Bigger Than Blockbusters: Movies That Defined America

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Whether it's the hum drum existence of Marion Crane and her illicit love affair, the psychotic antics of Norman Bates, the sudden irrational migration of birds, a crop duster swooping down on Roger Thornhill in the middle of nowhere, or Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace's unforgettable dance at Jack Rabbit Slim's - they are all cinematic moments that forever changed the psyche and viewing experience of American audiences. Bigger Than Blockbusters: Movies That Defined America tells the stories behind the most significant and influential films in American culture, movies that have had a profound influence on the literary, cinematic and popular culture of our time.

Arranged chronologically, the volume gives readers an opportunity to place the films within the context of the social and cultural historic dynamic of the time, making this an ideal source for student papers and reports. Each entry includes the filmmaker, actors, release information, a synopsis of the film, critics' reviews, awards, current availability, and then background on the making of the film in an artistic, economic, and technological context. Spanning all genres, including horror and drama, adventure, comedy, musicals, science fiction, and more, this volume is loaded with enough trivia and factoids to satisfy even the most die-hard movie buff. Also included are other Greatest Films compilations from the National Society of Film Critics and noteworthy sources for comparative purposes. Guaranteed to inspire forays into film favorites as well as some very lively debate, this resource is essential reading for film lovers and students alike.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A noteworthy feature of the book is its organization. It is arranged by decade to illustrate the cultural and historical context of the films of a particular period."


Reference & Research Book News

"Roman's study functions as both a 20th-century historical survey and a film compilation, focusing on movies that

changed American culture from 1915 through 2008. . . . The writing style is academic but accessible. Film students will appreciate grouped discussions, within selected chapters, of topics such as Hitchcock's films, the French New Wave movement, and musicals. Additional resource information includes alphabetical and chronological lists of the films discussed, a comprehensive bibliography of print and electronic sources, and a detailed index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers."



School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Sparsely illustrated with black-and-white stills, this compendium of the pretty good, the great, and the highly overrated never quite succeeds. The material is arranged chronologically from 1915's Birth of a Nation to 2008's No Country for Old Men and presents not only historical background on each film but also critical assessment that together establish the filmmaker's influences and the impact of the film on society at large. Roman purports to present a selection of "cultural icons that changed 20th- and 21st-century America," a premise that will appeal to students of serious cinema as well as the pop-culturally curious, but they will be disappointed by the weak writing. For example, the article on E.T. describes how "the spaceship has a rendezvous to pick up their misplaced colleague" and in the "Codes of the Old West" entry, the female lead in Dances with Wolves is described as "a white woman captured as a young girl by the Sioux who has attempted suicide." Much of the material here is handled more deftly in Bruce Kawin's A Short History of the Movies , 10th ed. (Longman, 2007).-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313339950
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/17/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 415
  • Sales rank: 1,513,582
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES ROMAN is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is the author of Love, Light, and a Dream (Praeger, 1996) and From Daytime to Primetime (Greenwood, 2005).

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1:Through a Glass Darkly, 1915-1938

Chapter 2: A Rumble to War, 1939-1942

Chapter 3: Boom & Bust: the Films of Post War America, 1946-1947

Chapter 4: The Hop, Bop, and Stroll, 1950-1959

Chapter 5: The Space Race, Civil Rights, and a Nation Torn, 1960-1969

Chapter 7:Platform Shoes, Pet Rocks, Disco and a Dysfunctional Presidency, 1970-1979

Chapter 8: Bits, Bytes, and Boomers, 1980-1989

Chapter 9:TITLE FOTHCOMING, 1990-1999

Chapter 10: The New Millennium, 2000-2008

Appendix A: Films Listed Chronologically

Appendix B: Films Listed Alphabetically


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