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  • Stars and Stripes on Screen: A Comprehensive Guide to Portrayals of the American Military on Film
  • Frank J. Wetta
Stars and Stripes on Screen: A Comprehensive Guide to Portrayals of the American Military on Film. By Lawrence H. Suid and Dolores A. Haverstick. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8108-5412-0. Bibliography. Pp. xxi, 417. Paperback only. $45.00.

In many ways, this reference work is a reader's companion to Lawrence Suid's Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film (revised 2002) and his Sailing on the Silver Screen: Hollywood and the U.S. Navy (1996). Stars and Stripes presents an authoritative filmography for historians as well as for casual viewers. The authors focus on both Hollywood and foreign-made movies with American military themes from 1898 to the present—combat films, military peacetime dramas, musicals, and comedies, among others.

"Ideally, we have created the definitive filmography of military films," Suid and Haverstick write (p. xviii). Over 1,300 titles appear—from John Wayne's classic Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) to Ed Wood's comically inane Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959). Even Hello, Dolly! (1969) merits an entry because of the wedding scene filmed at West Point.

All guides provide the standard film catalog information: producer, director, screenwriter, principal actors, company, color or black and white, plot summary, date of release, running time, and critique. This guide, however, includes settings (science fiction, peacetime, preparedness, and terrorism), [End Page 560] the specific military organization portrayed, the extent of Department of Defense cooperation, and the dates of the earliest reviews from Daily Variety, Weekly Variety, Variety Television Reviews, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

The ten appendixes "may prove to be the most valuable part of this guide," as the authors predict (p. xv). This section of the book will lead readers to films listed chronologically by armed service, films by subject and period, films focusing on American military leadership, actors and directors with significant credits in war films, Academy Award winning films, and the best and worst military films as judged by the authors.

The film commentaries range from one or two sentences to several paragraphs. Why particular entries receive more attention than others is, of course, at the authors' discretion. Some readers, nevertheless, may want further information. Certainly, the acclaimed television series Victory at Sea (1954) deserves a longer entry and a comment on its award-winning musical score by Richard Rogers. Why is there no reference to the haunting minimalist music by Philip Glass for Hamburger Hill (1987)? And more, please, on Walt Disney's remarkable animated film Victory through Airpower (1943).

For those who think the authors have overlooked or slighted their favorite film, the authors invite them to send "comments, corrections, and suggestions" to (p. xviii). Let the dialogue begin.

Frank J. Wetta
Ocean County College
Toms River, New Jersey


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pp. 560-561
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2010
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