A History of American Movies

A Film-by-Film Look at the Art, Craft, and Business of Cinema

By (author) Paul Monaco

Publication date:

05 May 2010

Length of book:

368 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810874336

In A History of American Movies: A Film-by-Film Look at the Art, Craft and Business of Cinema, Paul Monaco provides a survey of the narrative feature film from the 1920s to the present. The book focuses on 170 of the most highly regarded and recognized feature films selected by the Hollywood establishment: each Oscar winner for Best Picture, as well as those voted the greatest by members of the American Film Institute.

By focusing on a select group of films that represent the epitome of these collaborations, Monaco provides an essential history of one of the modern world's most complex and successful cultural institutions: Hollywood. Divided into three sections, "Classic Hollywood, 1927-1948," "Hollywood In Transition, 1949-1974," and "The New Hollywood, 1975 To The Present," Monaco examines some of the most memorable works in cinematic history, including The General, Wings, Bringing Up Baby, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, The Searchers, Psycho, West Side Story, The Godfather, Cabaret, Raging Bull, Rain Man, Toy Story, and Saving Private Ryan.

This is the only book that thoroughly treats Hollywood—and the most significant movies that it has made—simultaneously as the coming together of an art, a craft, and a business. This approach provides unique insight into the workings of one of the most accomplished and successful art forms in human history: the Hollywood feature film.
Considering the films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture from 1927 to 2008 and the American Film Institute's 'Greatest American Films' listed in 1996 and 2006, Monaco (cinema/video, Montana State Univ.; Understanding Society, Culture, and Television) has injudiciously divided American cinema into three eras—'Classic Hollywood (1927–48),' 'Hollywood in Transition (1949–74),' and 'New Hollywood' (1975 to the present). There are also sections about the founding of the studio system, a handful of classic silent films, and the coming of sound. For each era, Monaco attempts to encapsulate the genres, leading directors, dominant studios, and the best films. As he discusses the films, he proffers brief plot summaries, production background, and information about those involved in making the films, budgets, critical reviews, and public receptions.