Tag Archive for Basinger

Basinger Discusses the History of the Summer Blockbuster

Jeanine Basinger

How did summer get to be such a make-or-break season for Hollywood? It wasn’t always this way, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger recently told Marketplace, from American Public Media.

“In the old days, the studio system rolled out movies,” she said. “I mean, let’s take MGM. In 1952 [it] put out a feature film every week, so for 52 weeks they rolled out 52 features.”

In the 1940s, 80 percent of Americans went to the movies once a week. But with television gaining popularity, attendance had plummeted by the 1970s. Until 1975, when Jaws was released around the July 4th weekend. It was a smash hit. A few years later came another hit: Star Wars.

Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13 Talks with Basinger on WNPR

Joss Whedon '87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the "Buffy to Bard" exhibit.

Joss Whedon ’87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the “Buffy to Bard” exhibit.

WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show featured a conversation between Joss Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13; Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives; and David Lavery, author of Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers and co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association.

Basinger described her experience with Whedon while he was a student at Wesleyan.

“When I encountered Joss at Wesleyan, he was my superhero because he was a really fabulous student, an original thinker and somebody who you just knew was born to be a storyteller. Those things were very, very clearly in place already with him at college,” she said.

Basinger is also asked about influences apparent in Whedon’s work.

“Joss is an original. Whatever he learned or saw from past movies, or got in my class—or in Richard Slotkin’s class—has been totally filtered through his own sensibility…

“For me, I definitely perceive it as work by Joss because I hear his voice, I feel his concerns. People sometimes ask me, ‘Who is Buffy?’ and I say ‘Buffy is Joss.’ There isn’t any other answer. He’s made things so much his own, and the kinds of conventions that come out of genre that he understands and uses, the whole reason they’re in our culture is to be tempered and redesigned and reconstituted and brought forth through the creative force of a new generation. And that’s what Joss has done with them.”

 

Basinger Praised as Iconic Film Professor in The Hollywood Reporter

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies (Photo credit: Smallz + Raskind)

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, was recently featured in a Hollywood Reporter article “The Professor of Hollywood,” by film historian and best-selling author Sam Wasson ’03, who studied with Basinger at Wesleyan. The magazine brought together 33 of her former pupils who work prominently in the film industry for “an A-list class reunion” photo—and several of them talk about how Basinger inspired them, encouraging their self-expression while also sharing with them her love for the medium.

In the article, Basinger discusses how and why she came to devote her life to the study of film and how working as an usher in a movie theater, watching the same film over and over, helped her to understand the filmmaking process—and gave her the foundation for her future as a film scholar at a time when there were no film schools. In 1960 she began work in the advertising department at a scholastic publisher on the Wesleyan campus, but within a decade, she began teaching at the University some of first film study classes in America.

Basinger Comments on Why Today’s TV is So Good

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, spoke with The Huffington Post about why today’s television is so good. TV has come a long way since 1961 when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow proclaimed television “a vast wasteland” in an address to the National Association of Broadcasters. The article explores how advances in technology and television production have vastly improved the experience for viewers.

One of the biggest changes was the introduction of DVR and streaming services, which mean we’re no longer slaves to the television schedule, required to sit on the couch for an hour when our favorite show airs.

“I think that’s a very ‘old people’ view, that we’re all just sitting around on our couch and eating cookies,” Basinger told The Huffington Post. “That’s very 1960s. I don’t think people do that anymore. We can control our viewing of TV, when we watch it and how we watch it.”

The writer also argues that “TV is now the definitive space for starting a dialogue around social issues.”

“TV has become a global forum of discussion, information, entertainment and intellectual stimulation,” Basinger agreed. “Watching TV doesn’t eliminate your intellectual life. It actually adds to it.”

Basinger Reflects on Star Wars Sequel Success

Though movie sequels had been successful in the past, it was a huge surprise when The Empire Strikes Back turned out to be as popular as the original Star Wars film, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, told the website Boing Boing for a story reflecting on Empire 35 years after it arrived in cinemas.

“When you have set a level that you set with Star Wars in terms of financial success, critical success, audience success, quality of production, greatness of storytelling, you don’t really think even if the second one is going to be good that it can hit that same level twice because Star Wars was a real landmark film,” Basinger said. “It was a real big impact film and so you don’t expect the next one in that sequence to also be a landmark. It just doesn’t seem possible the way storytelling works but Empire was a movie that did not let down the standards set by Star Wars and that was great. Everybody was thrilled.”

She added that Empire opened up in a new way the possibility of sequential storytelling on a giant scale.

Basinger also is curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives.

Basinger, Arnold ’91 Talk About Classic Movies on TCM

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, and Jeremy Arnold ’91 will hold a public talk on “Films and Facts: Whose Responsibility?” at 12:30 p.m. March 27 at the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival. The schedule of the film festival can be found here.

