Dirty Real: Exile on Hollywood and Vine with the Gin Mill Cowboys

Reaktion. Jun. 2024. 344p. ISBN 9781789148626. $25. FILM
In a challenging cultural rhapsody about the gritty authenticity characterizing films following the hippie era of the 1960s, Stanfield (emeritus, film, Univ. of Kent; Maximum Movies) posits that the 1970s presented problem-based rather than escapist entertainment vehicles. Actors like Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Jon Voight, and Jeff Bridges personified a bohemian reality in Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Midnight Cowboy, and The Last Picture Show. Stanfield usefully presents minute analyses of lesser-known films of this genre, including Ride in the Whirlwind, The Shooting, The Last Movie, The Hired Hand, and Dirty Little Billy. As with many eras, the themes of 1970s cinema do not precisely correspond to eras; antiheroes, usually loners, already existed in biker, working-class, and Western films of the 1950s. Stanfield references The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, released in 1948, as an influence over the era. He also examines how the lifting of the Production Code in 1968 resulted in greater openness in films.
VERDICT A challenging meditation on nonconformity in mid-20th-century cinema that includes a filmography list influenced by Italian and French New Wave cinema. Cultural critics might enjoy this book more than general readers.
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