Weaving a detailed retelling of American history from John F. Kennedy to Watergate with a fresh examination of the era's most significant films, Hoberman writes that those movies fostered a mythology that became inextricable from reality -- how they ''emanated from, and returned to shape, the nation's dream life.''
For a book that doesn't so much drive home an overarching thesis about its subject as unravel particular events that are dense with historical, political and cinematic import, this assessment of the 1960s and its aftermath by longtime Village Voice critic Hoberman packs a salient and unique wallop. Hoberman wants to remind readers that the '60s marked the first time in American history when "[m]ovies might be political events, and political events were experienced as movies." It is a lesson that by now seems fairly obvious, but the book's power lies in its assessment of how new and forceful the heady combination of politics and visual mass media was, as politicians began to stress their images in addition to their words, and the restrictive Hays Code, which had tightly governed mass media content, loosened. Although the book contains much political analysis, it's a rare history that also reveals the era's sensibilities. Hoberman does so by employing language of the time (when discussing Gordon Park Jr.'s Superfly, he describes the protagonist's "incredible pad" and his "mockery of the honky police") and by using a plethora of sources: Norman Mailer's contemporary writings, popular magazines like Life, the political news of the time, box office stats, etc. Hoberman's usual epigrammatic wit ("Easy Rider is, even in 1968, a costume movie") is on display here, making his long sections of political examinations more bearable. (Oct. 24) Forecast: Hoberman's book could be used as a particularly entertaining text in American history or film classes, but readers looking strictly for analyses of '60s films should search elsewhere. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
JFK, RFK, LBJ, Castro, Khrushchev, Goldwater, Wallace, Reagan, Manson, Communist paranoia, Vietnam, race riots, the counterculture-and the Hollywood movies that influenced and were influenced by political discourse during the 1960s and early 1970s. This is Village Voice film critic Hoberman's topic, and it is explicated flawlessly. The epic begins with the liberal Kirk Douglas making Spartacus and the conservative John Wayne The Alamo, both inspirational last-stand sagas; the unrolling-nay, unraveling-of the decade continues through such usual suspect films as Dr. Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde, and Easy Rider but also via other, sometimes neglected or misunderstood movies like The Magnificent Seven, PT 109, Advise and Consent, Major Dundee, The Chase, The Dirty Dozen, Night of the Living Dead, The Wild Bunch, and Dirty Harry. It's an eyeopening and disturbing diagnosis of semideranged, if not fully demented, leading players and a dysfunctional society. The result is a well-wrought work that offers a unique way of viewing the Sixties. Highly recommended.-Kim Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"One of the most vital cultural histories I’ve ever read. Hoberman’s deceptively easygoing yet deliriously compacted prose threads history through movie lore through McLuhanesque media criticism. . . . An extraordinary publishing evenT." David Edelstein, Slate
"So invigorating that I had to ration myself to a chapter a week." John Patterson, The Guardian
"Nobody in America writes as well about culture and film as J. Hoberman." Peter Biskind
"Packs a salient and unique wallop." Publishers Weekly