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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Hollywood and the American Historical Film

ISBN 9780230230927
Publication Date February 2012
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

This definitive interdisciplinary collection by leading scholars probes the theoretical and historical contexts of films made about the American past, from silent film to the present. The book offers a fresh assessment of studio era historical filmmaking and its legacy across a range of genres.

J.E. SMYTH is Assistant Professor of History and Comparative American Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. She is the author of Reconstructing American Historical Cinema from Cimarron to Citizen Kane and Edna Ferber's Hollywood: American Fictions of Gender, Race and History, which won the Association of American Publishers' Prose Award for Media and Cultural Studies. 

Introduction; J.E.Smyth
Film and History: Artefact and Experience; W.Susman
Film History, Reconstruction and Southern Legendary History in The Birth of a Nation (1915); D.Culbert
The Hollywood Western, the Movement-Image and Making History; M.Landy
Ripping the Portieres at the Seams: Lessons from A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) on Gone with the Wind (1939); S.Courtney
Hollywood About Hollywood: Genre as Historiography; R.Sklar
Some Like it Hot (1959) and The Virtues of Not Taking History Too Seriously; D.Eldridge
Vico's Age of Heroes and the Age of Men in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962); M.Roche & V.Hösle
Anatomy of a Shipwreck: Warner Bros., The White House and the Celluloid Sinking of PT 109 (1963); N.J.Cull
The Long Road of Women's Memory: Fred Zinnemann's Julia (1977); J.E.Smyth
Inventing Historical Truth on the Silver Screen; R.Rosenstone
'This is not America; this is Los Angeles': Crime, Space and History in the City of Angels; I.Scott
Between Nostalgia and Regret: Strategies of Historical Disruption from Douglas Sirk to Mad Men; V.Dika
Further Reading

SUSAN COURTNEY Associate Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of South Carolina, USA
NICHOLAS J. CULL Professor of Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California, USA
DAVID CULBERT John L. Loos Professor of History at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA
VERA DIKA Assistant Professor of Film Studies at New Jersey City University, USA
DAVID ELDRIDGE Director of American Studies at the University of Hull, UK
VITTORIO HÖSLE Paul Kimball Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, USA
MARCIA LANDY Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, USA 
MARC ROCHE Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Notre Dame, USA
ROBERT ROSENSTONE Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology, USA
IAN SCOTT Senior Lecturer in American Studies at University of Manchester, UK
ROBERT SKLAR Professor Emeritus of Cinema at New York University, USA
WARREN I. SUSMAN (1927-1985) Taught at Cornell, Northwestern, Reed College, and finally Rutgers, USA, where he chaired the History Department from 1973 to 1979


'Smyth has assembled a stellar cast of authors in a comparatively rare attempt to bring together expertise in both film scholarship and American history.' - Melvyn Stokes, University College London, UK
'This groundbreaking collection of essays redraws the parameters of the historical film, expanding it to include a wide range of films set in the past, notably comedies, westerns and melodramas. Dry debates about historical accuracy and authenticity are rejected in favour of case studies that seek an understanding of the power and pleasures that this genre holds. Written in a lively and accessible style, and harbouring a wealth of authoritative scholarship, it is bound to become a fixture of university courses and a landmark in its field.' - Mark Glancy, Queen Mary University of London, UK
'Hollywood and the American Historical Film explores the specifics as well as the methods whereby Hollywood offers up history to its audiences. Filled with succinct essays whether David Culbert' s refreshing and concise re-assessment of Birth of a Nation; Robert Sklar's investigation of the ways in which Hollywood films represent Hollywood as a changing industry, culminating with George Cukor's A Star is Born (1954); or J.E. Smyth's own look at Fred Zinnemann's Julia (1977) based on composite and fictive characters: this collection brings a new complexity to its topic. These essays are consistently fascinating, and refreshing in their sophisticated approaches.' Charles Musser, Yale University, USA
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