Mainstream maverick? John Hughes and new Hollywood cinema

Chard, Holly (2014) Mainstream maverick? John Hughes and new Hollywood cinema. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

My thesis explores debates on the commercial and textual priorities of New
Hollywood cinema through examination of the career of John Hughes. I argue that
scrutiny of Hughes’ career and the products associated with him expose the inadequacy of
established approaches to cinematic authorship and New Hollywood cinema. By mounting
a historically grounded investigation of Hughes’ career, his status within the cinema
industry, and his work as a commercially successful and agenda-setting filmmaker, I aim to
reevaluate existing perspectives on post-1970s mainstream popular U.S. media.

Drawing on an extensive array of previously unexamined primary materials, the
thesis focuses on Hughes’ shifting status as a “creative producer” within the U.S. film
industry, as well as on the construction of the John Hughes “brand” during the 1980s and
1990s. I explore how Hughes secured considerable industrial power by exploiting
opportunities presented by expanding ancillary markets and changing production agendas.
I argue that established models for conceptualising industrial trends, such as Justin Wyatt’s
“high concept”, fail to capture the complexities of Hollywood’s commercial strategies in
this period. I conclude that historical research can challenge previous assumptions and
contribute to a more detailed and precise understanding of the operations of the U.S. film
industry in this period.

By scrutinizing the films that Hughes wrote, produced and/or directed, I consider
how Hughes’ films are complexly determined industrial productions that are shaped both
by a set of radically fluctuating commercial imperatives, as well as by Hollywood’s
standardized formats and frameworks. The production of Hollywood cinema may be a
collaborative enterprise, but I argue that certain individuals and institutions can exert
greater control over aspects of the process.

In conclusion, I suggest that such a historical methodology can illuminate not just
the work of one particular filmmaker but can shed new light on the broader operations of
Hollywood as a commercial culture industry.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 11:52
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2017 09:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51552

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