The Introduction to New American Cinema

The art of film making has been cherished throughout the world for decades. Certain genres and styles went through their phase in popularity until becoming a part of history. As the movie making business began to grow dramatically and a greater variety of films were produced, film associations began to become hesitant in what was appropriate for films. In 1930, a production code containing moral guidelines was implemented on films as a way to protect audiences from any impurities.  Such guidelines included pointed profanity, nudity, sexual situations, and murder. Films who did not meet code standards were dubbed not approved and had more difficulty with getting into local theaters.

The production code was strongly enforced for years, causing films to form a repetition and overall appearance of feel good films including musicals and romance films. During the 1950s, the production code slowly began losing its power, as more films were released into theaters that had slightly broken standards. At this same time, photos and videos of the Vietnam War were displayed to families in the United States on television exposing to citizens the truths and dangers going on in the world (Henderson). In 1966, Jack Valenti became the new head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). With this new position, Valenti saw the opportunity to reexamine and soon shut down the production code overall since it had begun to lose its purpose.

Due to the production code not allowing films to have their own style and content, films during the 1960s had become boring to audiences and appealed more to the older public. With the code now abolished, filmmakers had the opportunity to create their own style of films that would appeal to audiences, particularly younger generations. The goal was to bring back the popularity of films to the public and once again give rise to the magical experience that is attending a theater. At this time, the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers (SIMPP) voted on limiting the power of major film studios to control film distribution and presentation. They stopped major production studios from owning theaters and only displaying their films. This allowed smaller, more independent filmmakers the opportunity to compete in the film making industry.
Filmmakers wanted to bring the truth to films and create story lines that audiences could relate to. The target audience was young adults, and films made comments regarding social and political issues going on in their time allowing younger audiences more chances to relate to characters. Rather than sticking to established genres and editing techniques, directors aimed to capture the human drama of everyday life. This could mean following a mans daily life until he runs into a problem. This new movement in film became known as New American Cinema (also referred to as New Hollywood) beginning in  1964 and ending in 1982 when major blockbusters constantly filled theaters. The budget and promotion for blockbusters had increased dramatically and small directors could not compete.


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