Midnight Cowboy (BFI Film Classics)

(British Film Institute, 2024)

John Schlesinger’s 1969 drama, Midnight Cowboy, follows the story of naïve would-be hustler Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and ailing con man Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), set against the gritty backdrop of New York City in the late 1960s. The film received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, becoming the only X-rated film to the win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

James Kendrick argues that this film, more so than its notable contemporaries, captures the immense turmoil, change and revolution that was taking place both in Hollywood and in the larger American culture of the late 1960s. He explores the film’s production, reception, visual and thematic innovation, and cultural impact-not only its ground-breaking portrayal of sexuality and relationships, but also its exploration of themes of urban loneliness and socio-economic disparity.

Through close analysis of the film and examination of articles, press reports, interviews and reviews from the five decades following its release, Kendrick shows how Midnight Cowboy, with its mix of visual poetry, documentary-like realism, fragmentary flashbacks, and unvarnished depiction of desperate characters on the fringes of society, offers a unique focal point for the intersection of European art cinema and the new parameters of mainstream Hollywood at the end of the classic era.

Publication Date: October 2024

Softback and ebook

Publisher: British Film Institute / Bloomsbury Academic

Catalog page from the British Film Institute / Booomsbury

But it at Amazon!

A Companion to the Action Film

A Companion to the Action Film

(Wiley-Blackwell, 2019)

With 24 incisive, cutting-edge contributions from esteemed scholars and critics, A Companion to the Action Film provides an authoritative and in-depth guide to this internationally popular and wide-ranging genre. As the first major anthology on the action film in more than a decade, the volume offers insights into the genre’s historical development, explores its production techniques and visual poetics, and provides reflections on the numerous social, cultural, and political issues it embodies.

A Companion to the Action Film offers original research and critical analysis that examines the iconic characteristics of the genre, its visual aesthetics, and its narrative traits. It considers the impact of major directors and stars on the genre’s evolution, puts the action film in dialogue with various technologies and other forms of media, such as graphic novels and television, and maps out new avenues of critical study for the future. This important resource:

  • Offers a definitive guide to the action film
  • Contains insightful contributions from a wide range of international film experts and scholars
  • Reviews the evolution of the genre from the silent era to today’s age of digital blockbusters
  • Offers nuanced commentary and analysis of socio-cultural issues such as race, nationality, and gender in action films

Written for scholars, teachers and students in film studies, film theory, film history, genre studies, and popular culture, A Companion to the Action Film is an essential guide to one of international cinema’s most important, popular, and influential genres.

Publication Date: March 2019

Hardback and ebook

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

ISBN-10: 1119100496

Catalog Page From Wiley-Blackwell

Buy it at Amazon!

“Kendrick’s book is that rare thing: eminently readable, yet suitably academic.” — Adrian Schober, Senses of Cinema“Highly recommended.”—Allan Hirsh, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries“perceptively explores the ways that Spielberg has grappled in film with the nature of human suffering and with personal and historical trauma. Kendrick reveals a depth of complexity in the films that challenges the popular understanding of Spielberg as being mainly a director of popcorn movies.” –  Stephen Prince, Professor of Cinema Studies, Virginia Tech, and author of Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism“This is a necessary book – I would say indispensable to Spielberg studies. The book develops the current burgeoning critical mass of scholarly writings on Spielberg in new ways, and is a timely addition to the field.” –  Linda Ruth Williams, Professor of Film, University of Southampton

“an important, thought-provoking addition to the growing film studies scholarship devoted to Spielberg.” –  Warren Buckland, Reader in Film Studies, Oxford Brookes University, and author of Directed by Steven Spielberg

“In this lively, insightful, provocative study, Kendrick demolishes the conventional wisdom of Spielberg’s detractors, showing how ridiculously misguided many of them are, and challenges those of us who have written more favorably on this great director to reconsider or deepen our positions. A major advance in the field of Spielberg studies.” –  Joseph McBride, Professor of Cinema, San Francisco State University, and author of Steven Spielberg: A Biography

“Authoritative examination of a range of approaches, including biography and aesthetics, sociology of suburbia, narrative structure, and Jungian patterns, amounts to a provocation of Spielberg’s diehard critics…. highly recommended to readers within film and cultural studies and beyond. It digs out powerful evidence of filmmaking that is complex and knowing in its engagement with the full spectrum of experience.” –  Nigel Morris, Principal Lecturer in Media Theory, University of Lincoln, and author of The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light

Darkness in the Bliss-Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg

(Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)

While there has been a significant outpouring of scholarship on Steven Spielberg over the past decade, his films are still frequently discussed as being paternalistic, escapist, and reliant on uncomplicated emotions and complicated special effects. Even those critics and scholars who are favorable toward his work still tend to view it as essentially optimistic, reassuring, and conservative. James Kendrick takes an alternate view of Spielberg’s cinema and proposes that his films—even the most popular ones that seem to trade in easy answers and comforting, reassuring notions of cohesion and narrative resolution—are significantly darker and more emotionally and ideologically complex than they are routinely given credit for. Darkness in the Bliss-Out demonstrates, through close analysis of a wide range of Spielberg’s films, that they are only reassuring on the surface, and that their depths embody a complex and sometimes contradictory view of the human condition.

