The Persistence of Hollywood

Thomas Elsaesser

Routledge, 408pp

While Hollywood’s success – its persistence – has remained constant for almost one hundred years, the study of its success has undergone significant expansion and transformation. Since the 1960s, Thomas Elsaesser’s research has spearheaded the study of Hollywood, beginning with his classic essays on auteurism and cinephilia, focused around a director’s themes and style, up to his analysis of the "corporate authorship" of contemporary director James Cameron. In between, he has helped to transform film studies by incorporating questions of narrative, genre, desire, ideology and, more recently, Hollywood’s economic-technological infrastructure and its place within global capitalism.

The Persistence of Hollywood brings together Elsaesser’s key writings about Hollywood filmmaking. It includes his detailed studies of individual directors (including Minnelli, Fuller, Ray, Hitchcock, Lang, Altman, Kubrick, Coppola, and Cameron), as well as essays charting the shifts from classic to corporate Hollywood by way of the New Hollywood and the resurgence of the blockbuster. The book also presents a history of the different critical-theoretical paradigms central to film studies in its analysis of Hollywood, from auteurism and cinephilia to textual analysis, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post-industrial analysis.


Acknowledgments and Places of Previous Publication

Thomas Elsaesser 

Part I – Flashback: Of Objects of Love and Objects of Study

1. Film Studies in Britain: Cinephilia, Screen Theory and Cultural Studies


2. The Name for a Pleasure that has No Substitute: Vincente Minnelli


3. All the Lonely Places: The Heroes of Nicholas Ray


4. Sam Fuller’s Productive Pathologies: The Hero as (His Own Best) Enemy


5. Cinephilia: Or the Uses of Disenchantment


Part II – Genius of the System

6. The Persistence of Hollywood, Part I: The Continuity Principle


7. Why Hollywood?


8. Narrative Cinema and Audience Aesthetics: The Mise-en-Scène of the Spectator


9. Film as System: Or How to Step Through an Open Door


10. Gangsters and Grapefruits: Masculinity and Marginality in The Public Enemy


Part III – Studio and Genre: Auteurs Maudits, Mavericks and Eminent Europeans

11. Transatlantic Triangulations: William Dieterle and the Warner Bros. Biopics


12. Welles and Virtuosity: Citizen Kane as Character-Mask


13. The Dandy in Hitchcock


14. Too Big and Too Close: Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang


15. Robert Altman’s Nashville: Putting on the Show


16. Stanley Kubrick’s Prototypes: The Author as World-Maker


Part IV – Genie out of the Bottle: The Return of the System as Auteur?

17. The Pathos of Failure: Notes on the Unmotivated Hero


18. Auteur Cinema and the New Economy Hollywood


19. The Love that Never Dies: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker’s Dracula


20. The Blockbuster as Time Machine


21. Auteurism Today: Signature Products, Concept-Authors and Access for All: Avatar


Part V – The Persistence of Hollywood


22. Digital Hollywood: Between Truth, Belief and Trust


23. The Persistence of Hollywood, Part II: Reflexivity, Feedback and Self-Regulation