Hollywood’s alleged disregard for the facts of history is year after year the subject of heated media debate. From the early days of the silent era to this year’s Oscar race, charges of historical inaccuracy have fueled great conversations about factual reproduction, creative license, propaganda and audience responsibility. Jeanine Basinger and Jeremy Arnold will continue the tradition by discussing the fascinating question of whether Hollywood films have a responsibility to history or storytelling.

Arnold, who holds a BA in film studies, is the author of Lawrence of Arabia: The 50th Anniversary, a coffee table book published by Sony and included in their 2012 Blu-ray release of Lawrence of Arabia. The book and Blu-ray can be found here.

Held over four days in the heart of Hollywood, the TCM Classic Film Festival is a place where movie lovers from around the world can gather to experience classic movies as they were meant to be experienced: on the big screen, in some of the world’s most iconic venues, with the people who made them. Moreover, the TCM Classic Film Festival strives to be a place where a community of movie fans of all ages can share their love of classic movies with each other, make new friends and see films as they are seldom seen today.

Richards ’69, Basinger Speak on Adapting Bridges of Madison County into a Film and Musical

On Saturday, May 24 at the Center for Film Studies, veteran Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards ’69 (All the Way, The Realistic Joneses, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger spoke to a packed house about the different approaches in adapting the novel The Bridges of Madison County into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood Hon. ’00, and into a musical, which Richards recently co-produced on Broadway.

On May 24 at the Center for Film Studies, veteran Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards ’69 (All the Way, The Realistic Joneses, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger spoke to a packed house about the different approaches in adapting the novel The Bridges of Madison County into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood Hon. ’00, and into a musical, which Richards recently co-produced on Broadway. During the WESeminar, Richards discussed the difficulties of producing and marketing a show with a new musical score as opposed to a jukebox musical with familiar songs, which is popular show genre on Broadway these days. Richards also spoke about the influence of critics on the success of a play or a musical and the possibility of making money on a show on tour even if it doesn’t do well on Broadway.

David Low '76, associate director of publications; Marc Longenecker, technical and programming manager in film studies; Lea Carlson, associate director of film studies, and Lilly Holman '15 enjoyed the WESeminar with Jeffrey Richards '69 and Jeanine Basinger.

David Low ’76, associate director of publications; Marc Longenecker ’03, MA ’07, technical and programming manager in film studies; Lea Carlson, associate director of film studies, and Lilly Holman ’15 enjoyed the WESeminar with Jeffrey Richards ’69 and Jeanine Basinger.

Wesleyan’s Coursera Classes Begin April 21 with Basinger’s “Marriage in the Movies”

Professor Jeanine Basinger is teaching “Marriage in the Movies: A History," starting April 21.

Professor Jeanine Basinger is teaching “Marriage in the Movies: A History,” starting April 21.

Always wanted to take a course with legendary film professor Jeanine Basinger? Miss the first run of Professor of Psychology Scott Plous’ wildly popular “Social Psychology” MOOC? Now’s your chance!

The next round of Wesleyan’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) is starting up this month, with “Marriage in the Movies: A History” launching April 21. Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is teaching the course based on her book, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies.

“This is essentially a descriptive course on stories and stars and business strategies,” says Basinger, who is also chair of film studies and curator of the cinema archives. “It provides information and shows clips for support and example. It’s not philosophical; it’s not a formalist analysis. It’s a simple study about content in the movies designed for people who love films and would like to have more information about some of them and have, what I hope, will be a fun conversation on the changes that evolved over time in stories about marriage that were made in Hollywood.”

In the course’s intro video, Basinger says the course will explore “how Hollywood had trouble telling the story and selling the story of marriage on film.”

Basinger Speaks on Casting Directing in HBO Documentary

Casting ByJeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is a guest speaker featured in the new HBO documentary, “Casting By.” The documentary premiered Aug. 5. Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Robert Redford and others make appearances in the film.

“Casting By” explores the unsung hero of Hollywood: a casting director. The story focuses on Marion Dougherty, known for pioneering the casting business, long before the Casting Society of America or the Directors Guild of America existed. Dougherty gave actors including James Dean, Glenn Close, Al Pacino, Bette Midler, Warren Beatty, Jon Voight and Diane Lane their first onscreen roles.

Watch the trailer online here.

Basinger, Grimmer-Solem, Wagoner Honored with Binswanger Teaching Prizes

Wesleyan faculty Jeanine Basinger, Erik Grimmer-Solem and Phillip Wagoner received Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching on May 26. They are pictured here with Wesleyan President Michael Roth, third from left.

Wesleyan faculty Jeanine Basinger, Erik Grimmer-Solem and Phillip Wagoner received Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching on May 26. They are pictured here with Wesleyan President Michael Roth, third from left.

