American Cinema

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During World War II some of the best Americans directors in the US were recruited by the War Department, because films were needed to help raise the morale of servicemen. Among the best films of this war period were Frank Capras ''Why We Fight'' series (1942-45). Walt Disneys animated films; and documentaries about important battlers directed by Garson Kanin, John Huston, Billy Wilder. Orson Welless masterpiece ''Citizen Kane'' (1940) was the story of a newspaper tycoon. After the war high-quality films continued to pour out of the United States. They included Charlie Chaplins ''Limelight'' (1952), the fine Western Shane (1956), a drama of the New York docks called On The Waterfront (1954) and many high-spirited musicals of which An American In Paris (1951) was outstanding. Alfred Hitchcock made his best films during this period. ''Psycho'' with its famous murder-in-the-shower scene was probably the most successful. Despite these successes the great studios began to get into financial difficulties because of declining audiences.

However, the late 1960s saw a turning point in the American film industry with the release of a number of films appealing to the youth market, which drew enormous audiences. The most famous of these were Arthur Penns ''Bonnie and Clyde'' (1967) and Dennis Hoppers ''Easy Rider'' (1969). Realising that they could no longer rely on their traditional family audiences, film makers increasingly concentrated on films for the so-called teenage market, science fiction and fantasy blockbusters with computer enhanced special effects Dolby sound such as George Lucass ''Star Wars'' (1977) and Steven Spielbergs ''Raiders Of The Lost Ark'' (1981) became very popular.

Popcorn

Today Americans still continue the custom of eating popcorn at the movies. Americans use 500,000 pounds of popcorn every year. All corn does not pop. A seed or kernel of corn must have 14 percent water in it to pop. Other kinds of pop have less water and do not pop. When you put a kernel of corn on a fire, the water inside makes the corn explode. This makes a pop noise. That is why we called it popcorn. The American Indians popped corn a long time ago. The Indians knew there were three kinds of corn. There was sweet corn for eating, corn for animals, and corn for popping. The Indians introduced corn to the first settlers, or Pilgrims, when they come to America in 1620. One year after they came, the Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving dinner. They invited the Indians. The Indians brought food with them. One Indian brought popcorn. Since that time Americans continued to pop corn at home. But in 1945 there was a new machine that changed the history of popcorn. This electric machine popped corn outside the home. Soon movie theatres started to sell popcorn to make more money. Popcorn at the movies became more and more popular. Many people like to put salt and melted butter on their popcorn. Some people eat it without salt or butter. Either way - Americans love their popcorn!

The Oscar.

The Oscars are awarded every year by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. These statuettes are awarded to actors, film directors, screenwriters and so on for outstanding contributions to the film industry. The Oscars were first awarded in 1927. The first winners were chosen by five judges. Nowadays all of the members of the Academy vote. The ceremony is attended by most Hollywood stars, although some famous stars, such as Woody Allen, refuse to go, even if they win an award. The oldest winner of an Oscar was 80-year- old Jessica Tandy for her performance in the film Driving Miss Daisy in 1990. The youngest was Shirley Temple when she was only five years old. The statuette is of soldier standing on a reel of film. Nobody is really sure why it is called an Oscar, although some people say that it is because when the first statuette was made, a secretary said, It reminds me of Uncle Oscar!

: 15/02/2010