Cover

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Title

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Copyright

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Dedication

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CONTENTS

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FOREWORD

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pp. xi-xii

American audiences have always enjoyed flag-waving war movies. They cheered when U.S. forces ran up San Juan Hill in the silent short Tearing Down the Spanish Flag (1898), hooted when Union troops attacked Confederate forces in The Birth of a Nation (1915), and whistled when Charlie Chaplin single-handedly captured the kaiser in Shoulder Arms (1918) ...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xiii-xiv

Deborah Carmichael of Film & History was regularly involved in bringing this project to completion and deserves the highest praise for her professionalism. Her diligence on behalf of the 2005 conference “War in Film & History,” from which these chapters emerged, assured a strong start for this project. (See conference...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-38

Military conflicts have influenced American society and reshaped the lives of Americans in complex and subtle ways. Although public documents, legislative debates, and battlefield statistics may be the best sources for understanding some of the more traditional historical issues such as war aims, strategies, and logistical successes and failures, evidence from popular culture may show more ...

Part I. The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Revolution, Conquest, and Union

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pp. 39-40

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1. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ON THE SCREEN: Drums Along the Mohawk and The Patriot

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pp. 41-62

Hollywood productions about the American past have been relatively common over the century-long history of motion pictures—especially if one counts all the representations of the western frontier and all the films about American wars. In this context it is somewhat surprising that there have been so few thoughtful productions about the period of the American Revolution (1763–1789). ...

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2. REPRINTING THE LEGEND: The Alamo on Film

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pp. 63-76

Back when schoolchildren actually knew something about history, the stirring and heroic saga of the siege and fall of the Alamo was as well known as Washington’s crossing of the Delaware or Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill. To tell the story was to sing a hymn to gleaming, unassailable patriotism and, as Alamo commander William Barret Travis wrote in his most famous ...

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3. ASSESSING TELEVISION’S VERSION OF HISTORY: The Mexican-American War and the KERA Documentary Series

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pp. 77-98

To better understand the Mexican-American War, we must place the conflict within the historical framework of the early and mid-nineteenth century, and especially in the context of how Americans viewed themselves and the world. The 1840s were years of rapid and dramatic territorial growth. This expansion, coupled with the ebullient popular attitudes, resulted in actions many ...

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4. KEN BURNS’S REBIRTH OF A NATION: The Civil War as Made-for-Television History

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pp. 99-120

It has been around eighteen years since The Civil War premiered over five consecutive evenings (23–27 September 1990), amassing a level of attention unsurpassed in public television history. Ken Burns’s eleven-hour version of the war acted as a flash point for a new generation, attracting a spectrum of opinion that ranged from rapturous enthusiasm to milder interest in most ...

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5. “IT’S WHAT PEOPLE SAY WE’RE FIGHTING FOR”: Representing the Lost Cause in Cold Mountain

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pp. 121-134

In the introduction to Cold Mountain: A Screenplay, author Charles Frazier describes a strange moment that occurred during the making of the film. As they were filming a Christmas celebration, director Anthony Minghella suddenly stopped the cameras and asked Frazier, “This scene is in the book, isn’t it?” Remarkably, Frazier responded, “I’m not sure. I’d have to check” (xii). This ...

Part II. The Twentieth Century: Total War

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pp. 135-136

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6. THE GREAT WAR VIEWED FROM THE 1920S: The Big Parade

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pp. 137-155

The decade of the 1920s has long stood in the popular perspective as a unity, bounded by the ignoble brackets of war and economic crisis. The customary view of the period, kept alive by dozens of colorful book titles, is that it was a time of carefree hedonism and relentless materialism when American society unleashed the pent-up energies of the war years. ...

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7. TECHNOLOGY AND “REEL PATRIOTISM” IN AMERICAN FILM ADVERTISING OF THE WORLD WAR I ERA

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pp. 156-174

Advertising and publicity are forms of commercial speech that motivate moviegoing and shape the understanding of films. In fact, at times, advertisements are even more memorable, more evocative, and more widely seen than the films they promote. Although historians have studied the production and exhibition of war-related films, they have paid less attention to how these films ...

