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The curious influence of Oscar Wilde on Hollywood

After Wilde’s visit to the US in 1882, his philosophy of life became an inspiration to early filmmakers in their revolt against corporate America, Wall Street and provincial pettiness

23 March 2024

9:00 AM

23 March 2024

9:00 AM

Wilde in the Dream Factory: Decadence and the American Movies Kate Hext

OUP, pp.304, 25

The Importance of Being Earnest was NBC’s first coast-to-coast broadcast of a play in 1929. It was ideal for radio, partly because Oscar Wilde’s crisp dialogue obviated any need of facial expressions or gestures. Epigrammatic speech, as Noël Coward found, was a signifier of modernity in the 1920s. Beyond that, as Kate Hext shows, the America of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover had a sinewy and hardy sympathy for the Anglo-French fin-de-siècle literary mode of the 1890s known as Decadence.

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