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Blue-Collar Hollywood Liberalism, Democracy, and Working People in American Film by John (Indiana University) Bodnar
  

Blue-Collar Hollywood Liberalism, Democracy, and Working People in American Film

Synopsis

Blue-Collar Hollywood Liberalism, Democracy, and Working People in American Film by John (Indiana University) Bodnar

From Tom Joad to Norma Rae to Spike Lee's Mookie in Do the Right Thing, Hollywood has regularly dramatized the lives and struggles of working people in America. Ranging from idealistic to hopeless, from sympathetic to condescending, these portrayals confronted audiences with the vital economic, social, and political issues of their times while providing a diversion-sometimes entertaining, sometimes provocative-from the realities of their own lives.In Blue-Collar Hollywood, John Bodnar examines the ways in which popular American films made between the 1930s and the 1980s depicted working-class characters, comparing these cinematic representations with the aspirations of ordinary Americans and the promises made to them by the country's political elites. Based on close and imaginative viewings of dozens of films from every genre-among them Public Enemy, Black Fury, Baby Face, The Grapes of Wrath, It's a Wonderful Life, I Married a Communist, A Streetcar Named Desire, Peyton Place, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Coal Miner's Daughter, and Boyz N the Hood-this book explores such topics as the role of censorship, attitudes toward labor unions and worker militancy, racism, the place of women in the workforce and society, communism and the Hollywood blacklist, and faith in liberal democracy.Whether made during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, or the Vietnam era, the majority of films about ordinary working Americans, Bodnar finds, avoided endorsing specific political programs, radical economic reform, or overtly reactionary positions. Instead, these movies were infused with the same current of liberalism and popular notion of democracy that flow through the American imagination.

Reviews

You cannot but be seduced and even sometimes bedazzled by Bodnar's clear, well-informed and impartial analysis. -- Nicolas Magenham * Cercles * An uncommonly well balanced account of the political biases of American movies... A fine read for the generalist yet a scholarly achievement. * Choice * Bodnar provides a useful provocation. He asks us to think imaginatively about the subtle and complex ways movies communicate ideas and attitudes. -- Robert Brent Toplin * Journal of American History * Open minded and even handed, he appreciates the nuances and mixed messages of Hollywood cinema. * American Historical Review * Timely, necessary, well-written, and accessible. -- Tony Fonseca * Screening the Past * A worthwhile acquisition for an academic library. -- Tomas Pospisil * Amerikastudien / American Studies *


About the Author

John Bodnar is Chancellor's Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington, and author of numerous books, including Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd August 2006

Author

John (Indiana University) Bodnar

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    recommendations

Publisher

Johns Hopkins University Press

Format

Paperback
328 pages

Categories

Film theory & criticism
Social classes

ISBN

9780801885372

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