Author Archives: Mark Lynn Anderson

About Mark Lynn Anderson

Mark Lynn Anderson is [2012] Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. As Edwin S. Curtis Fellow in Film Studies, he was Assistant Programmer of the Motion Picture Collection at George Eastman House, 1997-1998. Author of Twilight of the Idols: Hollywood and the Human Sciences in 1920s America (University of California Press, 2011) and articles on the Hollywood star system, celebrity scandal, early film education, media censorship and regulation, and film historiography, Anderson is currently writing about the corporate legacy in American film historical writing.

Modern Times

film stillCommenting on the appearance in 1936 of what was essentially a silent picture, film critic Otis Ferguson snipped, “Modern Times is about the last thing United Artists should have called this film.”

Chaplin was the only figure in Hollywood who could have successfully made a silent film almost eight years after the U.S. film industry converted to synchronized sound film making. While the talkies had become the standard of the day, Chaplin’s popular screen identity — the little tramp figure that we all know and that was known and beloved around the world — had been fully formed in the silent cinema of the teens and early twenties. The silence of the tramp was an issue that Chaplin had fretted over when producing his previous film, City Lights, in 1931. And while that film was a huge success four more years had gone by and the silent era was already being represented as ancient history. Continue reading

British Documentary

Film StillBetween 1930 and 1939 in Britain some sixty filmmakers working together in collaborative film units produced over 300 documentaries, a body of work central to the historic development of the documentary and documentary film practice. Several of the films made by the filmmakers associated with the Empire Marketing Board (the EMB), from 1930 to 1933, and with the Government Post Office film unit (the GPO), from 1933 to 1939, became crucial references for almost every subsequent documentary movement. Continue reading

A Nous la liberte

René Clair’s À Nous la liberté (known in English as Freedom for Us, though it was released in the United States in 1932 with its French title) is a musical comedy about the alienation of modern work. It’s the kind of film that might have resulted had the Marx Brothers been engaged to make Metropolis rather than Fritz Lang. René Clair shared with the Marx Brothers a mocking disregard for most forms of authority and a joyous pleasure in the subversion of all forms of social pretension and bourgeois decorum. In fact, the Marx Brothers borrowed material from tonight’s film when they made A Night at the Opera in 1935. Continue reading