Mast, Gerald, and Bruce F. Kawin. A Short History of the Movies. Boston: Longman, 2011.
As a text book, it was interesting to see how Mast organized the history of film. I would list his priorities as follows:
- Nation - what advances/movements came from which nation when?
- Auteur - Who were the key auteurs, how did they advance film as art, and which film or films are most representative of their work.
- The business of film, and its effect on film as art
- Technical advances
- American Periods: they are as follows...
2. First features (Birth of a Nation) 10s
3. First talkies (Jazz Singer) 20s
4. Studio/Hollywood Era (studio controlled stars, directors and each studio had its own recognizable style) late 20s-40s
5. Hollywood in Crisis (threat of television, decline of studios, impact of Italian neo-realism and French New Film) 50s-60s
6. Neo-Hollywood (Bonnie and Clyde) 60s-70s
7. Return to myths (Star Wars) 1977-
8. Digital Era (Toy Story, Attack of the Clones, O Brother Where Art Thou) 1995-
Less important were the following aspects
- Genre - Mast discusses the broader trends of genres such as westerns, noir, and comedy but this is not an organizing theme.
- Actors - Only actors who were themselves auteurs, such as Chaplin, are discussed at length
- Film as popular art - He is more interested in films/auteurs that pushed the boundary of the art and spends little time dissecting blockbuster hits unless they were innovative in some other way (ex. Start Wars).
- Ideological criticism - He does some of this broadly, especially in his discussion of post 1977 films and the return to broader, Reagan/Thatcher/Conservatism myths away from the more cynical, anti-mythic films of the prior period.