This exciting collection addresses action and adventure from the silent to the contemporary period exploring diverse questions of aesthetics, industry and ideology. Action has established itself as one of the leading commercial genres of the New Hollywood cinema, generating extensive debate in the process.
Contributors consider how action might best be defined, how it has developed historically, and how it works formally. The critical reception and standing of action and adventure cinema is considered in relation to questions of national culture, violence and the 'art' of cinema.
Themes explored include genre and definitions; early action, sensation and melodrama; authorship and action; national and transnational action-adventure traditions; action aesthetics; spectacle and narrative; stars and bodies; class; gender; race and ethnicity.
Attempting to evaluate the significance of this type of filmmaking for both popular cinema and film studies, the book underlines the central place of action and adventure within film history.
Part 1: History and Style 1. Inventing Early Cinema 2. The 'Culture War' of Sensational Melodrama, 1910-1914 3. 'Child of Commerce! Bastard of Art': Early Film Melodrama 4. Action-Adventure as Hollywood Genre Part 2: Theorising Action Aesthetics 5. 'Get Ready for Rush Hour': The Chronotope in Action 6. Dwight MacDonald and the Historical Epic 7. The Collapse of Reality and Illusion in The Matrix 8. Guns and Gas: Investigating the Post-Classical Car Chase Film 9. Saving Private Ryan's 'Special Affect' Part 3: Gender, Stars, Bodies 10. Ready for Action: G.I. Jane. Demi Moore's Body and the Female Combat Movie 11. Mas Macha: The New Latina Action Hero 12. Beauty in Motion: Gender, Spectacle and Action Babe Cinema 13. Breakdown: White Masculinity, Class and US Action-Adventure Films 14. Maximus Melodramaticus: Masculinity, Masochism and White Male Paranoia in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema 15. The Family in Action Part 4: Nation, Ethnicity and Stardom 16. The Hong Kong/Hollywood Connection: Stardom and Spectacle in Transnational Action Cinema 17. Europeans in Action 18. Greek War Film as Melodrama: Women, Female Stars and the Nation as Victim 19. Spaghetti Western, Genre Criticism and National Cinema: Re-Defining the Frame of Reference Part 5: Action, Authorship and Industry 20. Genre and Violence in the Work of Kurosawa and Peckinpah 21. The Dirty Dozen: The Contradictory Nature of Screen Violence 22. 'It's aimed at kids - the kid in everybody': George Lucas, Star Wars and Childrens Entertainment 23. Man's Favourite Sport? The Action Films of Kathryn Bigelow 24. 'They call me action woman': The Marketing of Mimi Leder as a New Concept in the High Concept 'Action' Film