Gallafent, Edward

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GALLAFENT, Edward

PERSONAL:

Male. Education: University of South Hampton, B.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Educator and writer. University of Warwick, Coventry, England, head of department of film and television studies.

WRITINGS:

Clint Eastwood: Filmmaker and Star, Continuum (New York, NY), 1994.

Astaire and Rogers, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Also author of numerous articles. Movie magazine, editorial board member.

SIDELIGHTS:

British educator and author Edward Gallafent has focused his career primarily on Hollywood cinema but also has expertise in Western and nineteenth-and twentieth-century American literature. Gallafent's first book about Hollywood cinema delves into the career of American actor, director, and producer Clint Eastwood. According to Richard Combs, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Gallafent stated that his first book, Clint Eastwood: Film-maker and Star, discusses the movies Eastwood has made with respect to "the American culture" of the late twentieth century, "its fantasies and realities." Gallafent examines the various genres Eastwood has worked in, from the Westerns and police movies that made him famous to road movies and biographies. Within this context, Gallafent examines how Eastwood's films have changed over several decades to reflect the changing cultural issues facing Americans. As reported by a Washington Post Book World contributor, Gallafent notes in his book that he is interested in Eastwood's work because of "the way he dramatizes the fantasies of representative Americans."

Combs noted that "there are … many interesting insights in Gallafent's book. But his astuteness in detail is negated by his constant looking-over-the-shoulder to make sure all the right contexts are touched upon." On the other hand, Journal of American Studies contributor Joe Moran found that Gallafent's approach to discussing Eastwood's earlier movies by variously linking them "to themes of disillusionment and reconstruction associated with the Vietnam War … makes for an entertaining and informative read." Moran also noted that "Gallafent's readings of individual films are attentive and intelligent." A Sight and Sound reviewer called the book "ambitious, superbly written … [and] an outstanding demonstration of sheer critical intelligence."

For his second book about Hollywood stars and cinema, Gallafent examined the films that dancers and actors Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together from 1933 to 1939. In Astaire and Rogers he diverges from other books about the dancing duo that focus primarily on the choreography of the dance scenes they performed. Instead, the author discusses how the dance routines further the films' themes, which he claims have an inherent artistic value. For example, Gallafent argues that the dialogue and plotting of the films help influence the audience's perception of the two actors and, as a result, the contextual meaning of their song and dance routines. He also discusses how the duo's films relate both to each other and to other musicals of the era.

In CineAction, Jeffrey Crouse called Astaire and Rogers "a groundbreaking examination of the legendary screen team" and noted that the "originality of [Gallafent's] analysis lies in his dual thesis … that there is an intelligence operating in the narratives … and these films consciously build upon intimate knowledge of each other." However, not all reviewers praised the book, a Publishers Weekly contributor citing Gallafent's "inflated, ponderously academic tone." Most reviewers, however, believed that the book is worthy nonetheless. Writing in Library Journal, Jayne Plymale commented that even though Gallafent's "method of analysis occasionally proves pedestrian, his book nevertheless helps enhance our appreciation of the work" of Astaire and Rogers. Gordon Flagg noted in Booklist that "by convincingly championing their nonmusical passages, Gallafent makes these film perennials seem even better than we already thought they were."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Astaire and Rogers, p. 981.

CineAction, spring, 2002, Jeffrey Crouse, review of Astaire and Rogers, p. 69.

Journal of American Studies, April, 1998, Joe Moran, review of Clint Eastwood: Filmmaker and Star, pp. 131-132.

Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Jayne Plymale, review of Astaire and Rogers, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of Astaire and Rogers, p. 88.

Sight and Sound, May, 1996, review of Clint Eastwood, p. 42.

Times Literary Supplement, December 16, 1994, Richard Combs, review of Clint Eastwood, p. 18.

Washington Post Book World, August, 14, 1994, review of Clint Eastwood, p. 13.

ONLINE

University of Warwick Web site,http://www.warwick.ac.uk/ (August 25, 2004), "Edward Gallafent."*