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The Big Tomorrow

Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way

In this daring reexamination of the connections between national politics and Hollywood movies, Lary May offers a fresh interpretation of American culture from the New Deal through the Cold War—one in which a populist, egalitarian ethos found itself eventually supplanted by a far different view of the nation.

"One of the best books ever written about the movies." —Tom Ryan, The Age

"The most exhilarating work of revisionist film history since Pauline Kael’s Citizen Kane. . . . May’s take on what movies once were (energizing, as opposed to enervating), and hence can become again, is enough to get you believing in them again as one of the regenerative forces America so sorely needs."—Jay Carr, Boston Globe

"A startling, revisionist history of Hollywood’s impact on politics and American culture. . . . A convincing and important addition to American cultural criticism."—Publishers Weekly

"A controversial overview of 30 years of American film history; must reading for any serious student of the subject."—Choice

"A provocative social history of Hollywood’s influence in American life from the 1930s to the 1950s. May argues persuasively that movies in the period offered a good deal of tough criticism of economic and social conditions in U.S. society. . . . May challenges us to engage in some serious rethinking about Hollywood’s impact on American society in the middle of the twentieth century."—Robert Brent Toplin, American Historical Review

364 pages | 69 halftones, 31 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2000

Culture Studies

Film Studies

History: American History

Sociology: Sociology of Arts--Leisure, Sports

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue: Nothing Is More American
Part One: The Modern Republic Comes of Age
1. "My Ancestors Did Not Come Over on the Mayflower": Will Rogers and the Radicalism of Tradition
2. The Recreation of America: Hybrid Moviemakers and the Multicultural Republic
3. Utopia on Main Street: Modern Theaters and the "New" Audiences
Part Two: The American Way and Its Discontent
4. The Birth of the White Consumer Democracy: Hollywood and the World War II Conversion Narrative
5. Movie Star Politics: Hollywood and the Making of Cold War Americanism
6. "Outside the Groove of History": Film Noir and the Birth of a Counterculture
Epilogue: Reimaging Postwar America
Appendix 1: Sampling Methods and Research Data
Appendix 2: Trends in Film Plots and the Changing Face of American Ideology
Appendix 3: Examples of Film Reviews from Motion Picture Herald
Film Index
Subject Index


Theatre Library Association: Richard Wall Memorial Award

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