What price Hollywood? Producing and consuming cultural myth and cinematic landscape in Los Angeles

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Steven Cohan


Hollywood, Cultural myth, Los Angeles, California, Urban space, Film

Subject Categories

American Film Studies | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Urban Studies and Planning


For almost a century, motion picture production in the US has been concentrated in or near Los Angeles. The imagery, cultural fictions and social values produced by the film industry are commonly organized around the polysemous cultural signifier 'Hollywood.' Moreover, these images, fictions and values are frequently translated into L.A.'s landscape, where they become part of a circular, self-reproducing process of representation and reification that binds the city to the cinema in southern California.

As its title indicates, What Price Hollywood? Producing and Consuming Cultural Myth and Cinematic Landscape in Los Angeles is centrally concerned with assessing the costs--cultural-historical, material and ideological--associated with Hollywood film's impact on L.A.'s public image and built environment. It begins from the premise that Hollywood film has created not only a cultural mythology for Los Angeles, but a landscape where that mythology is regularly enacted, inscribed and consumed. This landscape also reveals how popular films and entertainment sites variously construct, contain, negotiate and disavow 'othered' spaces and subjectivities. For every L.A. space or story Hollywood film glamorizes or helps materialize, countless others endure a two-pronged attack of systematic under-investment in the community, and either unrelenting marginalization or outright erasure on the screen.

Situated at the intersection of film studies, cultural studies and urban studies, and drawing on a range of texts--films from the 1920s through the 1990s, film shorts, tourist brochures, television and local news outlets, local exhibition practices, city development plans and architectural records--the dissertation investigates the influence of film production and consumption on race relations, urban planning and redevelopment, the built environment and architectural style in Los Angeles. In order to map these processes, separate chapters are organized around key historical moments when the collusion between the film industry and the city assumed a specific spatial dimension: the formation and thematization of Hollywood Boulevard during the industry's "Golden Age," the recuperation of Downtown and concomitant reconstruction of L.A.'s city-myth by classic film noir , and the translation of these two intertwining cinematic histories into the city's postmodern consumer and entertainment landscape, notably, Universal's CityWalk and the Hollywood Redevelopment Project.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.