Cult Films


A film need not be offbeat, obscure, or low-budget to attain a cult following. On the contrary, a number of critically acclaimed movies have attained cult status precisely because their high quality and skillful performances, as well as their emotional power, have given them enduring appeal. These kinds of films are often described as "cult classics" because, while attracting a fiercely devoted band of followers, they are films that most mainstream audiences and critics have also praised and admired. Unlike ordinary cult movies, cult classics are often products of the big Hollywood studios, and most of them are made in the United States. Moreover, unlike many cult movies, cult classics are not weird, offbeat, or strange, but are often sentimental and heartwarming. They include such films as It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and The Wizard of Oz (1939). One of the most deeply loved of such films is Casablanca (1942), whose cult—or so legend has it—began in the early 1950s, when the Brattle Theater, adjoining Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, held a regular "Bogart week," purportedly because the theater's student clientele so closely identified with Bogart's sense of style. The series was shown around final exam time, to bring the students some needed late-night relief from the stress of their studies, and it culminated with a screening of Casablanca.

SEE ALSO B Movies ; Camp ; Fans and Fandom

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——. Hollywood Babylon II . New York: Dutton, 1984.

Brottman, Mikita. Hollywood Hex . London: Creation Books, 1999.

Everman, Welch. Cult Horror Films . New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.

Hoberman, J., and Jonathan Rosenbaum. Midnight Movies . New York: Harper and Row, 1983.

Jancovich, Mark, Antonio Lázarro Rebolli, and Andy Willis, eds. Defining Cult Movies: The Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste . Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003.

Mendik, Xavier, and Graeme Harper, eds. Unruly Pleasures: The Cult Film and Its Critics . Surrey, UK: Fab Press, 2000.

Peary, Danny. Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird, and the Wonderful . New York: Gramercy Books, 1998.

Sontag, Susan. "Notes on Camp." In Against Interpretation and Other Essays , 275–292. New York: Delta, 1966.

Stevenson, Jack. Land of a Thousand Balconies . Manchester, UK: Critical Vision, 2003.

Telotte, J. P., ed. The Cult Film Experience: Beyond All Reason . Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991.

Vale, V., and Andrea Juno, eds. Incredibly Strange Films . San Francisco: RE/Search Books, 1986.

Mikita Brottman

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