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Luxurious cinemites and the Great Depression: labour, stardom and stand-in (1937)

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 23:44 authored by Frank Krutnik
Unlike more celebrated Hollywood-on-Hollywood films, Walter Wanger’s neglected screwball comedy Stand-In (1937) emphasizes the centrality of labour to studio-era production. Besides climaxing with a highly unusual, if carefully negotiated spectacle of industrial action by Hollywood’s rank and file workers, the film departs further from other self-reflexive movies by defining stardom in relation to labour and gender and by focusing on the topical and contentious issues of star salaries and child stardom (via a highly topical parody of Shirley Temple). With the aid of a wide array of primary and secondary materials – including newspapers and magazines, the entertainment trade press, and documents of the Production Code Administration – as well as detailed textual scrutiny, this essay examines Stand-In’s depiction of Hollywood and labour in relation to the economic, industrial and social challenges the Great Depression posed to studio production. The article proposes that the film’s comic framework allows it to deliver an uncommonly upfront, if conflicted critique of the contemporary motion picture business.


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  • Published

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Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television




Taylor & Francis

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  • Media and Film Publications

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