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The first filmed prizefight, Veriscope's Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (1897) became one of cinema's first major attractions, ushering in an era in which hugely successful boxing films helped transform a stigmatized sport into legitimate entertainment. Exploring a significant and fascinating period in the development of modern sports and media, Fight Pictures is the first work to chronicle the mostly forgotten story of how legitimate bouts, fake fights, comic sparring matches, and more came to silent-era screens and became part of American popular culture.
Dan Streible is Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University and Associate Director of its Moving Image Archiving and Preservation master's program. He is also director of the Orphan Film Symposium.
"This compelling book forces us to rethink the history of cinema. Dan Streible's thought-provoking rediscovery of an entire lost genre of hundreds of early films reminds us how much we still do not know about the development of American movie culture. The fact that only a fraction of these forgotten films survive, and those mostly in fragments, makes this historical account of them all the more valuable."—Martin Scorsese
"Men in skimpy clothing engaged in the manly art of beating on each other became the cinema's very first movie stars. With masterful historical research in both film and sport history, Dan Streible's book provides the definitive account of the complex fascination these first films exerted, as prizefighting collided with early cinema and staged new battles over gender, race and class."—Tom Gunning, author of D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film, and The Films of Fritz Lang
"'Sporting' men and curious women, slumming elites and working-class laborers, nativists and European immigrants, Great White Hopes and insurgent African Americans—Dan Streible's meticulous research brings to life the dynamic, overlapping, and often contentious public spheres that fight films pull into focus. Written in smart and straightforward prose, Fight Pictures combines new critical insights about early cinema's aesthetics of display and struggles for cultural legitimacy with the social histories of boxing and American modernity.”—Jacqueline Stewart, author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity
Shortlist of the And/Or Book Awards, Kraszna-Krausz Foundation