“Reconstructing American Historical Cinema” is a reassessment of American historiography and cinematic historians from the advent of sound to the beginning of wartime film production in 1942. J. E. Smyth dramatically departs from the traditional understanding of the relationship between film and history, arguing that certain Hollywood filmmakers were actively engaged in a self-conscious and often critical filmic writing of national history. Rather than emphasizing the divide between historical cinema and writing, Smyth explores the continuities between Hollywood films and history during the first four decades of the twentieth century, from Carl Becker’s “Everyman His Own Historian” to Howard Hughes’ “Scarface to Margaret Mitchell” and David O. Selznick’s “Gone with the Wind”.
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