Doherty, Thomas

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Doherty, Thomas

(Thomas Patrick Doherty)

PERSONAL:

Full name, Thomas Patrick Doherty. Education: University of Iowa, Ph.D., 1984.

ADDRESSES:

Office—American Studies Program, MS005, Brandeis University, P.O. Box 549110, Waltham, MA 02454-9110. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, former associate professor, currently professor of American studies.

WRITINGS:

Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s, Unwin Hyman (Boston, MA), 1988, revised edition, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.

Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1993, revised edition, 1999.

Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Associate editor of film journal Cineaste.

SIDELIGHTS:

Thomas Doherty's books explore American cinematic history within the greater context of American culture. His first book examines the rise of teen culture in post-World War II America, as mirrored—and shaped—by popular cinema. Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s is "as much a cultural study as a work of film criticism," wrote Jeanne Anderegg in the Wilson Library Bulletin. Following the success of the 1956 "teenpic" Rock around the Clock, the film industry departed from its former allegiance to family-oriented movies and began to market films exclusively toward teenagers. Doherty discusses the film industry's manipulation and exploitation of its new audience; as Anderegg noted, "he provides a fascinating window onto capitalism in action as practiced by the film industry." Teenagers and Teenpics examines a crucial turning point in the history of American cinema, for the so-called teenpic was the first type of film to be marketed with a specific target audience in mind.

In Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II, Doherty discusses the film industry's role in depicting the war and promoting certain aspects of it to the American public. Richard Maltby wrote in Film Quarterly that "movies taught Americans how to fight, how to feel about the war, how to recognize and hate the enemy…. In Projections of War Doherty writes that, in several senses, the war always was a movie, or at least, that American perceptions of the war were always mediated by Hollywood." Once America joined the war, the government created the Office of War Information (OWI) to referee Hollywood's depictions of the war; the OWI commissioned documentaries, some to serve as instructional films for GIs and some to be shown on the home front. Doherty discusses these along with the various newsreels, short films, and feature films that both documented the era and shaped America's understanding of the war. Many critics praised Doherty for making this informative text readable; "Doherty's sharp eye for the telling incident and the revealing quote constructs a well-paced and absorbing narrative," wrote Maltby.

Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934 discusses the cultural and cinematic circumstances that set the stage for Hollywood's wildest era. Moviegoing audiences declined sharply during the Depression, and film studios were struggling to master the new sound technology. This tense atmosphere led to the production of racy, violent films and delivered up such notable stars as Mae West, James Cagney, and King Kong. It was not long, however, before the Catholic Legion of Decency staged a successful boycott, and studios soon caved in to the pressure. In 1934 the Production Code was officially adopted—a move which, according to Doherty, upheld the principles of the New Deal and reflected President Roosevelt's guidance towards national unity and stability. "Doherty suggests that the code may actually be responsible in part for the triumphs of what we now think of as the ensuing Golden Age [of Hollywood]," explained Robert Gottlieb in the New York Times Book Review.

Doherty has received praise for his insightful rendering of the relationship between cinema and culture. Donald Lyons wrote in Film Comment, "While [Doherty's] enterprise in the largest sense is sociological, he is respectful of film as film; he knows art when he sees it."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

AB Bookman's Weekly, June 27, 1994, review of Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II, p. 2880.

America, March 5, 1994, George W. Hunt, review of Projections of War, p. 2.

American Studies International, April, 1995, review of Projections of War, p. 142.

Choice, May, 1989, H.A. Keesing, review of Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s, p. 1526; June, 1994, review of Projections of War, p. 1646.

Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 1994, review of Projections of War, p. 13.

Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 1994, review of Projections of War, p. A14.

Film Comment, May-June, 1994, Donald Lyons, review of Projections of War, pp. 83-84.

Film Quarterly, summer, 1989, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 44; summer, 1995, Richard Maltby, review of Projections of War, pp. 53-54.

Journalism Quarterly, summer, 1989, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 502.

Journal of American Studies, December, 1995, review of Projections of War, p. 483.

Journal of Communication, autumn, 1989, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 112.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1993, review of Projections of War, p. 1242.

Library Journal, November 1, 1993, review of Projections of War, p. 95; July, 1999, Stephen Rees, review of Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934, p. 92.

New York Times, December 28, 1993, review of Projections of War, p. C22.

New York Times Book Review, November 28, 1999, Robert Gottlieb, "Blue Period," pp. 16-17.

Popular Music and Society, fall, 1990, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 129.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 1988, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 69; November 8, 1993, review of Projections of War, p. 63; July 12, 1999, review of Pre-Code Hollywood, p. 81.

Reference and Research Book News, November, 1994, review of Projections of War, p. 7.

Reviews in American History, June, 1995, review of Projections of War, p. 317.

Sociological Review, August, 1989, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 583.

Times Literary Supplement, June 9, 1995, review of Projections of War, p. 36.

Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1989, Jeanne Anderegg, review of Teenagers and Teenpics, p. 129.

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