Film and Theater / American Studies


Shared Pleasures
A History of Movie Presentation in the United States
Douglas Gomery
With a Foreword by David Bordwell

Winner of the 1993 Theatre Library Association Award

"No existing book covers the fascinating terrain this work surveys. Ambitiously conceived and prodigiously researched, Shared Pleasures should change the way motion picture exhibition in the U.S. is conceived by film scholars and industry analysts alike." —Charles Wolfe, University of California, Santa Barbara

"By studying film exhibition, Gomery shows how the Hollywood film industry adapted its business policies to diversity and change within American society.... Despite the book's concern for broad trends, it keeps firmly before us the concrete experience of moviegoing. Gomery initiates us into the training of ushers in picture palaces, the tactics of games and giveaways during the Depression, and the business logic of 1950s kiddie matinees. We even learn the history of popcorn."David Bordwell, from the foreword

Shared Pleasures presents the first comprehensive history of how Americans have watched their favorite movies. Douglas Gomery tells the complete story of the film exhibition business, from the humble nickelodeon to movie palaces to today's mass markets of cable TV and home video rentals. Along the way Gomery shows us how the American economy and society altered going to the movies.

Shared Pleasures answers such questions as: How and where have Americans gone to the movies? What factors prompted the growth of specialized theaters? To what extent have corporations controlled the means of moviegoing? How has television changed the watching of motion pictures? Gomery analyzes social, technological, and economic transformations inside and outside the movie industry-sound, color (and later, colorization), television movies, cable movie networks, and home video, as well as automobiles, air conditioning, and mass transit. He traces the effects of immigration, growing urban and suburban cultures, two world wars, racial and ethnic segregation, and the baby boom on the movie theater industry, noting such developments as newsreel theaters and art cinemas.

Gomery shows how the movie theater business has remained a profitable industry, transforming movie houses from storefronts to ornate movie palaces to the sticky-floored mall multiplexes of today. Contrary to some gloomy predictions, Gomery contends that movie watching is not declining as a form of entertainment. With the growth of cable TV, home movie rental, and other technical changes, more Americans are watching (and enjoying) more movies than ever before.

Douglas Gomery is professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Maryland and senior researcher at the Media Studies Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. He is the editor of High Sierra: Screenplay and Analysis, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press. His other books include The Hollywood Studio System, Movie History: A Survey, and four other books examining the economics and history of American media.


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Gomery's book is blue with a sepiatone image of a movie theater called Chicago

April 1992  
LC: 91-030618 PN
416 pp. 6 x 9
34 illus.
ISBN 0-299-13214-5 Paper $29.95 x

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