Standish, Isolde. "Chushingura and the Japanese Studio System." Japan Forum. 17.1 (2005): 69-86
This article locates the Chushingura narrative within the studio system as the story chosen for all-star studio celebration productions to mark special events (kinen eiga), and examines the narrative's relation to the studio star system. The main question addressed is: how have established narrative conventions of the drama been manipulated to remain fresh to each viewing generation?
This article helps explain the popularity of the 47 ronin narrative in Japanese culture and refutes any claim that the film was made to boost the Japanese war effort. It's appeal at the time and still today, is the "tragic hero" aspect of the samurai and their dedication to the samurai code.
an in-depth look at the genres that overwhelmed it for much of the twentieth-century.
An understanding of the many factors that drove films to be centered
on the topics that they were then lends to a more comprehensive picture of what
the film industry and American culture were during the studio period. Schatz
divides his book into two main parts: a theoretical look at genre film-making followed
by case studies of six dominant genres characteristic of the Hollywood studio system.
The genre that Schatz explores that is most relevant to "The Philadelphia Story" is
the one on The Screwball Comedy (Chapter 6, p. 150-185). Schatz outlines the general
convention of the screwball comedy, often characterized by portrayals of the American
elite and social and sexual tensions between the sexes- usually between a frustrated
man and woman from different backgrounds who fight their way through fast-paced and
witty dialogue only to realize that they are destined for each other. The themes in
screwball comedies usually deal with class issues and romantic or sexual ones.
Schatz notes the
huge popularity of these films during the Great Depression. He mentions "The
Philadelphia Story" specifically in order to discuss a variation of the archetypal
screwball comedy that became popular in the 1940s: the divorce-remarriage variation.
In these films the screwball couple have already been joined together in marriage
but then something goes awry and the movie is spent reconciling this differences.
"The Philadelphia Story" is a prime example for this sub-genre, with the relationship
between Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven occupying its plot and manifesting itself
in typical, and highly entertaining, screwball manner.
Bosley Crowther uses Lifeboat as a case study in the issues he sees with the current state of the film industry. He questions why the screenwriter never receives the attention and the acclaim that the playwright does. With control firmly rooted in the hands of the producer and the director, a screenwriter may find his name attached to a project that is significantly altered from his original vision. Early criticism of Lifeboat came on the shoulders of both Hitchcock and Steinbeck. Steinbeck was a well known name, but for his novels not for his work in the film industry. Subsequently, his name was used to market the film even though he had no control and input on the final print. The lack of control is a situation that many Hollywood screenwriters could find themselves in.
Crowther’s analysis and comparison of Steinbeck’s original treatment of Lifeboat and the final script reveals the specifics of the changes Steinbeck that drove Steinbeck to seek the removal of his name from the film. Steinbeck’s tale was even more character and less plot driven then Hitchcock’s final film. The largest change is the democracies foe was not the Nazi but the ocean. The Nazi attempted take over was little more than a subplot which was handled after only one act of deception by the other survivors.
Crowther accuses Hitchcock and producer Macgowan of “preempting” Steinbeck’s “creative authority.” However, he acknowledges that under the current system the director and the producer have every right to change, for better or worse, a screenwriter’s original intent and characters. He places blame too not only the founders of the system, but the writers who do not do anything to change it. Crowther does not seek a system in which the producer has no control, as without his financing the film would not be made. He seeks for a more balanced industry in which the financial and creative input are on a more balanced footing.