The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has named Harlow Robinson, Matthews Distinguished University Professor in the department of history and in the program in cinema studies at Northeastern, a 2009 Academy Film Scholar. The award will enable Robinson to conduct research and write a book on the famed Oscar-winning director Lewis Milestone, best known for films such as the original “Ocean’s Eleven” (1960); Best Motion Picture nominees “The Front Page” (1931), “Of Mice and Men” (1939), and “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962); and Best Motion Picture winner “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930). Robinson was awarded a $25,000 grant based on his manuscript proposal.
The Academy Film Scholars program was established in 1999 to stimulate and support new and significant works of film scholarship. Each year, two established scholars, writers, or historians are awarded $25,000 each to research cultural, educational, historical, theoretical, and scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures.
“Although Milestone is generally recognized by film historians and critics as one of the major directors of the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood,’ his career has received scant scholarly attention,” said Robinson.
“Yet Milestone was one of the most consistent and productive craftsmen among directors of his era and completed 38 films over a period of 37 years,” he continued. “During this time, the technical possibilities of film underwent unprecedented change and development, from silent to sound and from black-and-white to color.”
He also noted that the highly successful remake of Milestone’s film “Ocean’s Eleven” and two sequels directed by Steven Soderbergh, whom Robinson plans to interview, have inspired renewed interest in Milestone’s movies.
“Only a single, slim volume long out of print has been published on the life and work of Milestone, and it appeared nearly 30 years ago. Since then, his films have come in for reassessment. The grant from the Academy will enable me to conduct additional research and interviews with film directors, historians, and critics,” he added.
Peter Decherney, professor of cinema studies and English at the University of Pennsylvania, was also recognized as a 2009 Academy Film Scholar for his research on Hollywood copyright debates. This is the 10th pair of scholars to receive such recognition from the Academy.