Reviews & Comments

‘For a fine book that explores the work of the left-wing filmmakers in Hollywood, though the crisis of identity and the new culture of anxiety are not his main concerns, see Brian Neve, Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition (London: Routledge, 1992). May comments further on the early dominance of academic approaches that saw film as either apolitical or as serving ‘the conservative function of saving capitalism’. May: ‘A welcome exception to these trends can be found in two books’ (including Neve (1992)).

Lary May, Professor of American Studies, University of Minnesota, The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 302, 332.

‘Neve’s account is judicious and grounded in evidence – he cites contemporary sources and participants as well as the ideas of subsequent writers on film noir. Precisely because of this, he is careful to avoid arguing either that liberal and left wing concerns were restricted to noirs, or that noir itself was an ideologically uniform phenomenon.’

Steve Neale, Professor of Film, Exeter University, in Genre and Hollywood (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 159.

On work on the practice of politically resonant film-making in this era: ‘Easily the best of the full length treatments is Brian Neve, Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition.’

Paul Buhle, Director of the Oral History of the American Left, New York University, ‘The Hollywood Left: Aesthetics and Politics’, New Left Review, 212, 1995, p. 104.

‘What is most distinctive about Neve’s book is his discussion of how radical writers and directors informed a number of films from the late thirties through the war and early post-war years with a touch of left critique.’ Neve has written a consistently intelligent, informative book about a subject where the film’s text is usually sacrificed to the critic’s intellectual inventiveness or the ideological imperatives of his perspective.’

Leonard Quart, Professor of Cinema Studies, City University of New York Graduate School, Film Quarterly, 1993/94.

‘In this sharp and exceptionally well-researched new book The Cinema of an American Outsider, Brian Neve expertly navigates the treacherous waters of “Kazan studies”.’

Kent Jones, Sight & Sound, 19, 5, (May 2009), p. 93.

‘The two most recent additions to the already voluminous Kazan literature are of considerable value … Neve’s political sophistication enriches the inevitable chapter on Kazan and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Neve’s social concerns do not come at the expense of aesthetics.’

Dan Georgakas, Cineaste, Winter 2009, pp. 77-78.

‘It’s thoroughly researched and makes judicious use of previous scholarship on Kazan, of Kazan’s own writings and interviews, and of a wide range of archival material, not least the Kazan papers at Wesleyan University and the information on the Production Code Administration in the Margaret Herrick Library. Neve is also insightful on the evolution of Kazan’s political views.’

Charles Maland, Professor of English, University of Tennessee, Film Quarterly, LXII/4 (2009), pp. 86-87.

It is a commonplace to say that we need to remember the dark days of our own history so that we don’t repeat it. Reading the book from cover to cover …. is a valuable experience not just of discovery but of remembering’.

Joanna E. Rapf, University of Oklahoma, in Film Quarterly (on UnAmerican Hollywood”, 2007).

‘I read with great interest your review of both On Directing and Brian Neve’s Elia Kazan: the Cinema of an American Outsider, two books to be recommended for a better knowledge of the director …’

Michel Ciment, Editor-in-Chief, Positif, letter to Cineaste, 32/2, Spring 2010, p. 8.

‘Most employ primary sources effectively to provide deep context for their topics. Particularly imaginative are Jeff Smith’s detailed study of The Robe (1953) as allegory, Brian Neve’s work on Robert Rossen …. All offer rich insight on the impact of the cultural environment on the films crafted by the Hollywood left.

James J. Lorence, University of Wisconsin, The Journal of American History, 95/2, (2008), pp. 591-92, (on UnAmerican Hollywood”, 2007).

‘This book is exhaustively researched. It validates Robert Stam’s insistence on the value of archival materials. When Neve ‘examines the director’s role as part of the changing process of filmmaking’, he does not rely on argument. His conclusions are supported by extensive primary source materials. This effort yields many insights and opens directions for future research. It may prove exceptionally useful for understanding how directing is impacted by new business models of development, production, promotion and distribution.

Mildred Lewis, Chapman University, USA., Scope: an online journal of film and television studies, 20 (2011) (on Elia Kazan: The Cinema of an American Outsider).

‘There are a number of excellent histories of ‘political films’ in America – Brian Neve’s breakthrough study Film and Politics in America remains the finest of them.’

Richard Rushton, The Politics of Hollywood Cinema (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), p. 2.

‘We have a privileged insight into Endfield’s political thinking during this period – intuitive, compassionate and sceptical – thanks to his ongoing correspondence with (Paul) Jarrico, detailed in a superb biography by Brian Neve.’

Nick Pinkerton, Artforum, November 20, 2015 <>

‘Nonetheless, the Endfield who Neve presents in his extremely well-researched book is rather more than the down-to-earth populist to Losey’s self-conscious artist.’

Robert Murphy, Journal of British Cinema and Television, vol. 13, issue 1 (January 2016), pp. 152-55.

‘I found surprisingly useful essays, too, in a twenty-year-old anthology, Philip Davies and Brian Neve’s Cinema, Politics and Society in America.’

B. Ruby Rich, ‘After the Fall: Cinema Studies Post 9/11’, Cinema Journal, 43: 2 (2004), 113.

‘Elia Kazan’s reputation has been kicked around – since his controversial Life Achievement Award at the 1999 Academy Awards and his obituaries four years later – in ways that have seriously obscured an understanding of his work as a film-maker. Brian Neve’s book, by judicious use of archive material (notebooks, letters, scripts) and careful analysis of the films themselves as well as their critical afterlife, at last sets the record straight. The book’s sensitive treatment of the HUAC hearings of 1952, and well-informed analysis of such key films as Viva Zapata, On the Waterfront, Baby Doll and the underrated The Arrangement, amount to a major critical achievement. Elia Kazan: The Cinema of An American Outsider is less interested in settling old scores than in taking the work of this deep-thinking, driven artist – who made one big mistake in April 1952 – as seriously as it deserves.’

Christopher Frayling, book jacket, Elia Kazan: The Cinema of an American Outsider.