Stepping through the Silver Screen

Australian Women Encounter America, 1930s-1950s

in Journeys
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During the mid-twentieth century, Hollywood cinema exerted a powerful influence upon Australian imaginings of the United States. In contrast to the flood of information moving between the Antipodes and Britain, America was relatively unknown, with little aside from film reels making the journey across the Pacific. This article examines how saturation in Hollywood imagery mediated the travel experience of Australian women who stepped through the silver screen and visited America itself. The writings of female transpacific travelers are peppered with references to Hollywood, which is cited as a source of crude preconceptions about America, and also appears as a point of comparison to the author’s own experience. Yet these texts almost never refer to specific films or actors, and instead use Hollywood as a shorthand to denote glamour, affluence, and urban living. The article suggests, therefore, that travelers’ discussions of “Hollywood” were often concerned less with American film than American modernity, and therefore also provide insight into Australian attitudes towards the modern.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing