Contemporary Conversations in Culture, Media and Society – ‘Exploiting around the Clock: Sam Katzman and the Genesis of the Rock ’n’ Roll Film’ with Yannis Tzioumakis (University of Liverpool)

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Contemporary Conversations in Culture, Media and Society
Exploiting around the Clock: Sam Katzman and the Genesis of the Rock ’n’ Roll Film

Featuring Yannis Tzioumakis (University of Liverpool).

This paper revisits the production history of the film Rock around the Clock (1956), with a view to shedding light on certain aspects of that history that have received little attention, but which reveal the ways in which exploitation filmmaking was practised by Sam Katzman. One of the most prolific producers in the history of American cinema, often referred to as ‘the king of exploitation cinema’, Katzman worked at a breakneck speed, which often allowed him to capitalise on trends and fads through the swift production of low-budget films that exploited their ephemeral visibility in popular culture. Rock around the Clock was arguably Katzman’s crowning achievement, not only because it proved a big box-office hit internationally but also because it launched a cycle of films that celebrated rock ’n’ roll music, while also targeting almost exclusively an emerging teen demographic, and therefore also becoming one of the prototypical teenpics of the 1950s.

Previous academic accounts have not always considered the role of established production practices in exploitation cinema. Neither have they accounted for the nature of the relationship between an exploitation production company and a major Hollywood distributor. In engaging with these and other, similar issues, the paper will not only provide a new production history of Rock around the Clock but also a nuanced understanding of exploitation film practices and the ways these are determined by the relationship between a producer and a distributor.

Yannis Tzioumakis is a Reader in Film and Media industries at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of six books, most recently Rock around the Clock: Exploitation, Youth Culture and the Origins of Rock ’n’ Roll (with Siân Lincoln), and co-editor of seven collections, most recently Indie TV: Industry, Aesthetics and Medium Specificity (with James Lyons). He is currently working on a book on the history of Hollywood runaway productions in Greece and co-authoring a volume on the history of Paramount (with Douglas Gomery and Clara Pafort-Overduin). Yannis also co-edits the Routledge Hollywood Centenary and the Cinema and Youth Cultures book series.

Contemporary Conversations in Culture, Media and Society – Exploiting around the Clock: Sam Katzman and the Genesis of the Rock ’n’ Roll Film with Yannis Tzioumakis

Thursday 07 April 2022, 1700-1900

Held online – if you’d like to come along please sign up on Eventbrite.

This presentation is part of the Contemporary Conversations in Culture, Media and Society seminars hosted by the Centre for Culture, Media & Society (CCMS). Based in the Culture & Creativity Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University, CCMS delivers critical insights and knowledge on a diversity of cultural, social and media practices. Find out more about seminars and other events hosted in the Research Institute on our CCRI Impact Blog.


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