Joseph E. Levine: showmanship, reputation and industrial practice 1945-1977

McKenna, Anthony T. (2008) Joseph E. Levine: showmanship, reputation and industrial practice 1945-1977. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Joseph E. Levine has been largely neglected by Film Studies, yet he was a uniquely important figure in the US film industry during his lifetime. As an independent producer, distributor and promoter, Levine's influence on the post-War cinematic landscape of the US was wide-ranging and profound. His versatility and multifariousness were unsurpassed during his lifetime and analysis of his abilities, strategies and influence complicates many areas of current film scholarship.

Levine was a very prominent figure in the popular press where he was perceived as a master showman. His prominence and hyperbolic style undermines the traditional understanding of the cultural intermediary, a role usually associated with discretion. Levine's conspicuousness led to him becoming an easily identifiable public figure yet, due to his varied output, he resists the notions of branding that are often associated with prominent figures in the film industry.

Studies of reputation building strategies are often closely aligned to critical approval, yet Levine never courted critical favour. Although Levine's output catered for many niche tastes, his public image was unabashedly populist. He would, however, utilise the critical adulation bestowed on others to bolster his own reputation as a supporter of talent, providing an ideal case study for the complex political interactions of reputational assessment.

As a pioneer of industrial strategy and practice, Levine was hugely influential. He pioneered saturation publicity and opening tactics and was an early advocator of the use of television in movie marketing, and therein he represents a vital missing link in the evolution of blockbuster marketing techniques. He was similarly influential regarding the marketing and distribution of art cinema and, in the 1960s and 1970s, he helped to redefine the role of the independent producer.

All these factors combine to make Levine an ideal vantage point for surveying cultural and filmic mores of the post-War US. His career was one of extraordinary contradictions and complexities. An analysis of his career provides a deepening of understanding of film historiography of this era and calls into question many commonly held scholarly assumptions regarding taste cultures, cultural boundaries and the supposed demarcation between independent and major studio film production.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Stringer, J.E.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Joseph E. Levine, Showmanship, Hollywood, Film Importing, Taste Cultures, Blockbuster Film, Industrial History, Industrial Practice, Reputation.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of American and Canadian Studies
ID Code:549
Deposited By:A.T. McKenna
Deposited On:23 Jul 2008
Last Modified:17 Feb 2009 19:33

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