UC Press title The Fun Factory: The Keystone Film Company and the Emergence of Mass Culture has recently been recognized by the Theatre Library Association with the Richard Wall Memorial Award Special Jury Prize. The award, named for a longtime member of the association, honors scholarship in the field of recorded performance.
In The Fun Factory, Rob King argues 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. King is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and History at the University of Toronto.
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. Wall juror Charlotte Cubbage noted King’s “scholarly responses to popular entertainment of the time period,” calling his work “an in-depth and convincing analysis.”
In addition to King, UC Press author Mark Vieira was selected as a finalist for the Wall award for his work, Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince. Known as Hollywood’s “Boy Wonder,” Thalberg created classics such as Ben-Hur, Tarzan the Ape Man, Grand Hotel, Freaks, Mutiny on the Bounty, and The Good Earth, but died tragically at thirty-seven. In this definitive biography, Vieira uses unpublished production files, financial records, and correspondence to confirm the genius of Thalberg’s methods.
Vieira is a photographer, filmmaker, and Hollywood historian. His previous books include “Hurrell’s Hollywood Portraits” and “Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy”.
The Theatre Library Association, which granted the awards, was founded in 1937 to support librarians and archivists who work with theater and performance art-related collections. The association aims to enhance research, live performance and scholarly communication.
Mark A. Vieira was interviewed on KPCC’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle in January.