In this insightful study of Hollywood cinema since 1969, film historian Nick Smedley traces the cultural and intellectual heritage of American films, showing how the more thoughtful recent cinema owes a profound debt to Hollywood's traditions of liberalism, first articulated in the New Deal era. Although American cinema is not usually thought of as politically or socially engaged, Smedley demonstrates how Hollywood can be seen as one of the most value-laden of all national cinemas. Drawing on a long historical view of the persistent trends and themes in Hollywood cinema, Smedley illustrates how films from recent decades have continued to explore the balance between unbridled individualistic capitalism and a more socially engaged liberalism. He also brings out the persistence of pacifism in Hollywood's consideration of American foreign policy in Vietnam and the Middle East. His third theme concerns the treatment of women in Hollywood films, and the belated acceptance by the film community of a wider role for the American post-feminist woman.
Featuring important new interviews with four of Hollywood's most influential directors - Michael Mann, Peter Weir, Tony Gilroy, and Paul Haggis - The Roots of Modern Hollywood is an incisive account of where Hollywood is today and the path it has taken to get there.
Nick Smedley is an independent film historian specializing in Hollywood cinema. He is the author of A Divided World: Hollywood Cinema and Emigre Directors in the Era of Roosevelt and Hitler, 1933-1948.