Academic journal article Film & History

Stars and Stripes on Screen: A Comprehensive Guide to Portrayals of American Military on Film

Academic journal article Film & History

Stars and Stripes on Screen: A Comprehensive Guide to Portrayals of American Military on Film

Article excerpt

Lawrence H. Suid and Dolores A. Haverstick. Stars and Stripes on Screen: A Comprehensive Guide to Portrayals of American Military on Film. Scarecrow Press, 2005. 419 pages; $45.00 paper.

The War Genre

As a preeminent military-film historian, Dr. Larry Suid, a gregarious scholar, writer, and lecturer, has never fallen asleep at the switch. How could he? His many books, articles, television interviews, newspaper notices, and public appearances clearly explain the on-again, off-again, symbiotic shenanigans between high-ranking pentagon officials and the Hollywood moguls, detailing how these two sides-the warriors and the capitalists-jockey for position on the inside rail. Clearly, Dr. Suid's motion picture research, especially the war genre, has set the record straight many times.

Now, he has teamed up with his longtime editor, Dolores A. Haverstick, and, after a one-year stint in the Library of Congress, they have compiled an impressive 419-page motion picture guide, Stars and Stripes on Screen, providing over 1,400 entries highlighting Hollywood's portrayal of America's armed forces. According to Dr. Suid, these photodramas mirror a contemporary paradox: while most Americans profess their peaceful ways, in reality they actually love violence, at least from the safety of theater seats or living rooms. Since the war drama provides more vicarious adventures than any other film type, the Tinseltown entrepreneurs-always ready to please hard-cash customers-keep churning out one movie after another, pandering to those latent heroics that many red-blooded men wistfully crave.

To separate the different types of motion pictures, Dr. Suid has organized these titles into three categories-feature films, made-for-television movies, and documentaries-beginning as early as 1898 with a Spanish-American War docudrama short, Battle of Manila Bay, and ending with the 2005 World War II prisoner-of-war rescue trek, The Great Raid. In this 107-year period, he cites the title, director, producer, primary stars, year of production, running time, and-as the pièce de résistance-a subjective abstract, editorializing on the content or quality of each moving picture. …

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