History by Hollywood by Robert Toplin
The Use and Abuse of the American Past

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Synopsis

Just what happens to history when Hollywood film-makers get their hands on it? The nation's film capital is one of our most influential interpreters of history, according to Robert Brent Toplin, so much so that popular movies dealing with historical themes often have a greater impact on the public's thinking than books or lectures. In "History by Hollywood", Toplin examines how film-makers have interpreted American history through their films. Focusing on movies that deal with real events and people, Toplin looks at how writers, producers, and directors became involved in making historical films, what influenced their interpretations of the past, and the responses they have made to the controversies their works have excited. Toplin recognizes the danger of excessive artistic license and understands the importance of creative imagination in designing memorable portrayals for the screen. Basing his analyses on a realistic appreciation of the challenges film-makers face, he effectively measures the strengths and weaknesses of Hollywood's presentation of history. Readers will find food for thought and discussion in Toplin's examinations of "Mississippi Burning", "JFK", "Sergeant York", "Missing", "Bonnie and Clyde", "Patton", "All the President's Men", and "Norma Rae". Robert Brent Toplin, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is the author of many books and articles on film and history and on United States and Latin American history. He has been principal creator of a number of PBS and Disney Channel films and is film review editor of the "Journal of American History".
 

About Robert Toplin

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About the Editor: Robert Brent Toplin is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and the Film Review editor of The Journal of American History. He is also the principal developer of four historical dramas that have appeared nationally on PBS Television.
 
Published July 1, 1996 by University of Illinois Press. 267 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Even JFK, Mississippi Burning and Missing, the films Toplin censures most, earn credit for, respectively, reexamining both Kennedy's Vietnam policy and the Warren report, recreating a grisly vision of the racist South and sounding a warning about U.S. misdeeds abroad.

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HistoryNet

Focusing on eight films–All the President's Men, Bonnie andClyde, JFK, Missing, Patton, Mississippi Burning, Norma Rae, and Sergeant York, the author demonstrates how dramaticinterpretations of the past presented in popular films can, by reaching millions of movie-goers, influence the public'sund...

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Project MUSE

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Project MUSE

A professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the film review editor of the Journal of American History, Toplin writes regularly on film and history, and most recently edited Ken Burns' 'The Civil War': Historians Respond, a collection of scholarly essays (and medit...

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