Chuck Kleinhans, ‘Working-Class Film Heroes: Junior Johnson, Evel Knieval and the Film Audience,’ in Jump Cut: Hollywood, Politics and Counter Cinema, Peter Steven, ed. (New York: Praeger, 1985), 66.
These ‘two faces of capitalism’ in film were noted by Robin Wood, ‘Ideology, Genre, Auteur,’ in Film Genre Reader II, Barry Keith Grant, ed. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003), 65.
James V. Catano, Ragged Dicks: Masculinity, Steel, and the Rhetoric of the Self-Made Man (Carbondale, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 158.
See Martha P. Nochimson, Dying to Belong: Gangster Movies in Hollywood and Hong Kong (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), for a trenchant discussion of performativity and the fragmentation and discontinuity of identity in gangster films.
Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel (New York: Stein and Day, 1966).
Barbara Klinger, ‘“Cinema/Ideology/Criticism” Revisited: The Progressive Genre,’ in Film Genre Reader II, Barry Keith Grant, ed. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1995), 79.
Three of the most detailed and insightful analyses of the film were written in the 1970s and 1980s when close analysis of classic Hollywood films was hitting its stride. See Robert B. Ray, A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930–1980 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985);
Robin Wood, ‘Ideology, Genre, Auteur,’ Film Comment 13, no. 1 (1977): 46–51; and
Ray Carney, American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra (West Nyack, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
For a good introduction to the significance of the road in American film, see David Laderman, Driving Visions: Exploring the Road Movie (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2002).
Peter Stead, in Film and the Working Class: The Feature Film in British and American Society (Oxford: Routledge, 1991), identifies popular culture’s ‘vague belief in the common man and a moral if politically neutral criticism of the abuse of wealth.’ He goes on to note ‘how easy it was to tell stories that would be sympathetic to the common man, that would condemn all truly evil men and their agencies, and yet at the same time would do nothing other than confirm existing social values,’ 22.
Peter Roffman, The Hollywood Social Program Film: Madness, Despair, and Politics from the Depression to the Fifties (Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 1981).
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Class-Passing: Social Mobility in Film and Popular Culture (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005), 17–18.
Jack Boozer calls this recurring pattern ‘rise-and-fall overreacher narratives’ and focuses his discussion on promotional hucksterism in films of the 1950s. Jack Boozer, Career Movies: American Business and the Success Mystique (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2002), 165.
A thorough list of biopics up until the early 1990s can be found in Eileen Karsten, From Real Life to Reel Life: A Filmography of Biographical Film (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993). For analytical considerations of the genre, see
Dennis Bingham, Whose Lives Are They Anyway?: The Biopic As Contemporary Film Genre (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010) and
George Custen, Bio/Pics: How Hollywood Constructed Public History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992).
The film’s basis in and faithfulness to the life of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst has been investigated by many writers, including Laura Mulvey, Citizen Kane (London: BFI Publishing, 1992), and
Simon Callow, Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu (New York: Penguin, 1995).
For an introduction to scholarship about the alliance between cinema and consumer culture, see David Desser and Garth S. Jowett, eds. Hollywood Goes Shopping (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).
Robert Warshow, ‘The Gangster As a Tragic Hero,’ in The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre and Other Aspects of Popular Culture (New York: Atheneum, 1974), 131.
Thomas Schatz, Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System (New York: McGraw Hill, 1981), 85.
For an extended discussion of gangster ethnicity, see Rachel Rubin and Jeffrey Melnick, Immigrants and Popular Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2007).
For a discussion of the loss of ethnic identity in immigrant sagas, see Mark Winokur, American Laughter: Immigrants, Ethnicity, and 1930s Hollywood Film Comedy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996). Winokur points out: ‘The price of assimilation is the individual’s renunciation of his old family and the conscious and so necessarily incomplete identification with a new family whose signs of communality are based on affluence rather than on shared historical referents. For those born wealthy, affluence is a shared culture, and success is a return to the parents … For those born poor and ethnic, success is traumatic, a renunciation of the consensual reality one knows in favor of an alternative, alienating reality that nevertheless must be life sustaining. The New-World plot, in which success may be chosen without consequences, is a fantasy of an acculturation that has already taken place without its concomitant identity-suicide,’ 62.
Jonathan Munby, Public Enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the Gangster from ‘Little Caesar’ to ‘Touch of Evil’. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 48–9.
See the essays in Nick Browne, Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Trilogy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
Barbara Ehrenreich, Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class (New York: Pantheon Books, 1989).
One of the best books on how American movies represent and speak to class is Steven J. Ross, Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998).
Robert N. Bellah’s landmark sociological study Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985) remains a seminal study of American thought regarding the two strains of individualism and the ongoing tension between individualist and communal commitments and traditions in American life.
For an extended discussion of marriage in ‘the women’s film,’ see the chapter on marriage in Jeanine Basinger, A Women’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930–1960 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993).
For discussions of the film’s improbable ending, see Jeanine Basinger, A Women’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930–1960 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993);
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Class-Passing: Social Mobility in Film and Popular Culture (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005);
Thomas Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930–1934 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
Director Douglas Sirk once called such endings ‘emergency exits’: improbable, last-minute resolutions of the vexing issues that have informed the preceding narrative. For Sirk’s astute musings on the resolutions of melodramas, see Douglas Sirk, Sirk on Sirk: Interviews with Jon Halliday (London: BFI Publishing, 1971).
See Christine Gledhill, ed. Home is Where the Heart Is: Studies in Melodrama and the Women’s Film (London: BFI Publishing, 1987), one of the first (and still one of the best) considerations of melodrama on film. Also
Marcia Landy, Imitations of Life: A Reader of Film and Television Melodrama (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1991);
John Mercer and Martin Shinger, Melodrama: Genre, Style, and Sensibility (London: Wallflower Press, 2004).
Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 129.