Publication Date: April 2014

Hardback and Paperback 6 x 9

Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

ISBN-10: 9781441146045

Catalog Page From Bloomsbury Publishing

Buy it at Amazon!

Review at Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (December 2014)

Review by Adrian Schober, Senses of Cinema (September 2014)

“The Darkness of Steven Spielberg”—Interview with Landon Palmer at Film School Rejects (November 2014)

film_violence_wallflower“Kendrick’s approach to screen violence emerges as a valuable contribution to the already extensive body of work on the topic.”—Craig Frost, Screening the Past“an important contribution to the endless debates about film violence…. Kendrick makes us look at the interwoven histories of filmmakers’ strategies of representation, the changing chatter of fears from critics and moralists, but also the historical circuits of real violence (wars, conflicts, social upheavals) to which the different traditions of films he studies are responding. This is a wide-ranging study of real force, challenging us to new and detailed work.”—Martin Barker, Aberystwyth University”Provides a thoughtful and knowledgeable overview of violent films and what their makers, viewers and critics have (had) to say about them, mapping out the dominant critical positions as well as illustrating (and complicating) them by looking at individual films…. The book deserves praise for its ability to grasp the fundamentals of its topic, just as the author does for getting them across with such clarity.”—Steffen Hantke, Sogang University

Film Violence: History, Ideology, Genre

(Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press, 2009)

A concise and accessible introduction to the role of violence from the silent era to the present, this volume illustrates the breadth and depth of screen bloodshed in historical, cultural, and industrial contexts. After considering problems of definition, the book offers a systematic history of film violence and examines three of the most popular violent genres: western, horror, and action. It concludes with a case study on the centrality of film violence to the directors of the New American Cinema, such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, with special emphasis on the films of Francis Ford Coppola, offering a strong example of how violence, history, ideology, and genre are deeply intertwined.

Publication Date: December 2009

Paperback 6 x 9, 144 pages

Publisher: Columbia University Press / Wallflower Press

ISBN-10: 1906660263 / ISBN-13: 978-1906660260

Review by Dejan Ognjanovic, Temple of the Ghoul (June 2012)

Review by Craig Frost in Screening the Past (Issue 30, 2011)

Review by Tony McKibbin in The List (April 16, 2010)

Catalog Page From Columbia University Press

Buy it at Amazon!

Hollywood Bloodshed Covernot only one of the best film books of the year, but also a superb piece of social commentary, a volume that ranks alongside Robin Wood’s Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan and Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Movie Wars as an all-time great study of the intersection between movies and the political climate they both reflect and influence.”—Jim Hemphill, American Cinematographeran exemplar of modern film criticism which integrates the careful analysis and theoretical knowledge expected of academics with the sense of immediacy and well-crafted writing required in popular writing“—Sarah Boslaugh, Southwest Journal of Cultures“an important addition to the growing literature on violence in American cinema…. a very well written analysis of how screen violence developed, and the controversies that incurred within that development during a much-undervalued decade of American film history.”—Ron Wilson, Quarterly Review of Film and Video“stands out … as a contribution to film studies with broad application…. could be a stimulating read even for film scholars not inclined toward cinema’s violent edges.”—Andrew Cooper, Post Script

Hollywood Bloodshed is a compelling and original book that will expand and update the available body of work on film violence and enrich the wider history of 1980s U.S. cinema.”—J. David Slocum, editor of Violence and American Cinema

Hollywood Bloodshed: Violence in 1980s American Cinema

(Southern Illinois University Press, 2009)

In Hollywood Bloodshed, James Kendrick presents a fascinating look into the political and ideological instabilities of the 1980s as seen through the lens of cinema violence. Kendrick uses in-depth case studies to reveal how dramatic changes in the film industry and its treatment of cinematic bloodshed during the Reagan era reflected shifting social tides as Hollywood struggled to find a balance between the lucrative necessity of screen violence and the rising surge of conservatism. As public opinion shifted toward the right and increasing emphasis was placed on issues such as family values and “money culture” film executives were faced with an epic dilemma: the violent aspects of cinema that had been the studios’ bread and butter were now almost universally rejected by mainstream audiences. Far from eliminating screen bloodshed altogether, studios found new ways of packaging violence that would allow them to continue to attract audiences without risking public outcry, ushering in a period of major transition in the film industry. The 1980s would see the ascent of entertainment conglomerates and powerful producers and the meteoric rise of the blockbuster—a film with no less violence than its earlier counterparts, but with action-oriented thrills rather than more troubling images of brutality.

Publication Date: April 6, 2009

Paperback 6 x 9, 304 pages, 20 illus.

Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press

ISBN-10: 0809328887 / ISBN-13: 978-0809328888

Review by L. Andrew Cooper in Post Script (Vol. 29, No. 1, 2010)

Review by Ron Wilson in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (Vol. 27, No.1, 2010)

Review by Sarah Boslaugh in Southwest Journal of Cultures (August 2009)

Review by filmmaker/critic Jim Hemphill in American Cinematographer (July 2009)

“James Kendrick: There Will Be Blood”—Interview by Phil Hall at Film Threat (6/28/2009)

Catalog page from Southern Illinois University Press

Buy it at Amazon!