Every year Wesleyan recognizes outstanding teaching with three Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching awarded at commencement. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Recommendations are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, and current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty, emeriti, and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

This year, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:

Jeanine Basinger, the  Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is the founder of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and the originator of Wesleyan’s distinguished Film Studies Department, for which she defined a liberal arts approach that combines history/theory and production as a unified subject of study. She was a previous recipient of the Binswanger Prize in 1996, the winner of the Connecticut Governor’s Award for her contribution to film and the arts, and the awardee of the first and only honorary degree given to an academic by the American Film Institute in recognition of her pioneering contribution to film studies and for the influence of her former students in film and television. Two of her prominent students, Majora Carter ’88 and Joss Whedon ’87, were recipients of honorary degrees at commencement.

A proud native of South Dakota, Basinger received her entire formal education there, from first grade through master’s degree. As a nationally recognized expert on film, she has written copious articles for publications ranging from The New York Times to Opera News, and 11 books on film, including Silent Stars, The Star Machine, and her latest, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies. She serves as trustee for the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. She also was primary advisor on Martin Scorsese’s education project, The Story of Movies; head consultant for the PBS series American Cinema: 100 Years of Filmmaking; and co-producer for the American Masters special on Clint Eastwood.

Erik Grimmer-Solem, associate professor of history, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2002. He has a D.Phil from Oxford University, an M.Phil from Cambridge University, an M.Sc from the London School of Economics, and a BA from Brigham Young University. He has received awards and fellowships from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and the University of Chicago.

His teaching and scholarly interests are in German history, economic and social history, and the history of economic thought. He is particularly interested in the relationship between social science and policy. His courses include surveys of economic history, modern German history, and College of Social Studies history tutorials, as well as seminars on the welfare state, the Weimar Republic, and the Holocaust. In 2005 he received Wesleyan’s Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize for excellence in teaching and research.

He is the author of The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany, 1864–1894, published by Oxford University Press. His scholarly articles have appeared in such journals as the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, German History, and the Journal of World History. A second book, Empire of the Mind: German Political Economy and the World, 1880–1918, will appear in 2014.

Phillip Wagoner, professor of art history, professor of archaeology, holds a BA from Kenyon College and a Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught at Wesleyan since 1988, offering courses in the art history department and the archaeology program, as well as in the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, where he has also served as curator. He has spent sabbatical years in the Deccan region of South India, associated with the Vijayanagara Research Project, an international team of scholars in different disciplines dedicated to documentation and interpretation of the site of Vijayanagara, capital of the state that dominated the southern part of the Indian peninsula between the 1340s and 1565.

Professor Wagoner’s primary interest is in the historical interactions between the established Indic culture of the Deccan region and the Persianate culture that arrived in the early 14th century. Since 2000, his work has increasingly focused on Persianate Islamic architecture in this region. The author of two books and many journal articles, he has recently completed a third book, Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300–1600, co-authored with historian Richard M. Eaton.

Basinger’s Book Examines the “Marriage Movie”

Book by Jeanine Basinger.

Book by Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is the author of I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, published by Knopf in January 2013.

This extensively researched and illustrated book examines “the marriage movie;” what it is (or isn’t) and what it has to tell us about the movies—and ourselves. As long as there have been feature movies there have been marriage movies, and yet Hollywood has always been cautious about how to label them—perhaps because, unlike any other genre of film, the marriage movie resonates directly with the experience of almost every adult coming to see it. Here is “happily ever after”—except when things aren’t happy, and when “ever after” is abruptly terminated by divorce, tragedy . . . or even murder.

Basinger traces the many ways Hollywood has tussled with this tricky subject, explicating the relationships of countless marriages from Blondie and Dagwood to the heartrending couple in the Iranian A Separation, from Tracy and Hepburn to Laurel and Hardy (a marriage if ever there was one) to Coach and his wife in Friday Night Lights. The volume contains a treasure trove of movie stills, posters and ads.

Basinger Reviews Hollywood Sketchbook in Wall Street Journal

On Jan. 11, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, reviewed a new book, Hollywood Sketchbook, by Deborah Nadoolman Landis in The Wall Street Journal. Landis, a costume designer herself, “defines the difference between the designer’s costuming goal and the role of the sketch artist. Costume sketches were never intended to be fashion drawings: Kinetic, emotional and drawn for a specific personality or character, they were about much more than clothes,” writes Basinger.

The book contains commentaries and reproduced sketches for 61 designers, including such famous names as Adrian (known for The Wizard of Oz, Camille, and Marie Antoinette, among others), Travis Banton (Blonde Venus) and Walter Plunkett (Gone with the Wind). In her review, Basinger notes flaws in the book, such as incomplete filmographies for each designer and missing identifying information on sketches, yet concludes, “… given the beautiful reproduction, on elegant paper, of so many original sketches impossible to find anywhere else, it is hard to complain. Who wouldn’t want to sip a coffee contemplating Travilla’s design for the hot pink dress, with a large bow across the rear, so famously worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?”