Ever since Douglas Fairbanks let a sword do his talking in the swashbuckling films of the silent era, the action and adventure genre has evolved into one of the most enduring box–office draws in cinematic history. The Hollywood Action and Adventure Film presents a comprehensive overview and analysis of the history, myriad themes, and critical approaches to the action and adventure genre in American cinema.The book explores the genre s amazing longevity, one that stretches from the silent spectacles to the iconic superheroes of 21st–century action films. Case studies reveal the genre s diverse roots from westerns and war films, to crime and espionage movies and show how action and adventure represent pervasive modes of movie–making and storytelling throughout American cinema s lengthy history. By contrasting family movies such as
The Adventures of Robin Hood with the breakneck–pacing of thrillers like
The Bourne Identity, it illustrates just how extensive this popular American genre cinema can be. Chapters draw out a rich variety of aesthetic strategies and thematic concerns that have come to define the genre, touching on themes such as the outsider hero, violence and redemption, and adventure as escape from the mundane.
Hollywood Action and Adventure Film offers a timely and richly revealing portrait of a powerful cinematic genre that has increasingly come to dominate the American cinematic landscape.
List of Plates vii
1 Action and Adventure as Genre 1
2 Action and Adventure: Historical and Cultural Overview 23
3 Critical Perspectives on Action and Adventure 45
4 Silent Spectacle and Classical Adventure: The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 71
5 War, Violence and the American Action Hero: Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and Hell is for Heroes (1962) 89
6 Violence and Urban Action: Dirty Harry (1971) 107
7 Nostalgic Adventure and Recycled Culture: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) 121
8 Action Blockbusters in the 1980s: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Die Hard (1988) 137
9 Global and Postmodern Action: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Kill Bill (2003) 151
10 Espionage Action: The Bourne Identity (2002) and Salt (2010) 165
11 Superhero Action Cinema 179