PRINT February 1986


local technicolor.

MOVIE CINEMAS AND THE FILMS they bring to life are offspring of the metropolis. Their late-19th-century ancestors were comic/subversive variety theaters, circus sideshows, and the panoramas and perspectival dioramas of city, country, and foreign lands that amazed our grandparents with their deceptive realism. The urban masses were inquisitive, sentimental, easily scared, and endowed with vivid imaginations; the movies offered them faraway places close up, brought the past to the present, and transformed the familiar, the city, into something strange, a murky jungle of crime and passion. Whether as musical, adventure story Western, melodrama, or detective movie, film everywhere elaborated and perfected its genres, sacraments in the rituals that were performed in the secularized temple of the movie palace. In perfecting them, it turned them into myth.

This is mostly long past. The genres have

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