The year 1955 was a watershed one for New York’s film industry: Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront took home eight Oscars, and, more quietly, Stanley Kubrick released the low-budget classic Killer’s Kiss. A wave of films that changed how American movies were made soon followed, led by directors such as Sidney Lumet, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. Yet this resurgence could not have occurred without a deeply rooted tradition of local film production.
Richard Koszarski chronicles the compelling and often surprising origins of New York’s postwar film renaissance, looking beyond such classics as Naked City, Kiss of Death, and Portrait of Jennie. He examines the social, cultural, and economic forces that shaped New York filmmaking, from city politics to union regulations, and shows how decades of low-budget independent production taught local filmmakers how to capture the city’s grit, liveliness, and allure. He reveals the importance of “race films”—all-Black productions intended for segregated African American audiences—that not only helped keep the film business afloat but also nurtured a core group of writers, directors, designers, and technicians. Detailed production histories of On the Waterfront and Killer’s Kiss—films that appear here in a completely new light—illustrate the distinctive characteristics of New York cinema.
Drawing on a vast array of research—including studio libraries, censorship records, union archives, and interviews with participants—“Keep ’Em in the East”rewrites a crucial chapter in the history of American cinema.
What reviewers are saying…
“This is the definitive history of New York filmmaking in the first half of the twentieth century—and this is no small story or accomplishment.”-Steven J. Ross / author of Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in Amer
“A perfect blend of Hollywood history, film analysis, and New York cultural history. Richard Koszarski is oneof the preemnient film historians of our time.”-Jeanine Basinger / chair of film studies, Wesleyan University
“Koszarski’s book is both industrial saga and film-buff opium den: Not only does he include all aspects of film production in New York, but also television. The author also writes with such fire and detail about all these films that you quickly forget most of them are either lost, incomplete, or difficult to see at best”-Philippe Garnier / LA Weekly
“This huge, richly detailed revisionist history of the relationship between Hollywood and New York City from the turn of the 20th century until WWII is an enormously important, ceaselessly eye-opening work of Gotham-based cultural anthropology and archaeology. This book gives back to New York a continuous history of invention and creativity that, without Koszarski’s Herculean labors, might have disappeared forever. Marvelous, invaluable, breathtaking film history.”-Directors Guild Quarterly
“Meticulously researched and richly detailed, this superb book documents film and, later, television production in the New York City area during the first half of the twentieth century. Koszarski covers every imaginable aspect of moving-image production of the East Coast during this period. The depth of the research is astounding. Koszarski brings to life a period when much of television, and even theatrical films, were centered in Manhattan to take advantage of the proximity of Broadway. A remarkable accomplishment and an indispensable, accessible guide to the period. Essential.”-Choice
“Koszarski offers a massive and intensely detailed study of New York-based filmmaking in the years between the world wars. Koszarski shows how New York-area filmmakers drew on a region chockablock with actors, directors, writers, artists, costumers, and other creative types.”-Chronicle of Higher Education
About the author:
Richard Koszarski is an associate professor of English and film studies at Rutgers University, and the editor-in-chief of Film History: An International Journal. His books include The Man You Loved to Hate: Erich von Stroheim and Hollywood and An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture.
Richard Koszarski is professor emeritus of English and Cinema Studies at Rutgers University. He was formerly a curator at the Museum of the Moving Image and is the founder and editor emeritus of Film History. His many books include Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff.