The Evolution of an American Youth Culture
As the entertainment industries came to realize that a youth market existed, providers of music and movies began to create products specifically for them. While Big Beat music and exploitation films may have initially been targeted for a marginalized audience, during the following decade and a half, such offerings gradually become mainstream, even as the first generation of American teenagers came of age. As a result the so-called youth culture overtook and consumed the primary American culture, as records and films once considered revolutionary transformed into a nostalgia movement, and much of what had been thought of as radical came to be perceived as conservative in a drastically altered social context.
In this book Douglas Brode offers the first full analysis of how an American youth culture evolved.
Chapter 2. Shake, Rattle and Rock: The Big Beat on the Big Screen
← 20 | 21 → ·2·
SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROCK
The Big Beat on the Big Screen
“Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.It will never die.It’ll never go away,Though I don’t know why.”
—Danny (Rapp) and the Juniors, 1958
For teenagers who swarmed into theatres on March 21, 1956 to catch the first film specifically tailored for them, a sense of déjà vu set in as the opening credits rolled, accompanied by “Rock Around the Clock,” precisely as in Blackboard Jungle. What followed, though, disappointed the target audience: A conventional romance involving forty-ish band manager Steve Hollis (Johnny Johnston) and Corinne Talbot (Alix Talton), a mature musical agent. Together, Steve believes, they can propel Bill Haley and the Comets to superstardom. Cautious, she prefers to stick with fast-fading Big Bands. Melodramatic complications ensue as Steve falls in love with a dancer, Lisa (Lisa Gaye), whose wild gyrations accompany the band’s performances; Corinne, who covets Steve, seethes. As Lisa has just turned 22, there are no lead teen characters in what was over-hyped as the first 1950s Youth Film.
Reasons for this were multitude. Rock Around the Clock (Fred F. Sears) was the product of a major studio, Columbia. Headed up by Harry Cohn ← 21 | 22 → (1891–1958), released two years before his passing, here was an old man’s notion of what a youth-exploitation flick should be. Involved in the production of such important A-movies as Picnic (Joshua Logan,...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.