Hollywood's West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History

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9780813123547: Hollywood's West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History

American historians such as Frederick Jackson Turner have argued that the West has been the region that most clearly defines American democracy and the national ethos. Throughout the twentieth century, the "frontier thesis" influenced film and television producers who used the West as a backdrop for an array of dramatic explorations of America's history and the evolution of its culture and values. The common themes found in Westerns distinguish the genre as a quintessentially American form of dramatic art. In Hollywood's West, Peter C. Rollins, John E. O'Connor, and the nation's leading film scholars analyze popular conceptions of the frontier as a fundamental element of American history and culture. This volume examines classic Western films and programs that span nearly a century, from Cimarron (1931) to Turner Network Television's recent made-for-TV movies. Many of the films discussed here are considered among the greatest cinematic landmarks of all time. The essays highlight the ways in which Westerns have both shaped and reflected the dominant social and political concerns of their respective eras. While Cimarron challenged audiences with an innovative, complex narrative, other Westerns of the early sound era such as The Great Meadow (1931) frequently presented nostalgic visions of a simpler frontier era as a temporary diversion from the hardships of the Great Depression. Westerns of the 1950s reveal the profound uncertainty cast by the cold war, whereas later Westerns display heightened violence and cynicism, products of a society marred by wars, assassinations, riots, and political scandals. The volume concludes with a comprehensive filmography and an informative bibliography of scholarly writings on the Western genre. This collection will prove useful to film scholars, historians, and both devoted and casual fans of the Western genre. Hollywood's West makes a significant contribution to the understanding of both the historic American frontier and its innumerable popular representations.

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About the Author:

Peter C. Rollins, Regents Professor of English and American/Film studies at Oklahoma State University, is editor of the journal Film & History. John E. O'Connor, professor in the Federated Department of History of New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, is founding editor of Film & History.

Review:

""A vital study of genre.... Recommended."" -- Choice



""Definitive in its own right... powerful essays."" -- Journal of American Culture



"An excellent study that should interest film buffs, academics, and non-academics alike." -- Journal of the West



"Another strong compilation from the editors of Film & History.... Eclectic interpretations of an institution that will always be a part of the American landscape." -- Robert Fyne, author of The Hollywood Propaganda of World War II



""Framed by a solid introduction and, at the back end of it, an excellent filmography and a first-rate bibliography, Hollywood's West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History offers both canonical and revisionist insights into the Western. The editors plunge into their introduction with all the vigor of a Sooner land rush, attending to Western history, art, and scholarship at breakneck speed."" -- Armando Jose Prats, Great Plains Quarterly

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Published by The University Press of Kentuc (2005)
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Published by The University Press of Kentucky 2005-11-11 (2005)
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