Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia

By Imhof, Robin | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia


Imhof, Robin, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Philip C. DiMare. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2011. 3 vols. acid free $280 (ISBN: 978-1-5988-4296-8). E-book available (978-1-5988-4297-5), call for pricing.

The blurb accompanying the review copy describes this resource as "focused on the relationship between American society and filmmaking in the United States from the late 19th century through the present." This is important to keep in mind since users may be puzzled by the inclusion of Godard's Breathless, Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, and Truffaut's The 400 Blows. That noted, the breadth and scope of this collection does primarily consist of representative American motion pictures, from the early silent films to the Harry Potter series.

The three-volume set includes 450 A--Z entries written primarily by university-affiliated scholars from diverse disciplines. There are entries for film titles, people (actors, directors, and notable screenwriters) and subjects. In particular, the subject entries are a useful distillation of topics such as "Drive-in Theatres" (remember those?) and "Representations of Disability in Film," for instance. Each entry provides a brief summary of the film along with an explanation of the film's cultural significance and influence, especially in relation to race, class, and gender issues.

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