Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 313 pages

For more than 30 years, the action movie has been the film genre that most represents Hollywood to the world, and represents the world to American audiences. Still, the action film has never received the critical attention it deserves. Studying its various trends and visual excesses, Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie traces the genre's evolution and sources to reveal how it has come to assume its place of prominence in American identity and American life. With scores of in-depth case studies--including films such as Dirty Harry, Death Wish, RoboCop, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Armageddon, and Spider-Man--author Eric Lichtenfeld draws on film analysis, production histories, critical responses, studio marketing, original filmmaker interviews, and considerations of the genre's weaponry itself.

No previous book has taken on this subject with such rigor, and few genre studies of any kind synthesize critical reaction, studio marketing and advertising, and filmmaker interviews. Moreover, the action genre has never been studied with the dedication that critics have devoted to other genres, such as the Western, film noir, and screwball and romantic comedies. Action Speaks Louder provides a fresh perspective on the history and craft of a category of films that are among cinema's most popular, ones that certainly represent the movies' most primal form of fun.

 

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Contents

The Laws Crazy The Vigilante and Other Myths
17
Automatons Hardbodies and World Pacification
59
Enter the Fists The Body as the Weapon
97
Into the Jungle Out of the Wasteland Action in the Wild
127
Blowing Up All Those Familiar Places Terror and the Confined Arena
163
Unmitigated Disasters Old Formulas and the New Spectacle
197
Tomorrows Heroes Today Action Meets the Fantastic
229
Excelsior March of the Superheroes
253
Sifting Through the Rubble
273
Notes
283
Index
305
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

ERIC LICHTENFELD is a freelance writer who has contributed to film publications including Film Score Monthly, The Scenographer, and the Journal of the Art Directors Guild. He has worked in many areas of the film industry, including pre-production and marketing, and studied cinema at Wesleyan University and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received his Master's degree.

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