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The Fun Factory

The Keystone Film Company and the Emergence of Mass Culture

Robert King (Author)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 376 pages
ISBN: 9780520255388
December 2008
$31.95, £21.95
From its founding in 1912, the short-lived Keystone Film Company—home of the frantic, bumbling Kops and Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties—made an indelible mark on American popular culture with its high-energy comic shorts. Even as Keystone brought "lowbrow" comic traditions to the screen, the studio played a key role in reformulating those traditions for a new, cross-class audience. In The Fun Factory, Rob King explores the dimensions of that process, arguing for a new understanding of working-class cultural practices within early cinematic mass culture. He shows how Keystone fashioned a style of film comedy from the roughhouse humor of cheap theater, pioneering modes of representation that satirized film industry attempts at uplift. Interdisciplinary in its approach, The Fun Factory offers a unique studio history that views the changing politics of early film culture through the sociology of laughter.
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction

PART I: “SATIRE IN OVERALLS”: THE KEYSTONE FILM COMPANY AND POPULAR CULTURE
1. “The Fun Factory”: Class, Comedy, and Popular Culture, 1912-1914
2. “Funny Germans” and “Funny Drunks”: Clowns, Class, and Ethnicity at Keystone, 1913-1915
3. “The Impossible Attained!” Tillie's Punctured Romance and the Challenge of Feature-Length Slapstick, 1914-1915

PART II: “MORE CLEVER AND LESS VULGAR”: THE KEYSTONE FILM COMPANY AND MASS CULTURE
4. “Made for the Masses with an Appeal to the Classes”: Keystone, the Triangle Film Corporation, and the Failure of Highbrow Film Culture, 1915-1917
5. “Uproarious Inventions”: Keystone, Modernity, and the Machine, 1915-1917
6. From “Diving Venus” to “Bathing Beauties”: Reification and Feminine Spectacle, 1916-1917

Conclusion
Notes
Filmography
Index
Rob King is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and History at the University of Toronto.
“A searching and briskly authoritative history.”—National Post
“[An] ambitious and innovative study [and] an important contribution. . . . A wonderful analysis of the historical and cultural complexity of this key moment of modernity and one of its major industries. [It] should be compulsory to all scholars in the field.”—Leonardo Reviews
“King goes well-beyond the hagiography of most writing on the Keystone Company and its famous comics to demonstrate the company’s importance for history beyond the artistic merits of its individual performers. . . . Essential reading for all those film historians not necessarily interested in slapstick comedy.”—Screening The Past
“This studio history, where bumbling Kops, funny drunks, slapstick humor, and bathing beauties reigned, offers insights on the politics of early filmmaking through the sociology of laughter.”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly
“Carefully argued and exhaustively researched. [A] fascinating social history (a good, good read) [that] can help convince the skeptical or the uninitiated that seeking out books in this field can enjoyably deepen one's understanding of the fascinating history of America.”—Smile Politely
“Unique.”—Interaction / Bms Book News

Richard Wall Memorial Award 2010 Special Jury Prize Winner, Theatre Library Association

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