Cover image for Filmography of American history
Filmography of American history
Tracey, Grant Annis George, 1960-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 336 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.H5 T73 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



Containing over 200 films, this resource is ideal for students, teachers, and other viewers who are interested in using films to enhance their knowledge of American historical events and periods. Along with traditional historical categories, such as the two World Wars, the Civil War, and the Great Depression, the book emphasizes immigrant, multicultural, and women-centered films to portray the fullness of the American experience. It also analyzes representations of people and events across different films for a variety of viewpoints, and considers how films reconfigure a past era through the issues of the day in which they were produced.

For ease of use, the book is organized into time periods. Each entry contains:

-the setting




-the year of production


Ratings are supplied to identify audience-appropriateness. The detailed narrative supplies a brief plot summary along with a thesis supported by strong examples from the film, such as excerpts of dialogue and factual details from history. The entries encourage readers to view the film through the lens of history and to consider it within the larger nexus of films listed in that particular chapter. Frequently, the historical focus considers both the time period depicted in the film and the time period in which it was made. The running times provide readers with a quick access to key scenes for further study. Each entry also concludes with sources for further reading, and indexes identify those films with multicultural and women's themes.

Author Notes

GRANT TRACEY, an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, teaches film studies and creative writing./e His short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, and he is also fiction editor for the North American Review.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This guide to more than 200 films that explore "the relationship between American history and American film" contains 14 chapters that progress from "America before the Civil War" to "Watergate, Political Cynicism, and Hope, 1972^-Present." Other landmark events that Tracey uses to provide frames of reference include western expansion, immigration, the two World Wars, civil rights, the cold war, Vietnam, and the counterculture movement of the 1960s. There are appendixes listing multicultural films and woman-centered films as well as a general index and a title index. Focusing on social history rather than selecting only those films that depict historical events, the author includes works such as It Happened One Night, Blackboard Jungle, The Hustler, The Godfather, and Traffic. Films are arranged in alphabetical order within each chapter. Each entry provides setting, director, screenplay authors, director of photography, cast, credits, year of production, distributor, running time, and Motion Picture Association of America ratings. Sources for further reading include book chapters, popular and scholarly periodical articles, and Internet sites. Annotations offer a brief plot summary, sometimes interspersed with film dialogue. PBS documentaries such as Baseball, The Way West, and The Civil War are included "in an attempt to correct some of the distortions of Hollywood films." Many chapters pair similar films together and address them as a "double bill." Additional films are listed at the end of each chapter. There are some glaring errors in the book that should have been caught before publication. For example, in the annotation for Boys Don't Cry, one of the characters is referred to as "Tim" instead of his actual character name "Tom." In the entry for Dead Man Walking, the rapist and murderer played by Sean Penn is described as being "on death row in Angola, Los Angeles" when it should be Angola, Louisiana. However, the book is a worthwhile purchase for libraries with extensive film collections.

Library Journal Review

Tracey (film studies, Univ. of Northern Iowa) has designed this guide to over 200 U.S. feature films and documentaries as a guide for teachers interested in highlighting the multicultural contributions of immigrants, ethnic groups, and women. Incorporating films from the silent era to the present, the alphabetically arranged entries cover 14 historical periods, from "America Before the Civil War" to "Watergate, Political Cynicism, and Hope." Each entry includes a brief plot summary, setting, cast and crew, running time, and sources for further reading. Almost all included films are readily available on VHS or DVD and are already part of the existing canon. Partly because Tracey seeks the best multiculturally focused films to express each period, some of the chapters are brief. Thus, there are only five films for the antebellum period, although the Depression includes 19 features and four documentaries. Still, the unexpected selections throughout should stimulate teachers to expand their syllabuses, although on occasion the "further viewing" selections for example, Roots arguably should have received greater prominence. This will work best in conjunction with numerous fine monographs on history and film, such as Mark Carnes's Past Imperfect and Joseph Roquemore's History Goes to the Movies. Recommended for all academic and public libraries. Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

America Before the Civil War The Civil War, 1861-1865
The Way West, and America's Two Solitudes, 1840-1900
The Country versus the City: The Agrarian and Industrial Conflict, 1870-1940
Immigration and the Challenge to Anglo-Conformity, 1885-1961
World War One and Goodbye to All That, 1916-1933
The Great Depression, Documentary Expression, and Representing the Previously Unrepresented, 1929-1967
World War Two and the Individual Versus the Collective, 1933-1950s
Postwar Alienation and Despair, 1946-1962
Civil Rights and the Battle for Inclusion into the American Dream, 1949-Present
The Atomic Bomb, Cold War Paranoia, and the Expanding National Security State, 1946-Present Vietnam and the Things We Carry, 1954-Present
The Counter Culture Rebellion and the Quest for Authenticity, 1961-Present
Watergate, Political Cynicism, and Hope, 1972-Present
Appendix: Multicultural Films
Appendix: Woman-centered Films Title
General Index