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8. CULTURE WARS AND THE LOCAL SCREEN: The Reception of Westfront 1918 and All Quiet on the Western Front in One German City

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pp. 175-195

Six nights in December 1930 were all it took to make Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) the most controversial film in Germany between the world wars. For six nights it played in Berlin, with protests inside and outside the theater and across the country, until Germany’s Censorship Board reversed its earlier approval of the movie and banned it. For several ...

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9. THE PEACE, ISOLATIONIST, AND ANTI-INTERVENTIONIST MOVEMENTS AND INTERWAR HOLLYWOOD

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pp. 196-225

In studying U.S. foreign policy in the period between the two world wars, scholars have recently produced some important work on interventionism and the film industry, but the relationship of antiwar groups to motion pictures has been largely ignored. Such neglect is clearly unwarranted, since surveys indicated that throughout the 1930s, the overwhelming majority of Americans ...

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10. THE B MOVIE GOES TO WAR IN HITLER, BEAST OF BERLIN

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pp. 226-241

During the 1930s, the neighborhood movie house was a place of refuge for many. The pressures and strains of the world vanished amidst the laughter, thrills, and chills of the golden era of the B movie. In the world outside, people were weighed down by the burdens of the era—memories of family, friends, and neighbors who had died in World War I; the effects of the Great ...

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11. WHY WE FIGHT AND PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA: Frank Capra, Robert Riskin, and the Making of World War II Propaganda

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pp. 242-258

In an overview of America’s then-recent documentary tradition, Robert and Nancy Katz observed in 1948 that the welter of outstanding World War II documentaries had only a limited impact on the genre in the United States due to their restricted viewing at home. They reserved special praise, however, for the Why We Fight series directed by Frank Capra and for a series of films ...

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12. ON TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR: World War II and Hollywood’s Moral Fiction, 1945–1956

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pp. 259-282

There is a scene in The Best Years of Our Lives, the Academy Award–winning film of 1946, in which an army veteran of the Pacific war presents his teenage son with a souvenir—a samurai sword. The boy hesitates a moment and says flatly, “Thanks very much, Dad.” The father then holds up a Japanese flag and tells his son that he took it off “a dead Jap soldier.” He points out the various good-luck ...

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13. JAMES JONES, COLUMBIA PICTURES, AND THE HISTORICAL CONFRONTATIONS OF FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

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pp. 283-302

James Jones spent his career writing about the average American soldier’s experience immediately prior to and during the Second World War, from his “fictional” combat trilogy From Here to Eternity (1951), The Thin Red Line (1962), and Whistle (published posthumously in 1978) to his popular history World War II (1975). Nevertheless, historians and literary critics have tended to downplay ...

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14. HOLLYWOOD’S D-DAY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE 1960S AND 1990S: The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan

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pp. 303-314

Cinematic history from Hollywood is intriguing not only for its perspectives on the past but also for what it says about the times in which the films were being produced. Often the creators of motion pictures address concerns of the present when they fashion stories about the past. This characteristic is certainly evident in the case of movies depicting events associated with World ...

Part III. Cold War and Insurgency: The Paradox of Limited Wars

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pp. 315-316

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15. COLD WAR BERLIN IN THE MOVIES: From The Big Lift to The Promise

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pp. 317-349

Although a sizable literature exists on the “Berlin film” (Byg), relatively few authors have explored filmmakers’ use of Berlin as a political space during the twentieth century. They have devoted considerably more attention to issues such as modernity and postmodernity, gender, urban culture, and aesthetics.1 After 1945, however, filmmakers represented Berlin not only as an important ...

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16. INVADERS OF THE COLD WAR: Generic Disruptions and Shifting Gender Roles in The Day the Earth Stood Still

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pp. 349-366

In The Fifties, David Halberstam writes, “In retrospect the pace of the fifties seemed slower, almost languid. Social ferment, however, was beginning just beneath this placid surface” (ix). He further notes, “Few Americans doubted the essential goodness of their society. After all it was reflected back at them not only in contemporary books and magazines, but even more powerfully and...

