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Thomas Doherty

Thomas Doherty is a professor of American Studies at Brandeis University. He is an associate editor for the film magazine Cineaste and the author of Little Lindy Is Kidnapped: How the Media Covered the Crime of the Century.

More from Thomas Doherty

The Ruthless Rise and Fall of Paramount Pictures During Hollywood’s Golden Age

“I’ve seen Paris, France, and Paris, Paramount Pictures,” Ernst Lubitsch said, or so they say, “and on the whole I prefer Paris, Paramount Pictures.” The great director’s preference for the Hollywood city of lights over the French one expresses a common enough affinity for illusion over reality, but the studio in question was not chosen […]

‘Dr. Strangelove’ Was a Nightmare Comedy. Time Forgot the Nightmare Part

On Jan. 29, 1964, a triple premiere — in New York, London and Toronto — launched one of Stanley Kubrick’s signature masterpieces into the chilly Cold War atmosphere: Dr. Strangelove, with the marquee-challenging subtitle Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Kubrick described it as a “nightmare comedy.” Sixty years later, the […]

Was This Hollywood’s Worst Year Ever?

A favorite parlor game for film buffs is to pick Hollywood’s greatest year and then argue. The obvious answer — 1939, the certified Golden Year — always gets the most votes, but a few eccentrics make the case for a dark horse. 1928 was Peter Bogdanovich’s choice, the year that saw the apotheosis of silent film […]

The Pictures Not Seen in ‘Oppenheimer’

In the third act of Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb sits in a darkened hall and watches a slide show of what his gadget hath wrought at ground zero. From offscreen space, the lecturer clinically describes what we in the audience are spared from looking at.    The decision by director Christopher Nolan […]

When Will the Strikes End? Lessons From 1960

The “double strike” of 1960 — the last time the Writers Guild and SAG marched shoulder to shoulder in a labor action against the owners of the means of production and, crucially, distribution — is the clear precedent to the ongoing reboot. Yet while historians like to believe that the past is prologue, or at […]

The Last Time Actors and Writers Both Went on Strike: How Hollywood Ended the 1960 Crisis

In 1960, the crumbling infrastructure of the Hollywood studio system was shaken by a one-two strike launched by two essential branches of its workforce — the writers and the actors. Since neither job was yet considered on the cusp of obsolescence, management was forced to negotiate with labor and reach an accommodation. Both sides had […]

How the FBI Worked With Hollywood to Build the Crime Genre’s Early Years In Film and TV

Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is the latest turn in a long motion picture tradition of pilfering FBI case files for screen scenarios. Originally, Hollywood coveted the validation of the bureau (“based on actual FBI case histories!”) and the personal imprimatur of its lord high ruler, J. Edgar Hoover […]

A Eulogy for Netflix’s DVD-by-Mail Era

On April 18, Netflix announced that it was “sunsetting” — aka terminating — its material-world DVD rental option. The last picture show in the form of five-inch disks hand-delivered to your door in red envelopes will shut down on September 29, 2023. After 25 years of mail-order interface, “DVDs are done,” Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph declared, […]

Can Movie Theaters Survive? It’s the Most Enduring Question in Hollywood

The exhibition end of the motion picture business — where moviegoers go when they leave their domiciles and travel thorough geographical space for a communal, in-person experience before a big screen — is in trouble. Again.   Whether at the repertory house or the multiplex, box office has not yet rebounded from the one-two punch […]

Revisiting a Hollywood Crew’s Archival Effort to Use Film to Convict Nazis at Nuremberg

On November 20, 1945, in Nuremberg, Germany, once prime real estate for torchlit Nazi pageantry, currently reduced to ruins by Allied bombing, the International Military Tribunal, an unprecedented experiment in transnational jurisprudence, convened in the city’s Palace of Justice, one of the few buildings left standing. The four victorious powers — the United States, Great […]

Hollywood’s Messy Tradition of Newspaper Yarns

Based on New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s account of their harpooning of the powerhouse producer and loathsome sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, Maria Schrader’s She Said had a lot going for it: two congenial performers (Carey Mulligan as Twohey and Zoe Kazan as Kantor); a narrative fixation on the target of opportunity; […]

Unearthing a Forgotten Episode of Hollywood’s Blacklist Era, 75 Years Later

Seventy-five years ago, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC for purposes of pronunciation) launched the first of its series of postwar investigations into alleged communist subversion in Hollywood. The show trial was staged from Oct. 20 to 30, 1947, and you can probably rewind the newsreel images in your mind’s eye: the unhinged committee […]