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Film Mavericks in Action

New Hollywood, New Rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke

Alan Taylor

The book’s ambition is to uniquely yoke familiar histories of New Hollywood with aspects of critical theory that, since the 1950s, have embraced advances in the New Rhetoric as pioneered by literary theorist, philosopher, social analyst and educator Kenneth Burke (1897–1993). The study tracks the career arcs of Hollywood film directors Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola whose productions are regarded as Burkean perspectives by incongruity. This analysis is contextualized within an overview that, from the 1920s to the present, considers Hollywood as a "languaged industry" that is grounded in Burkean principles of Order, identification, hierarchy, courtship and ambiguities of substance. The project is designed to serve the interests of colleagues and students in Rhetorical Theory, Film Education, Creative Writing, American Studies, Production Studies, and Film and Media Studies.

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6. Francis Coppola and the Persistence of Preoccupations


When Francis was nine, he was stricken with polio, and the disease left him paralyzed for a year in his left leg, arm, and side and in his entire back… “I had a Jerry Mahoney puppet that I could make talk and sing, and I had a tape recorder, a record player, and other equipment that I could use to make up shows with. I am sure that from those shows came the idea of my studio – a place where we could work together like children, with music, puppets, scenery, lights, dramatic action, whatever we wanted to do” (Phillips and Hill, 2004, p. 71).

His voice was amplified over a public address system, as if he were Jupiter on Mount Olympus or The Wizard of Oz. Garr herself felt somewhat uneasy with a “remote control” director: “We couldn’t talk back to him. We just listened and took direction. We felt like puppets” (Phillips, 2004, p. 189).

“Goethe would have been a great filmmaker because he was both a scientist and a poet…a playwright, and a child of the theatre…and a puppeteer as a child” (Coppola in, 9/6/2015).

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