Sunshine in the Dark
Florida in the Movies
Susan J. Fernández and Robert P. Ingalls
Florida has been the location and subject of hundreds of feature films, from Cocoanuts (1929) to Monster (2004). Portraying the state and its people from the silent era to the present, these films have explored the multitude of Florida images and cliches that have captured the public's imagination--a nature lover's paradise, a wildlife refuge, a tourist destination, home to the "cracker," and a haven for the retired, the rich, the immigrant, and the criminal. Sunshine in the Dark is the first complete study of how the movie industry has immortalized Florida’s extraordinary scenery, characters, and history on celluloid.
Historians Fernández and Ingalls have identified more than 300 films about Florida--many of them shot on location in the state--to analyze how filmmakers from the Marx Brothers and John Huston to Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola have portrayed the state and its people. Prior to the 1960s, cinematic trips to Florida usually brought happy endings in movies like Moon Over Miami (1942), but since the 1970s, films like Scarface (1982) have emphasized the state's menacing aspects.
In the authors' analysis of the films, which examines location settings, plotlines, and characters, they find a bevy of Florida stereotypes among the leading characters--from the struggling crackers in The Yearling (1946) to the drug-addicted con man in Adaptation (2002). Featuring more than 100 still photographs from movies, as well as filmographies by year and genre, the book is an encyclopedic resource for movie fans and anyone interested in Florida popular culture.
Susan J. Fernández is professor of history at University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. Robert P. Ingalls is professor of history at the University of South Florida-Tampa.
- Sample Chapter(s):
- Table of Contents
"A surprisingly vast reminder of the Floridian impressions on film, from the Marx Brothers to John Sayles."
--St. Petersburg Times
...crammed full of observations and anecdotes and analysis of some 300 films in which Florida settings, characters, or themes play a significant part, from Thomas Edison and Randolph Hearst's news footage of the Spanish-American War in 1898 through recent films.
--Daytona Beach News-Journal
...with this book, anyone can learn about the major feature-length films that have been shot in Florida. Tha added pleasure is that these erudite authors have also analyzed these films in-depth to show the general themes that have emerged over the years.
"Sunshine in the Dark: Florida in the Movies" analyzes how filmmakers have portrayed Florida and its people and how that has shaped moviegoers' views of the state…Fernandez and Ingalls examine Florida films primarily as cultural records--perhaps more so than as works of art--in an "encyclopedic resource for movie fans and anyone interested in Florida popular culture."
" For anyone who loves both the movies and Florida in all its many forms,"Sunshine in the Dark" will prove a rich read. With this book, readers will learn ways to categorize and consider the next Florida film they see, whether it portrays a holiday in paradise or a journey to hell."
--Tampa Bay History
" Fernandez and Ingalls offer a very specific look at how cinematic representations of the state have changed over the course of film history, as a result of changes within the state and changes within the film industry as a whole."
" As an encyclopedic survey of Florida in film, the book is impressive in its scope."
--The Journal of Southern History