Cinematic Flashes

Cinematic Flashes

Cinephilia and Classical Hollywood
Rashna Wadia Richards
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/28/2012
Format: Paperback 26 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00692-9
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Cinematic Flashes challenges popular notions of a uniform Hollywood style by disclosing uncanny networks of incongruities, coincidences, and contingencies at the margins of the cinematic frame. In an agile demonstration of "cinephiliac" historiography, Rashna Wadia Richards extracts intriguing film fragments from their seemingly ordinary narratives in order to explore what these unexpected moments reveal about the studio era. Inspired by Walter Benjamin's preference for studying cultural fragments rather than composing grand narratives, this unorthodox history of the films of the studio system reveals how classical Hollywood emerges as a disjointed network of accidents, excesses, and coincidences.

Author Bio

Rashna Wadia Richards is Associate Professor and T. K. Young Chair of English at Rhodes College.


“By smartly coining and richly practicing what she calls a cinephiliac historiography, Rashna Wadia Richards creates both a new object and a new methodology: here, at last, is a history of classical Hollywood unhooked from strict empiricism, open to the heady winds of chance, excess, serendipity, and Surrealism. Cinematic Flashes revivifies both the canonical films we know too well, and those we have never bothered to pay much attention to. It is a spectacular, sensational achievement.”
 — Adrian Martin, Monash University

“In a field dominated and distracted by the cumulative effect of plot, Rashna Wadia Richards redirects our attention to individual moments, showing us how they can become the means for re-opening classical Hollywood movies that we only thought we had already mastered.”
 — Robert B. Ray, author of Walden x 40

“Cinematic Flashes is filled with lively, surprising historic and theoretical commentary, but perhaps Richards's most remarkable gift is her ability to unearth film details that reverberate, that have commotion-potential. She seizes upon seemingly minor moments in classical Hollywood movies and slowly teases out their ramifications until these "moments," through a cavalcade of novel linkages and associations, have grown momentous.”
 — George Toles, University of Manitoba

“This is a beautifully written book—one marked not just by clarity, but by striking and evocative turns of phrase. It is extraordinary for the way Richards balances and intertwines traditional academic analysis with a more poetical logic. ”
 — Christian Keathley, author of Cinephilia and History, or The Wind in the Trees

“[S]ophisitcated readers will be rewarded with a fresh take on a familiar subject. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Rashan Wadia Richards’s Cinematic Flashes: Cinephilia and Classical Hollywood both treats and is itself the product of the author’s cinephilia, that fervent, devotional, sometimes rabid love for movies once professed by critics such as Susan Sontag and the New Wave devotees of Cahiers du cinema. As Richards traces, this cinephiliac passion was to be suppressed by the sober film theorists of the 1970s, who argues the necessity of destroying cinematic pleasure in order to understand its mechanisms. In recent years, cinephilia has experienced something of a revival, due no doubt to the technological tools that have enabled a new generation of scholars and critics to access vast archives of film material.10th October 2013”
 — Times Literary Supplement

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Inventing Cinephiliac Historiography
1. Sonic Booms: 1929 and the Sensational Transition to Sound
2. Show Stoppers: 1937 and the Chance Encounter with Chiffons
3. Signature Crimes: 1946 and the Strange Case of the Lost Scene (as Well as the Stranger Case of the Missing Auteur)
4. Apocalyptic Antennae: 1954 and the End of Storytelling
Conclusion: The Cinephiliac Return


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