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The Politics of American Film presents a study of the social and political nature of American film by concentrating on a generation of writers who directed films in Hollywood in the 1940's. He discusses how they negotiated their roles in relation to the studio system, itself undergoing change, and to what extent their experience in the political and theatre movements of thirties New York was to be reflected in their later films. The book deals with wider issues relating to the relationship between American film and American politics and society, by examining the middle period work of Frank Capra, film noir and politics, and the impact on American film of the Congressional investigations of the late forties and early fifties. He focuses in particular on Orson Welles, Elia Kazan, Jules Dassin, Abraham Polonsky, Niicholas Ray, Robert Rossen and Joseph Losey, and discusses their later American work.
The book relates the work of these writers and directors to the broaoder industrial, bureaucratic, social and political developments of the period 1935-1970, with special emphasis on the post-war decade, bringing together archival and secondary sources to discuss a lost tradition of social filmmaking in America.