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17. USING POPULAR CULTURE TO STUDY THE VIETNAM WAR: Perils and Possibilities

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pp. 367-389

The Vietnam War is not over for the United States. It is still being fought in our popular culture, and the struggle provides rich opportunities for researchers and teachers of contemporary literature, mass media, and culture. The secret for exploiting this opportunity has less to do with identifying the kinds of materials to use in the classroom than with defining the right approach to ...

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18. FRAGMENTS OF WAR: Oliver Stone’s Platoon

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pp. 390-403

The Hollywood image of war, and of Americans in battle, has been almost universally positive. Many Hollywood combat films begin with the training of a single unit and follow it into battle. American troops are depicted as heroic; the enemy fanatical. Our men are portrayed as reluctant soldiers more interested in the girl back home, their families, and baseball than they are in ...

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19. THE QUIET AMERICAN: Graham Greene’s Vietnam Novel through the Lenses of Two Eras

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pp. 404-428

Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, published in 1955, has twice caught the interest of respected filmmakers. Joseph Mankiewicz directed his adaptation of the novel in 1958, and Phillip Noyce returned to the text nearly a half century later. These radically different presentations reflect the different historical contexts in which they were filmed and show how America’s involvement in ...

Part IV. The Twenty-first Century: Terrorism and Asymmetrical Conflicts

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pp. 429-430

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20. OPERATION RESTORE HONOR IN BLACK HAWK DOWN

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pp. 431-457

On 3 October 1993 a group of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators, acting in support of a United Nations relief mission in Somalia, mounted a surprise raid into the urban center of Mogadishu. Task Force (TF) Ranger, as it was called, hoped to capture leaders of the Habr Gidr clan, which was leading the resistance to the UN presence in the country. The commando attack met ...

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21. DOCUMENTARY AND THE IRAQ WAR: A New Genre for New Realities

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pp. 458-487

The Vietnam conflict (1959–1975) has been described as America’s first televised war, or the first “living-room war.” In the ensuing years there was much discussion of the “Vietnam syndrome,” the view that a difficult, drawn-out military engagement would be impossible in the new media environment. The Vietnam experience allegedly demonstrated that the American public would ...

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22. JESSICA LYNCH AND THE REGENERATION OF AMERICAN IDENTITY POST 9/11

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pp. 488-510

On 1 April 2003 the broken body of Pfc. Jessica Lynch was recovered by the U.S. military from a hospital in Nasariyah, Iraq, where she lay suffering from injuries incurred in a combat-related Humvee crash. The rescue story quickly took on larger-than-life proportions as the vested interests of the military and the commercial media coalesced around the need for a good story to clarify ...

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23. REPRESENTING THE UNREPRESENTABLE: 9/11 on Film and Television

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pp. 511-528

It is surely not a coincidence that French film theorist André Bazin wrote some of his most famous and lasting works about the nature of the cinema during the last calendar year of World War II. Bazin’s argument that “photography and the cinema . . . are discoveries that satisfy, once and for all and in its very essence, our obsession with realism” (12) came directly on the heels of a ...

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FILMOGRAPHY

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pp. 529-565

War filmographies are abundant. The most comprehensive among them induce humility in those who offer yet another. Suid and Haverstick’s Stars and Stripes on Screen (2005) lists 1,300 feature films and documentaries depicting U.S. military personnel. Shull and Wilt’s Hollywood War Films, 1937–1945 (1996), which used more expansive criteria of theme and reference, lists more than ...

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 566-574

CONTRIBUTORS

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pp. 575-583

INDEX

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pp. 584-604

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ABOUT THE EDITORS

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During the last decade Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor have developed a productive collaboration resulting in six co-edited books, including Hollywood’s World War I: Motion Picture Images (Popular Press, 1997) and The West Wing: The American Presidency as Television Drama (Syracuse UP, 2003). Four of their joint efforts have been published by the University Press of Kentucky: Hollywood’s ...