of the New York docks called On The Waterfront (1954) and many high-spirited musicals of which An American In Paris (1951) was outstanding. Alfred Hitchcock made his best films during this period. ''Psycho'' with its famous murder-in-the-shower scene was probably the most successful. Despite these successes the great studios began to get into financial difficulties because of declining audiences.

However, the late 1960s saw a turning point in the American film industry with the release of a number of films appealing to the youth market, which drew enormous audiences. The most famous of these were Arthur Penn’s ''Bonnie and Clyde'' (1967) and Dennis Hopper’s ''Easy Rider'' (1969). Realising that they could no longer rely on their traditional family audiences, film makers increasingly concentrated on films for the so-called ‘teenage market’, science fiction and fantasy ‘blockbusters’ with computer enhanced special effects Dolby sound such as George Lucas’s ''Star Wars'' (1977) and Steven Spielberg’s ''Raiders Of The Lost Ark'' (1981) became very popular.


Today Americans still continue the custom of eating popcorn at the movies. Americans use 500,000 pounds of popcorn every year. All corn does not pop. A seed or kernel of corn must have 14 percent water in it to pop. Other kinds of pop have less water and do not pop. When you put a kernel of corn on a fire, the water inside makes the corn explode. This makes a ‘pop’ noise. That is why we called it popcorn. The American Indians popped corn a long time ago. The Indians knew there were three kinds of corn. There was sweet corn for eating, corn for animals, and corn for popping. The Indians introduced corn to the first settlers, or Pilgrims, when they come to America in 1620. One year after they came, the Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving dinner. They invited the Indians. The Indians brought food with them. One Indian brought popcorn. Since that time Americans continued to pop corn at home. But in 1945 there was a new machine that changed the history of popcorn. This electric machine popped corn outside the home. Soon movie theatres started to sell popcorn to make more money. Popcorn at the movies became more and more popular. Many people like to put salt and melted butter on their popcorn. Some people eat it without salt or butter. Either way - Americans love their popcorn!

The Oscar.

The Oscars are awarded every year by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. These statuettes are awarded to actors, film directors, screenwriters and so on for outstanding contributions to the film industry. The Oscars were first awarded in 1927. The first winners were chosen by five judges. Nowadays all of the members of the Academy vote. The ceremony is attended by most Hollywood stars, although some famous stars, such as Woody Allen, refuse to go, even if they win an award. The oldest winner of an Oscar was 80-year- old Jessica Tandy for her performance in the film “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1990. The youngest was Shirley Temple when she was only five years old. The statuette is of soldier standing on a reel of film. Nobody is really sure why it is called an Oscar, although some people say that it is because when the first statuette was made, a secretary said, “It reminds me of Uncle Oscar!”


When people think about of Hollywood, they probably think of film stars like Marilyn Monroe, Gary Grant and James Dean. Hollywood is the center of the international movie industry and American movies are distributed all over the world. They are made in English but often dubbed into other languages. In some countries 90 percent of the movies that people see are US production. Sometimes, a film is not very popular with Americans, but people in other countries like it. The first films were made in Hollywood in 1911. Between 1930-1945, the five largest Hollywood’s studios produced most of the movies and owned most of the movie theatres in the United States. Making films is expensive. On the average, it costs 36 million dollars to produce a movie. Some of this goes to pay the salary of well-known movie stars and large sums can be spent on special effects like computer-generated imagery (CGI). Marketing the movie to the public may cost another 17 million dollars or more. To cover these costs film companies receive money for movie theatre tickets and the sale or rental of videos. They also sell CDs of the soundtrack and toys, books, or clothes associated with the movie. Indeed, there was a time when Hollywood was the most famous place in the USA, if not the world.

The Hollywood story begins at the end of the last century.

1887. A man called Harvey Wilcox bought a large ranch in a district north-west of Los Angeles in California. His wife called the land ‘Hollywood’.

1902-04. The first cinemas (‘nickelodeons’) opened in the USA.

1911. Two brothers from New Jersey built Hollywood’s first film studio.

1912. Film-makers from the east coast of the USA came to California, first in small number and then in thousands.

1912. The Hollywood industry was born.

There were several reasons why film makers went to Hollywood. Firstly, there was a lot of space, secondly, California’s warm sunny weather was ideal for making films outside. Thirdly, there was a variety of locations for filming: ocean, mountains, deserts, villages, woodland and rivers.

By 1939 the great dream factory studios made nearly 500 movies a year, drew American audience of 50 million a week and earned over 700 million dollars at the box office-all with the help of 30,000 employees who dealt with everything from processing film to fan mail.

In the 1950s and 60s Hollywood became more international. Famous stars like Maurice Chevalier from France, Marlene Dietrich from Germany and Sofia Loren from Italy came to Hollywood. Even today many international stars like Gerard Depardier and Arnold Schwarzeneger make films in Hollywood.

