John Dos Passos and Cinema

BookJohn Dos Passos and Cinema

John Dos Passos and Cinema

Clemson University Press


June 19th, 2019

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The book features previously unpublished manuscripts and correspondence illustrating case studies of John Dos Passos' screen writing for Paramount Pictures (1934); his role in writing and filming The Spanish Earth (1937), a Spanish Civil War relief project whose circumstances culminated in his public break from the Left; the 1936 screen treatment he wrote just before The Spanish Earth in consultation with its director, Joris Ivens; and his later-career attempts, beginning in the 1940s, to adapt his radically innovative trilogy U.S.A. directly for the screen and to realign its leftist politics toward the anti-Communist conservatism reflected in his work and activism after the 1930s and the disillusionments of the Spanish Civil War. It thus provides a new context for and reading of his political reorientation in the 1930s that not only ended his long friendship with Ernest Hemingway but also evoked the opprobrium of his former champions on the Left and redefined his literary career.

'A rich and engrossing book... John Dos Passos and Cinema will be the authoritative work on this aspect of Dos Passos's career and aesthetics for some time. But it also provides fresh insights into the perennial topic of his political biography and his shift to the right, as well as providing superb detail on the specifics of the networks and aesthetics of transnational, intermedial experiment on the left that galvanized modernist culture in the 1920s and 1930s.'
Mark Whalan, Modernism/modernity

Author Information

After faculty positions at University of North Carolina affiliates and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service-Qatar, Lisa Nanney co-edited and co-authored the 2017 study of John Dos Passos’s visual works, The Paintings and Drawings of John Dos Passos: A Collection and Study (Clemson University Press). Her current book, John Dos Passos and Cinema (2019), further explores the intersection of his narrative methods and the visual arts by investigating his writing directly for the cinema, his translation of modernist fictional techniques to the screen, and the ways these forays into film writing were shaped by his re-evaluation of the Left at a pivotal point in his career. Nanney is also the author of John Dos Passos Revisited (Macmillan Press, 1998), a critical biography.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Part I (1917–1928) From the Stage to the Screen: “Goin’ to the Movies … ” in the Great War and the 1920s17
1. Experimental Drama and Soviet Constructivist Theater19
2. The Birth of an Industry: Setting the Stage for the Screen33
3. “Propaganda for peace”: Film and Narrative in One Man’s Initiation: 1917 (1920), Three Soldiers (1921), and D.W. Griffith's Hearts of the World (1918)45
4. Soviet Film: Montage, the Camera Eye, and Ideology71
Part II (1934–1937) From Paramount Studios to the Spanish Front: Writing Hollywood, Filming History83
5. “The world’s greatest center of … propaganda”: Hollywood, The Devil Is a Woman, and The Big Money85
6. Film Writing “Dreamfactory,” Metafilm, and the Politics of Form109
7. Filming History and The Spanish Earth: “what a man and a comrade has to do in … wartimes”135
Part III (1937–1970) From Page to Stage to Screens: Adapting U.S.A. and “the truth as I see it”165
8. Filmic Narrative Into Narrative Film: “politics and the silver screen”167