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Hollywood's America: Understanding History Through Film, 5th Edition



Hollywood's America: Understanding History Through Film, 5th Edition

Steven Mintz, Randy W. Roberts, David Welky

ISBN: 978-1-118-97652-4 January 2016 Wiley-Blackwell 448 Pages

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Fully revised, updated, and extended, the fifth edition of Hollywood’s America provides an important compilation of interpretive essays and primary documents that allows students to read films as cultural artifacts within the contexts of actual past events.

  • A new edition of this classic textbook, which ties movies into the broader narrative of US and film history
  • This fifth edition contains nine new chapters, with a greater overall emphasis on recent film history, and new primary source documents which are unavailable online
  • Entries range from the first experiments with motion pictures all the way to the present day
  • Well-organized within a chronological framework with thematic treatments to provide a valuable resource for students of the history of American film

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Introduction: The Social and Cultural History of American Film 1


Introduction: Intolerance and the Rise of the Feature Film 31

1 Workers in Early Film 33

Michael Shull, “Silent Agitators: Militant Labor in the Movies, 1909–1919”

2 Silent Cinema as Historical Mythmaker 42

Eric Niderost, “The Birth of a Nation”

3 The Revolt Against Victorianism 51

Lary May, “Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and the New Personality”

4 Primary Sources 63

Edison v. American Mutoscope Company 63

“The Nickel Madness” 65

Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio 68

Fighting a Vicious Film: Protest Against The Birth of a Nation 69

Boston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1915 69

Analysis by Francis Hackett 69

“Seeing Our Boys ‘Over There’” 71


Introduction: Backstage During the Great Depression: 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Footlight Parade 75

5 Depression America and its Films 79

Maury Klein, “Laughing Through Tears”

6 The Depression’s Human Toll 86

Peter Roffman and Jim Purdy, “Gangsters and Fallen Women”

7 Depression Allegories 95

Thomas H. Pauly, “Gone with the Wind and The Grapes of Wrath as Hollywood Histories of the Great Depression”

8 African Americans on the Silver Screen 104

Thomas R. Cripps, “The Evolution of Black Film”

9 Primary Sources 116

The Introduction of Sound 116

“Pictures That Talk” 116

Review of Don Juan 117

“Silence is Golden” 118

Film Censorship 120

The Sins of Hollywood, 1922 120

“The Don’ts and Be Carefuls” 122

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 123

The State Department on Hollywood in Germany, 1934 133

The State Department on Hollywood in Latin America, 1934 134


Introduction: Hollywood’s World War II Combat Films 137

10 Movies and Great Britain 141

Michael Todd Bennett, “Anglophilia on Film: Creating an Atmosphere for Alliance, 1935–1941”

11 Blockbuster as Propaganda 156

Randy Roberts, “You Must Remember This: The Case of Hal Wallis’s Casablanca”

12 John Wayne and Wartime Hollywood 166

Randy Roberts, “John Wayne Goes to War”

13 The Woman’s Film 184

Jeanine Basinger, “When Women Wept”

14 Primary Sources 191

Sumner Welles to Franklin Roosevelt, 1941 191

The 1941 Academy Awards: Hollywood and the President 192

Correspondence between Walter Wanger and Stephen Early 192

Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Academy Awards Dinner 195

Walter Wanger to Stephen Early 196

Madeleine Carroll to Franklin Roosevelt 196

U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearings on Motion Picture and Radio Propaganda, 1941 196

Excerpts from The Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry, 1942 200

Bureau of Motion Pictures Report: Casablanca 204


Introduction: Double Indemnity and Film Noir 207

15 The Red Scare in Hollywood 211

Peter Roffman and Jim Purdy, “HUAC and the End of an Era”

16 Movies Grow Up 219

Jennifer Holt, “Hollywood and Politics Caught in the Cold War Crossfire”

17 The Morality of Informing 229

Kenneth R. Hey, “Ambivalence and On the Waterfront”

18 Science Fiction as Social Commentary 240

Stuart Samuels, “The Age of Conspiracy and Conformity: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

19 Primary Sources 250

United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1947) 250

Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry 251

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, 1947 251

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, 1951 251

The Waldorf Statement, 1947 254


Introduction: Bonnie and Clyde 257

20 The Dark Side of the 1960s 259

Charles Bane, “Worrying about the Bomb: Stanley Kubrick and the Nuclear War Film”

21 Films of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s 270

Michael Ryan and Douglas Kelner, “From Counterculture to Counterrevolution, 1967–1971”

22 Film Capital and National Capital 279

Kathryn Cramer Brownell, “‘Politics is Show Business’: Hollywood and the New Politics”

23 Reaffirming Traditional Values 288

Daniel J. Leab, “The Blue Collar Ethnic in Bicentennial America: Rocky”

24 Presenting African Americans on Film 297

Aram Goudsouzian, “The Rise and Fall of Sidney Poitier”

25 Coming to Terms with the Vietnam War 306

Randy Roberts and David Welky, “A Sacred Mission: Oliver Stone and Vietnam”

26 Primary Sources 324

Raymond Caldiero to Herbert L. Porter, 1972


Introduction: A Changing Hollywood 329

27 Feminism and Recent American Film 331

Aspasia Kotsopoulos, “Gendering Expectations: Genre and Allegory in Readings of Thelma and Louise”

28 The Screen and the Cross 349

Donna Bowman, “Christianity, Hollywood, and the Culture Wars”

29 Social Revolution on Screen 357

Thomas Piontek, “Tears for Queers: Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Hollywood, and American Attitudes toward Homosexuality”

30 Encountering Distant Lands 369

Mark Graham, “The New Great Game: Rambo III, The Beast, and Charlie Wilson’s War”

31 Superheroes for the Twenty-First Century 384

Noel Murray, “Assembling Joss Whedon’s Avengers: The Modern Business of Blockbusters”

32 Movies and the Construction of Historical Memory 392

Steven Mintz, “Movies, History, and the Disneyfication of the Past: The Case of Pocahontas”

Bibliography of Recent Books in American Film History 399

Index 425