It's So French!
Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture
Hollywood was once enamored with everything French and this infatuation blossomed in a wildly popular series of films including An American in Paris, Gigi, and Funny Face. Schwartz here examines the visual appeal of such films, and then broadens her analysis to explore their production and distribution, probing the profitable influences that Hollywood and Paris exerted on each other. This exchange moved beyond individual films with the sensational spectacle of the Cannes Film Festival and the meteoric career of Brigitte Bardot. And in turn, their success led to a new kind of film that celebrated internationalism and cultural hybridity. Ultimately, Schwartz uncovers an intriguing paradox: that the road to globalization was paved with nationalist clichés, and thus, films beloved for being so French were in fact the first signs of a nascent cosmopolitan culture.
Packed with an array of colorful film stills, publicity photographs, paparazzi shots, ads, and never before seen archival images, It’s So French! is an incisive account of the fertile collaboration between France and the United States that expanded the geographic horizons of both filmmaking and filmgoing, forever changing what the world saw and dreamed of when they went to the movies.
1. THE BELLE EPOQUE THAT NEVER ENDED
Frenchness and the Can-Can Film of the 1950s
2. THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AND THE MARKETING OF COSMOPOLITANISM
3. AND FRANCE CREATED BARDOT
4. THE COSMOPOLITAN FILM
From Around the World in Eighty Days to Making Movies Around the World
“It is difficult to say whether Vanessa Schwartz’s work provides more brilliant analyses and stimulating perspectives to the history of culture or to the history of the cinema. Undoubtedly to both, since the connections she makes between filmmaking and the creation of urban imaginaires are original and convincing. Neither Hollywood, obviously, nor Paris, as well, would exist without films, at least in our thoughts and desires, and Vanessa Schwartz shows this masterfully. ‘So French!’—perhaps, but so well done—absolutely!”
“This is a must-read for anyone interested in movies, the irresistible appeal of things French, or the true history of globalization. Every page sparkles with surprising insights and wonderful stories about classic films, the Cannes film festival, and the making of a global market for cinema. Old Europe turns out to be the partner, not the enemy, of the brash moguls and dreamy-eyed starlets of Hollywood. Schwartz takes readers on her own dazzling tour around the world of making movies and in the process deeply enriches both our sense of cinema’s history and its contribution to modern culture.”
“In a scholarly tour de force, Vanessa Schwartz reveals how a series of Franco-American liaisons created the global film industry. This is one of the most perceptive histories ever written about the making of mass culture—and a pleasure to read.”
“Hers is no sterile school-book approach. . . . Schwartz’s well-researched book expertly documents this profound event in the development of cosmopolitan film culture as we know it today. Recommended.”
“Original in its argument as well as in its research, It’s So French! offers a compelling counterargument to the common claim that cinema was a major component in the Americanization of postwar culture worldwide, including France. Instead, Vanessa Schwartz argues that together French and American film culture played a significant role in globalizing a cosmopolitan culture in the 1950s and early 1960s.”
Society for French Historical Studies: Gilbert Chinard Prize