The Film Cheat

Professor Murra Pomerance


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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
15 October 2020
ISBN: 9781501364983
384 pages

From the publisher

Murray Pomerance, venerated film scholar, is the first to take on the 'cheat' in film, where 'cheating' constitutes a collection of production, performance, and structuring maneuvers intended to foster the impression of a screen reality that does not exist as presented. This usually calls for a suspension of disbelief in the viewer, but that rests on the assumption that disbelief is problematic for viewership, and that we must find some way to "suspend" or "disconnect" it in order to allow for the entertainment of the fiction in its own terms. The Film Cheat explores forty-five aspects of the 'cheat,' analyzing classic films such as Singin' in the Rain and Chinatown, to more contemporary films like The Revenant and Baby Driver, with Pomerance engaging his encyclopedic knowledge of film history to point out numerous instances of suspensions of disbeliefs. Whether or not Gene Kelly is actually dancin' in the rain, or if Elliott is really flying on his bicycle carrying E.T., these cheats are what make movie magic. Elegantly weaving the narrative for one to dip into at random or to read from cover to cover, Pomerance turns things upside down so that the audience actually finds pleasure in the cheat itself, pleasure in the disbelief. To see the elegant fake, the supremely accomplished simulacrum is a pleasure in its own right, indeed one of the fundamental pleasures of cinema.