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Showman of the ScreenJoseph E. Levine and His Revolutions in Film Promotion$
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A. T. McKenna

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168715

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168715.001.0001

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The Showman in the Art House

The Showman in the Art House

(p.63) 5 The Showman in the Art House
Showman of the Screen

A. T. McKenna

University Press of Kentucky

Having achieved fame as America’s foremost purveyor of low culture, Levine began dealing in arthouse cinema at a national level—a field of endeavor that many felt he was unsuited for. This chapter focuses on Levine’s packaging of arthouse cinema for American audiences in the early 1960s and on the criticisms occasioned by critics and commentators, who accused Levine of being an interloper and dilettante. The chapter shows how, with the questioning of the concept of “high culture” at this time, cultural gatekeepers and elites sought to fortify their positions and to exert an even greater authority over movie culture. Levine was an ideal target for critics such as Dwight Macdonald and Bosley Crowther, but this chapter argues that their criticisms actually worked in Levine’s favor by portraying him as the maverick outsider that he portrayed himself to be. The chapter also investigates accusations that Levine was seeking critical redemption and an improved public image through his dealings in art cinema—accusations that were never true but were directed at him for the remainder of his career.

Keywords:   arthouse film, taste cultures, cultural elites, film importing, auteur theory, portmanteau film, Two Women, , Long Day’s Journey into Night

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