This is a clear and engrossing account of how popular films in America just after the close of the Second World War played out America's mood at that crucial time. It is also a revisionist challenge to received scholarly understanding of this mood, which has tended to be seen as characterized by an abiding pessimism most clearly manifested in the films noir of the period. Chopra-Gant makes here an important contribution to film genre, which, while not denying the significance of film noir, proposes that the 'noir and Zeitgeist' reading relies on a retrospective re-imagining of the era, based on the erroneous promotion of selected movies. He turns to the top box office successes of the period, including 'Best Years of our Lives' and 'Two Years Before the Mast', showing that these films, most popular with audiences of the time, emphasise rather the triumph of American beliefs in democracy, classlessness and individualism. The book is a compelling argument for attention to be given to the more fluid, contemporary understandings of the generic character of films, in contrast to the more rigid genre classes more familiar in film studies scholarship.
Hollywood Genres and Postwar America
Masculinity, Family and Nation in Popular Movies and Film Noir