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Hollywood As Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context [Paperback]

Peter C. Rollins

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Book Description

December 18, 1997 0813109515 978-0813109510 Rev Sub

" The films considered: The Birth of a Nation (1915), The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936), The River (1937), March of Time (1935-1953), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Native Land (1942), Wilson (1944), The Negro Soldier (1944), The Snake Pit (1948), On the Waterfront (1954), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), and Apocalypse Now (1979).

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Hollywood As Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context + Screening America: United States History Through Film Since 1900 + Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"It's like writing history with lightning!" marveled President Wilson upon first screening Birth of a Nation in 1915. Indeed, the celluloid image had indelibly impressed upon him--and the rest of the viewing world--a singularly unique language that expressed itself as an innovative marriage of form and content. That an equally distinctive discourse should arise surrounding the infant art form was unsurprising as students, historians, and social scientists have struggled for decades to define the dynamic relationship between cinema and society.

The essays compiled in Hollywood as Historian all seek to explore this burgeoning relationship further, weighing in on the various ways films have distorted history, revised history, provoked social change, and have been affected by the political and social climate in which they were produced. For example, the examination into D.W. Griffith's landmark film Birth of a Nation reveals not only a narrative of structural ingenuity, but a prime example of how the celluloid depiction of a fictional society--in this case a Southern culture replete with racist overtones--can effectively alter the public perception of history. Intended as a collegiate text, the book discusses the films in a way that does little to forge new territory in the arena of film and popular-culture studies. The essays compiled were largely penned in the 1970s and have doubtless made their rounds in the targeted scholastic communities. However, the revised 1998 notes serve as a potent reminder of the causal relationship between art and society. As we live in an era where filmmakers are sued over the misinterpretation of their product and the media are routinely blamed for the general degradation of social values, it is more important than ever to recognize the impact that each sphere of influence has over each other. --Katrina Brede


"History TeacherRecommended reading for anyone concerned with the influence of popular culture on the public perception of history." -- American Journalism

"BooklistA good text for a class in popular culture of film history." -- Film Quarterly

"This far-ranging collection is a solid body of material which elevates the standard by which the future study of film as history can be measured." -- Frank Manchel in Film Study: A Research GuideA scholarly and innovative work tha

"South Atlantic QuarterlyFilled with provocative slants on a number of celluloid icons." -- Jerusalem Post

Product Details

More About the Author

Born in Brookline, MA and educated at Dartmouth (2yrs), Harvard (2yrs); after a 3-year tour as an infantry officer in the US Marines, back to Harvard for a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization.

Taught at Oklahoma State University for 37 yrs, attaining the rank of Regents Professor. Toward end of teaching career, courses focused on motion pictures and their impact on society.

Publications can be summarized as "film and history studies," most of which were published by the UP of Kentucky, although the epic was The Columbia Companion to American History in Film.

Hollywood as Historian, Hollywood's West, Hollywood's White House, etc. Full details on publications are at petercrollins.com where there are click points for full details and purchase.

Editor of Film & History for 12 years. Most indebted to John E. O'Connor, my mentor in this effort and co-editor in so many of the book projects.

Filmmaking was an option and I made documentaries about Will Rogers, the Vietnam war, World War II. (See America Reflected for details on these projects.) I was a strong advocate of "the historian as filmmaker" movement in this country, an effort which was overtaken by journalistic efforts on the History Channel and PBS.

America Reflected is my most recent effort and contains materials on Will Rogers, Benjamin Whorf, war on film, and canonical figures such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, John James Audubon, Frederick Henry Hedge, Amy Lowell, and others. America Reflected is my capstone book, an attempt to put the best of my writings on the library shelves.

My life has been a wonderful gift.

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