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Blaine Allan

Professor Emeritus

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My recent research has resulted in a series of three articles on a 1939 film, Heritage, produced by the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau and released around the time John Grierson was writing his report on Canadian government film activity. The film, made for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, outlines a history of wheat farming on the prairies up to the 1930s, and describes the government programs intended to combat the drought and institute improved farming practices. It's a lot more interesting than it sounds. Really. But the history of the film's production, its relations to Pare Lorentz's much better known film, The Plow That Broke the Plains, and its role in the transformation of government filmmaking during the early years of the National Film Board offer even more to chew on. "Making Heritage, A Canadian Government Motion Picture," is destined to appear in an anthology on "Canada's Unknown Cinemas," edited by Christopher Faulkner and William O'Farrell. "Canada's Heritage (1939) and America's The Plow That Broke the Plains (1939) can be found in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television ( 19.4 (1999): 439-72, and "A National 'As Distinct from Departmental' Film Board, and the Case of Heritage" in the Canadian Journal of Film and Media ( 9.1 (Spring 2000): 30-54.

In addition to this work on Canadian film, I've devoted attention to a couple of other areas. The new edition of Television: Critical Methods and Applications, by Jeremy Butler, includes my revised chapter, "Music Television," which uses Lauryn Hill's Everything is Everything for a sample analysis. My dissertation, "The Beat Generation and the New American Cinema, 1956-1960," ( led to other Beat-related work, such as "The Making (and Unmaking) of Pull My Daisy, in Film History 3.2 (Sept/Oct 1988): 185-205  and "'Oh, Those Happy Pull My Daisy Days,'" in Moody Street Irregulars: A Jack Kerouac Newsletter 22-23 (Winter 1989-90): 4-10. Most recently, at Hofstra University's 1998 "Frank Sinatra: The Man, the Music, the Legend" conference (you hadda be there), I presented a paper titled "Frank Sinatra Meets the Beats," on the uses of Sinatra by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and corresponding images of hipness. It's scheduled to appear in the conference proceedings, to be published by Greenwood Press.

As well as this teaching and research, I've made a few films. The most recent, from 1991, is titled You Are Not Alone. It's a detective story about missing persons, but it's also about homesickness. It's distributed by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (