American Cinema: Film in the Television Age (1995)
*** (out of 4)
Good entry in the 13-part series takes a look at the changed Hollywood had to make once a new rival was introduced. Gen Siskel, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, John Frankenheimer, Haskell Wexler, Arthur Penn, Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands and Delbert Mann are among the people interviewed as they discuss the changes Hollywood had to make and what effect the movies would eventually have on television. The first portion of this movie mainly talks about how bad theaters were doing by the time TV was coming in and how this new rival hurt business even more. We learn about the television push, which caused the studio to then come up with widescreen movies as well as gimmicks like 3D. From here we learn how the TV craze also helped Hollywood produce more "non-G rated" material. Overall this is a pretty good documentary but what works so well about it is that we get interviews with several directors who started on television and then took these talents to the big screen. Getting to hear from the likes of Altman, Lumet and Frankenheimer really gives one a great idea of what it was like to shoot on television and the breakdown of the events in a week were really fun. Another good thing this has going for it was looking at how some directors like Elia Kazan took on television with more cynical movies.
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