American Film and Society since 1945 by Leonard Quart

By Leonard Quart

This post-World struggle II survey of yankee cinema offers an in-depth exploration of ways movie acts as a robust cultural expression of the yankee public's desires and desires.

• comprises an advent that addresses the heritage of the decade and discusses occasions reminiscent of the assaults of September eleventh, 2001, typhoon Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commercial challenge, and the election of President Barack Obama

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On another level the film's singing and dancing intimated a kind of energy that lurked beneath the surface of these films and seemed ready to burst forth at any moment. Most often during the war years that energy seemed to nestle softly in a nostalgic evocation of a turn-of-the-century America; an idealised world that was perhaps never better realised than in Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). As a matter offact, except for the momentary anxiety over the family's possible uprooting 36 AMERICAN FILM AND SOCIETY SINCE 1945 because of the father's job mobility, some nervousness about whether or not the boy next door, John Truett (Tom Drake), loved Esther Smith Uudy Garland), and the Halloween night terrors of little 'Tootie' (Margaret O'Brien) the Smith family lived an almost Andy Hardy idyll; an edenic past of home and family topped offby a bright vision offuture progress embodied in the St Louis Fair of 1903.

However, a good women's love does ultimately help rescue Fred, as AI's pert, lively, strong and sensitive daughter Peggy (Theresa Wright) offers him understanding and a shoulder to lean on. Although Fred's rescue by Peggy and the offer of a job recycling old bombers into pre-fab housing is rather contrived, this subplot provides us with one of the best reasons why The Best Years has been assigned a niche in the pantheon of American films. For in its chronicling of Fred's story The Best Years offers us one of its formally most dazzling and powerful scenes.

However, in Zapata Kazan is more committed to the revolutionary image and emotion than he is to the political and social ends of revolution; more interested in heroic myth (Zapata heroically astride his white horse) and rebellion than he is in history or politics. Clearly, Viva Zapata was not the unequivocal anticommunist polemic some critics perceived it to be, but nevertheless, Kazan did pay his dues to HUAC with his next film, Man on a Tight Rope (1953). The film was neither a commercial success nor a favourite of Kazan's.

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