Chapter

The Communication of Ideas

Barry Langford

in Post-Classical Hollywood

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638574
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671076 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638574.003.0003
The Communication of Ideas

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The conventional image of the United States from the end of World War II to President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, is of two febrile periods of heightened Cold War tensions, nuclear paranoia and domestic turbulence bookending a somnolent, self-satisfied and insular phase of conformity, commodity culture and conspicuous consumption. One could plot Hollywood's output in this period along a similar contour: first, a brief postwar period during which the cycles of social realist and noir films pushed boundaries of subject matter and style, all too soon stifled by a reactionary political climate; then a decade-long retreat to socially irrelevant spectacles like the epic and the musical, during which innovation was largely confined to the presentation and promotion of Hollywood films, using novel or updated technologies like 3-D, widescreen and colour to consolidate an idea of moviegoing as spectacular escapism. This chapter explores politics and realism in Hollywood films, the emergence of films tackling social problems, science fiction films and Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Keywords: Hollywood; United States; postwar period; noir films; politics; realism; social problems; science fiction films; Invasion of the Body Snatchers; musical

Chapter.  11768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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