Hollywood Goes to Washington
American Politics on Screen
Distributed for Reaktion Books
From conspiracy dramas such as The Manchurian Candidate to satires like Wag the Dog, Hollywood Goes to Washington argues that political films in American cinema have long reflected the issues and tensions roiling within American society. Coyne elucidates the mythology, iconography, and ideology embedded in both classic and lesser-known films—including Gabriel Over the White House, Silver City, Advise and Consent, and The Siege—and examines the cinematic portrayals of presidents in the White House, the everyman American citizen, and the nebulous enemies who threaten American democracy. The author provocatively contends that whether addressing the threat of domestic fascism in Citizen Kane or the disillusionment of Vietnam and paranoia of the post-Watergate era in Executive Action, the American political film stands as an important cultural bellwether and democratic force—one that is more vital than ever in the face of decreasing civil liberties in the present-day United States.
Compelling and wholly original, Hollywood Goes to Washington exposes the political power of the silver screen and its ramifications for contemporary American culture.
—Joseph McBride, author of Searching for John Ford: A Life and Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success
"Coyne presents a compelling case for America's political cinema: that it has been pervasive and persistently on target--and often ahead of the game--with its critical engagements . . . Coyne's thesis about American political cinema is likely to ring as true in the future as it does retrospectively."
"A wide-ranging survey of the American political film. . . . Coyne does an excellent job of linking actors with their archetypal roles, such as Henry Fonda and his serene, sagacious statesmen, and identifying the less conspicuous similarities between the films he discusses."
"Dissections of horror, noir and sci-fi are two-a-penny, but studies of the political movie are less so. Coyne stakes out a brisk claim on this rarely plotted terrain in his packed tome, tracing the genre's history from the early '30s to now. Coyne's fuel is one part scholarly research to several parts rousing rage: his feelings about Bush prompt the contention that these films are needed 'now, more than ever.'" – Total Film
"There are few things I find more satisfying than watching a bang-on Hollywood political thriller. Michael Coyne's respectful, perceptive analysis of the genre, Hollywood Goes to Washington: American Politics on Screen, is a vital contribution to the surprisingly small body of criticism devoted to this often-great (and sometimes-appalling) genre . . . an entertaining overview of the complex interactions between politics and cinema."– Media-Culture
"A clear and engaging overview of a large number of films, even shining a spotlight on several lesser-known or forgotten gems . . . Coyne's prose can be highly engaging . . . an enjoyable read and would be a useful text in introducing students to many of the major (and minor) films dealing with American politics." – Scope