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“Hollywood’s Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected American Power Around the World,” Presented via New Canaan Library Webinar

March 24, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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In art and entertainment, sometimes the frame, or the venue, is as impactful as what it presents. Such was the case with lavish American movie theaters of the early to mid-20th century, which seduced audiences around the world with not only Hollywood films, but with lavish movie theaters owned and operated by the major American film companies.

New Canaan Library is pleased to welcome Professor Ross Melnick, University of California, Santa Barbara, as he speaks about the cultural impacts, both positive and negative, that American films and the impressive theaters they were shown in had around the globe. The live webinar will take place on Thursday, March 24 at 7 PM EST; register at newcanaanlibrary.org for Zoom sign in.

In a history that stretches from Buenos Aires and Tokyo to Johannesburg and Cairo, Professor Melnick considers these movie houses as cultural embassies. Aimed at providing a quintessentially “American” experience, these theaters were outfitted with American technology and accoutrements, which allowed local audiences to watch American films in an American-owned cinema in a distinctly American way. In his book, Hollywood Embassies, (April 2022 publication) Melnick demonstrates that while Hollywood’s marketing of luxury and consumption often struck a chord with local audiences, it was also frequently tone-deaf to new social, cultural, racial, and political movements.

Ross Melnick is professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908–1935 (Columbia, 2012) and coeditor of Rediscovering U.S. Newsfilm: Cinema, Television, and the Archive (2018).


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