A big film studio, like MGM or Warner Brothers, brought to life a lot of film stars. They could make or break a star.

The Hollywood film studio produced different types. There were the silent Charlie Chaplin comedies of the 20s, gangster films, Frankenstein horror films and Greta Garbo romantic melodramas of the 30s, the musicals of the 40s and 50s, the westerns (cowboy films) of the 50s, the historical epics of the 60s, the science fiction films of the 70s and the Steven Spielberg action films and violent horror films of the 80s. Who knows what the next century will be famous for?

Beverly Hills.

Most visitors to Los Angeles, California want to go and see Beverly Hills. This is where you find the homes of the movie stars. But Beverly Hills isn’t Los Angeles. It’s a small city next to Los Angeles. All kinds of celebrities live in Beverly Hills. These celebrities may be movie stars, television stars, sport stars, or other people in the news. Tourists can buy special maps for the homes of the stars. These homes are very beautiful. They usually have swimming pools and tennis courts. But sometimes you cannot see very much. The homes have high walls or trees around them. Beverly Hills is also famous for Rodeo Drive. This is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the United States. Rodeo Drive started to be an elegant street in the 1960s. Many famous stores are opened on the street. People liked all the new styles and fashions they could buy. Today you can find the most expensive and unusual clothing, jewelry and furniture in the world on Rodeo Drive. Rodeo Drive is a very special street. When you want to park your car in public parking, an attendant will come and park your car for you. Beverly Hills is really a small city. Only About 35,000 people live there. But during the day more than 200,000 people come to Beverly Hills to work or to shop!

The major film genres.

The major film genres developed in the United States are the following:

Comedy. Charles Spencer Chaplin became the most widely recognized comedy figure in the world. He emphasized the development of character and plot structure, in contrast to the simple reliance on gags and gimmicks that characterized the work of other comedy producers of the day.

Westerns. The Western (a film about life in the American West in the past) was the first American genre to be developed and has remained a staple of the American motion-picture art and industry. It has been estimated that one quarter of US films have been Westerns. However, today most American Westerns are made in Italy and are called '"spaghetti Westerns".

Musicals. The musicals of the late 1920s and the early 1930s consisted of a series of "numbers" by established stars of Broad-way, vaudeville and radio. Later manifestations of the form were the biographical musicals, often highly fictionalized, about great composers, musicians, singers, providing an opportunity to string together some of their most popular hits. The transferring of musicals intact from the Broad-way stage became almost automatic beginning in the 1950s.

Gangster films. While the Western deals with a mythical American past and the musical with a fantasy land, the gangster film is closely tied to a real facet of American life. In earlier films, the gangster had risen to the top to enjoy wealth, power, beautiful women, expensive homes and large cars, but before the end of the film he was bound to be caught by law-enforcement officers, overthrown by fellow gang members or killed. Such punishment was considered obligatory. By 1971, however, "The Godfather" showed how far the genre has evolved: Marion Brando, in the title role, dies of old age. The gangster was another businessman.

War films. They have evolved into a major American genre, since wars have occupied so much of contemporary American history. The Second World War has been the subject of the greatest number of American films in this genre.

Horror films (thrillers). In the 1920s the creation of a monster who gets out of control or is coming to life from non-human beings who survive by killing the living provided the basic story lines of countless horror films. These films also have dealt with supernatural forces that manifest themselves as an unseen power rather than in individual form. A third major kind of horror films deals with people who are insane or in the grip of psychological powers beyond their control.

Horror films as a genre is associated with the name of Alfred Hitchcock. Like Walt Disney with animated cartoons, Alfred Hitchcock was thought not just to have invented a film genre but to have patented it (hence "Hitch", another name for a horror film).

Detective and spy films. These include first of all the James Bond series. Hitchcock's films of this genre feature ordinary people who accidentally become involved with spies or other evil doers.

Science fiction. After the Second World War science-fiction films increasingly suggested that the dangers of the future stemmed from what human beings were doing in the present.

Film Companies

Columbia Pictures (also Columbia)-American film company, which produces films for cinema and television.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) — a film company based in Hollywood, which has made many famous films and animated cartoons.

Paramount- a film company in Hollywood.

20th Century-Fox — an American film company.

United Artists — a film company (studio) in Hollywood.

Universal — n film company (studio) in Hollywood.

Warner Bros (Brothers) — an American film company.

Film Directors and Producers

Alien, Woody (1935—) — a comic actor and maker of humorous films. Since the late 1960s, he has been directing films and acting in them, usually playing a neurotic, bookish New Yorker. Some of his best-known films have been "Annie Hall", "Manhattan" and "Hannah and Her Sisters".

Capra, Frank (1897-1991) - a film director, best known for the films "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Night".

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