The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre

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Columbia University Press, 1986 - Performing Arts - 373 pages
Decades after World War II ended, the war continues to fascinate both the American filmgoer and filmmaker. In this bold, thorough study, Jeanine Basinger covers the history of the World War II combat film from its origins to its 1980s variations, using it as a prototype with which to develop ideas and questions about film genre, genre evolution, and genre transformation. Basinger clearly traces the evolution of the World War II combat film through its various stages. Establishing 1943's Bataan as typical, she reveals how elements in this film--characters, settings, narrative structure, film technique, and cultural attitudes--were adapted from prior films and then re-adapted and modified for later movies. The book details how the genre's first films told stories based on the real events taking place in the news of the day, but how later films told stories based on the earlier filmed versions of those same events. Solidly grounded in extensive viewings, the study indicates how the primary format is changed after the war, how it is influenced by the Korean and Vietnam wars, how documentaries help shape it, and how, after a period of epic re-creation, it ultimately becomes dominated by parodies and films showing inverted or satirical versions of the original stories. Basinger also demonstrates how seemingly incompatible genres, such as the woman's film, the musical, and the comedy, can merge successfully with the combat film. Basinger combines a historical approach to genre with a study of one of the most important and popular categories of film, to present a definitive analysis of the evolution of a genre. The book includes a complete annotated filmography, not available elsewhere, of World War ll and Korean War combat films from Pearl Harbor to the date of writing. This book will intrigue anyone interested in film studies, American studies, American popular culture, and history.--Adapted from dust jacket.

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The World War II combat film: anatomy of a genre

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In singling out World War II combat films from war films in general, Basinger argues that these films about heroes who lead mixed ethnic groups toward combat objectives constitute a separate genre ... Read full review

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