Tuesday 24 May 2016 – Lunchtime seminar with Dr Suzanne Speidel (Film Studies, SHU)

A black-and-white image of people outside of a theatre with a sign saying 'Lux Radio Theatre'

Title: Lux Presents Hollywood – films on the radio during the ‘golden age’ of broadcasting
Speaker: Dr Suzanne Speidel (Film Studies, SHU)

Dr Suzanne Speidel is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research interests include adaptation studies and contemporary American television. Her publications include articles and chapters in The Journal of Adaptation on Film and Performance, Joseph Conrad and the Performing Arts (Ashgate, 2009), Introduction to Film Studies, Jill Nelmes (ed.) (Routledge, 2007), The X-Files and Literature, Sharon Yang (ed.) (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007)), and the Routledge Companion to Adaptation, Dennis Cutchins, Katka Krebbs and Eckart Voight (eds.) (Routledge, forthcoming 2017).

This seminar will examine the long-running radio anthologies Lux Radio Theater (1934-1955) and the Screen Guild Theater (1939-1952; sponsored by a range of different products), which broadcast adaptations of Hollywood movies on the NBC and CBS networks during US radio’s ‘golden age.’ During this period radio ownership increased exponentially and the difficulty of how radio could be exploited commercially was solved by the devolution of programming to advertising agencies. Advertisers not only leased airtime and studio facilities from the radio networks, they also hired creative staff, such as writers, actors and producers, who became employees of specialist radio departments for agencies like JWT (the J. Walter Thompson Company, whose biggest client was Lever Brothers, the manufacturers of Lux soaps and detergents). Adaptation critics often cite commercial interests as a key motivation for adaptation, but this has seldom been more conspicuously evident than in these anthologies. Each episode unabashedly blended its source narrative with endorsements of soaps, face powders, cigarettes and gas stations, as well as with ‘movie news’ that used stars to promote both forthcoming feature films and the sponsors’ products. The resulting adaptations demonstrate the creative results of commercial exigencies and complex, industrial co-dependency (in which radio, film, magazines, stars, advertising agencies and ‘luxury,’ modern products all sustain, promote and profit from one another.)

In this seminar Suzanne will analyze in detail adaptations of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (which was adapted several times), whilst also drawing on a number of other episodes (such as reworkings of His Girl Friday and The Wizard of Oz). She will examine how the adaptations were shaped by the radio industry, its practices and technologies, how the anthologies influenced other radio programmes (for example, through their reliance on stars) and how they exemplify key debates within the study of cross-media adaptation.

1.00PM – 2.00PM

See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.