Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Vamos al cine: Film Exhibition and Moviegoing in El Paso, Texas, 1935–1955
by Ramirez, Javier, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 373; 27539690
Abstract (Summary)

Vamos al cine is a historical study that explores the ways American and Mexican film exhibitors individualized theatrical venues, localized movies, and negotiated the demands of a culturally, racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse audience in El Paso, Texas. The locality of El Paso, that is, its peripheral location on the US-Mexico border serves as a nodal point from which to reconsider how Hollywood and Mexican movies were packaged and promoted. At stake is foregrounding the moviegoing experiences of an all-too-often overlooked audience: Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Where and under what conditions Mexican and Mexican American moviegoers encountered motion pictures sheds new light, I argue, on what it meant to be Mexican and Mexican American during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema (1935–1955).

Critical to my investigation, in addition to commercial theatrical exhibition in El Paso, is exploring nontheatrical exhibition. On-base military theaters, Catholic churches, and schools exhibited some form of Hollywood or Mexican commercial entertainment. But their exhibition methods—however similar to conventional movie houses (first- and second-run cinemas)—speak to the importance of local and regional variation in the decision-making processes. Perhaps more importantly are the roles nontheatrical venues played in reaffirming and redefining local film distribution and exhibition strategies and cinemagoing practices.

Enmeshed in my historical study is the reconfiguration of film distribution, exhibition, and moviegoing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The period of study (1935–1955) not only attends to the borderland’s hybridity, whereby American and Mexican sociocultural processes mesh and overlap, but also challenges the US-Mexico border as a static, singular space of American superiority and Mexican dependency. In doing so, Vamos al cine demonstrates that the US-Mexico border is a valuable site for considering the linked history of region, race, and cinema.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Waller, Gregory A.
Commitee: Martin, Michael T., Nieto-Phillips, John, DeBoer, Stephanie, Serna, Laura Isabel
School: Indiana University
Department: Communication and Culture
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Film studies, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Film distribution, Film exhibition, Mexican American, Mexican cinema, Non-theatrical, US-Mexico Border, El Paso, Texas
Publication Number: 27539690
ISBN: 9781687980076
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