In Paris in the Dark Eric Smoodin takes readers on a journey through the streets, cinemas, and theaters of Paris to sketch a comprehensive picture of French film culture during the 1930s and 1940s. Drawing on a wealth of journalistic sources, Smoodin recounts the ways films moved through the city, the favored stars, and what it was like to go to the movies in a city with hundreds of cinemas. In a single week in the early 1930s, moviegoers might see Hollywood features like King Kong and Frankenstein, the new Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier movies, and any number of films from Italy, Germany, and Russia. Or they could frequent the city's ciné-clubs, which were hosts to the cinéphile subcultures of Paris. At other times, a night at the movies might result in an evening of fascist violence, even before the German Occupation of Paris, while after the war the city's cinemas formed the space for reconsolidating French film culture. In mapping the cinematic geography of Paris, Smoodin expands understandings of local film exhibition and the relationships of movies to urban space.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction. A Walking Tour: 1930–1981 1 1. The Cinemas and the Films: 1931–1933 21 2. The Ciné-Clubs: 1930–1944 41 3. Chevalier and Dietrich: 1929–1935 60 4. Violence at the Cinema: 1930–1944 76 5. Occupied Paris: 1939–1944, 2009 99 6. Liberation Cinema, Postwar Cinema: 1944–1949 122 Conclusion. A Final Stroll, 1948–1954: 1980–2016 147 Notes 157 Bibliography 181 Index 189
“Eric Smoodin is a delightful guide to Parisian movie theaters as they shaped the filmgoing experience in the decades of the 1930s and 1940s, from the coming of sound to the somber years of the German Occupation to the postwar efforts to rebuild film culture. Paris in the Dark is an outstanding study of the spaces and places of Parisian filmgoing and a major contribution to French film studies.”
~Judith Mayne, author of, Le Corbeau
“This meticulously researched study of French film exhibition charts the shifts in film culture during the early sound period, the German Occupation, and the postwar reconstruction. Eric Smoodin crafts a fascinating, street-level history of film culture through a savvy use of primary sources, industry surveys of spectators, and government studies. Enriched with case studies about stardom, ciné-clubs, and the rise of fascist violence, this book reminds us of the vitality and fragility of French film culture.”
~Kelley Conway, author of, Chanteuse in the City: The Realist Singer in French Film
"Through presenting incredibly meticulous research, which comes as the sum total of a forty-year pursuit of better understanding Paris' film culture, this work fills an essential gap in understanding the history of Parisian film exhibition by tracing the dimensions of moviegoing at the beginning of the sound era on through to the first films of the French New Wave. In addition to presenting a needed bridge between the Classical French Cinema and the New Wave, Paris in the Dark can be seen as an essential case study in the ongoing effort within the film studies discipline to redefine national cinema."
~David Morton, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
"Smoodin has written an immaculately researched tome…. His passion combined with his thorough ressearch present a truly unique and special examination of how people, culture, and space intersect."
~Eileen White, Journal of Popular Culture
"Smoodin has a dazzling grasp of French film history and its political underpinnings, and thus he gives us an astute social and historical analysis of the formation of cultural identity through film and its audiences, and he does it in a disarmingly casual style."
~Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, Cineaste
“Relying primarily on magazines, newspapers, and movie listings, Smoodin offers a different approach to conceptualizing French cinema from the beginning of the spoken era until just after Liberation. . . . [Paris in the Dark] offers an engaging perspective on Parisian filmgoing habits of the era.”
~Alexander Hertich, The French Review
“Smoodin’s work is an inspiring model of historical exhibition study. Future scholarship would do well to return to this trove of newly digitized primary material to continue unspooling these golden threads.”
~Colleen Kennedy-Karpat, History
“[Paris in the Dark] takes the reader on a series of illuminating voyages through Parisian film culture in this eventful period. Despite its modest length, it covers considerable ground in hitherto largely uncharted territory.”
~Michael Witt, French Studies