So how did the accent die? Thanks in part to these sharp-tongued headliners like Bogart, Americans began to see themselves better reflected in film. The Mid-Atlantic accent was very much in vogue until its abrupt decline post-World War II. Taught in finishing schools and society parlors, the accent had become common to off-screen America. But more people spoke as they do today, with regionally developed accents like Boston Brahmin or Locust Valley Lockjaw. The rejection of Mid-Atlantic was also a rejection of classicism. Highfalutin figures in American society who luxuriated in the vernacular were edged out by the everyman.
Another awesome Doctor Who trailer, with all the various references to the time war likely to have an impact on the 50th anniversary special. I don’t know or care if it’s real or fan-made.
I don’t necessarily blame Ford; if someone was willing to pay me tens of millions of dollars to wear a fedora and crack a whip for six months, I’d find the concept perfectly appropriate, too. But particularly after rewatching Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, I’m slightly mortified at the prospect of another Indiana Jones. Could it be good? Sure. But as Indy himself would probably tell you, the longer you trample through ancient ruins, the greater the risk of retribution from supernatural forces beyond human comprehension.
By employing directors with backgrounds in drama, the studios hope action-heavy films will be infused with greater depth. The catch, however, is that drama directors are usually inexperienced at, and thus incapable of, properly handling their material that is the film’s main selling point, or one of them.
The outcome isn’t pretty: action that gets the point across but lacks coherence, as well as the unique personality that the director was supposedly hired to provide.
What Coppola pursued, through that diptych’s performances, composition, and cinematography, was a sense of style at a time when it seemed superfluous. He lovingly recaptured a version of classic-age Hollywood elegance—a plausible reproduction of a material world and its social relationships, with a barely conspicuous yet severely crafted level of artifice. In those films, restraint in acting matches the understated exertion of power by the filmmakers who were confident in it. The tightly controlled camera work befits the exacting screenwriting, with its precise delivery of emotional content. And the meticulous lighting (I sometimes think that the cinematographer Gordon Willis, with his striking low-light effects, is the real auteur of the films) evokes a carefully calibrated mood. The consistency of tone—the sense of the movies being one mightily unified composition—is doubled by the taut-yet-unhurried economy of effect.
The paradox of Coppola’s pursuit of style is that it was designed for maximum legibility. (I use that word to evoke its dependence on the script, and its usefulness in conveying the script’s substance with a pellucid efficiency.) For all the director’s accomplishment, it’s an oddly self-effacing one.
The golden-age Hollywood style essentially depends on collectively acknowledged codes—on repression, omission, even censorship. The very nature of style is irony: a secret public confession of saying what one isn’t saying, of showing what one isn’t showing, of confiding publicly in sympathizers, and assuming that those who don’t see the style are complicit in the code of silence at which style is a sly wink. Style is a mark of savvy that creates its own secret inner circle, a dispersed and democratic aristocracy of taste.
There are obvious similarities, after all. Much like at Marvel in the late 1990s, a standardized “house style” now takes precedence over the individual styles of most of the creators working for DC, as Tim O’Neil points out, which has caused a whole bunch of those creators to leave, often very publicly; and rather than to try and win over new readers with attractive content, the publisher is gaming the market with storylines, gimmicks and variant editions aimed at hardcore collectors.
But there is another factor that tends to be overlooked.
Harras’s Marvel produced some sales spikes in the late 1990s with publishing events like “Heroes Return” and “Revolution,” but did not stop the general downward trend the company’s numbers (as everybody else’s) was caught in since 1995 — and, more importantly, failed to capitalize on early movie successes like Blade (1998) or X-Men(2000).
Harras’s DC, on the other hand, has managed to hang on to much-improved sales figures in the wake of the September 2011 “New 52″ relaunch. In the 22 months from September 2011 through June 2013, the average DC Universe comic book sold an estimated 39,500 units per month, and the monthly total number of DC Universe comic books sold was, on average, 2.54 million, for a monthly $8.38 million; in the 22 months before that, from November 2009 through August 2011, it was an estimated 31,700 units on average per month, and 1.78 million units total and $5.95 million per month on average.
In other words: Since the “New 52″ relaunch, there have been increases of 25% in average DC Universe unit sales, 43% in total DC Universe unit sales and 41% in total DC Universe dollar sales per month versus the same pre-relaunch period. When Harras was brought on as editor in chief in September 2010, it was presumably to prepare and carry out the “New 52″ relaunch. So it’s fair to say that this is his success.