Cinema in Turkey meant mostly European and American films until 1948, when the 75 percent municipal tax on exhibition was reduced to 25 percent for indigenous films. After this tax break, which would be the only state support for film until the mid-1980s, an indigenous film industry based on private capital and enterprise began to take shape in Yesilcam Street of Beyoglu, Istanbul. With the rapid increase in the number of film companies, domestic films, movie theaters, and audiences, cinema ceased to be an elitist activity in big cities and became a popular entertainment spreading to even the small villages in Anatolia by the 1950s.

Yesilcam, which soon became the little Hollywood of Turkey with its own genres and star system, enjoyed its heyday between 1965 and 1975, with a yearly production of two hundred to three hundred films. In 1966 Turkey was fourth, just behind India, in world film production, with 238 films. Many of these were moralistic melodramas focusing on the theme of modernization and the relationships between heterosexual couples from different social and economic classes, which affirmed traditional gender roles and social values against "degenerate" modern lifestyles: Surtuk (Streetwalker, 1965), Karagozlum (My Dark Eyed One, 1967), Ask Mabudesi (Love Goddess, 1969). Also popular were serial comedies: Hababam Sinifi (Class of Hababam, 1975–1978), Turist Omer ( Omer the Tourist , 1964–1973), Tosun Pasa (Tosun Pasha, 1976), Kapicilar Kirali (The King of Doorkeepers, 1976); historical action and adventure serials and films: Kara Murat (Karamurat, 1972–1978), Malkocoglu (1966–1971), Adsiz Cengaver (The Warrior Without a Name, 1970); and detective and gangster films: Cingoz Recai (Recai the Shrewd, 1969), Vur Vur Kac Kac (Hit Hit Run Run, 1972), Umutsuzlar ( The Hopeless Ones , 1971).

The expansion of television beginning in 1968, as well as increasing social chaos and political violence, brought an enormous reduction in movie attendance, causing a crisis in Yesilcam towards the end of the 1970s. Because of that development, coupled with the indifference of the state, whose interest in cinema was limited to censorship until the mid-1980s, production fell to only sixty-eight films in 1980. "Sex films" that imitated Italian erotic comedies, and "arabesque films," which featured popular arabesque singers—the voices of migrants from rural areas to big cities—were the two major trends during the crisis that lasted from the end of the 1970s through the 1980s.

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