An Army of Phantoms
American Movies and the Making of the Cold War
By J. Hoberman
New Press, The, Hardcover, 9781595580054, 432pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
List Price: $29.95*
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An Army of Phantoms is a major new work of history and film criticism from the highly regarded critic J. Hoberman. Here he applies the same dynamic synergy of American politics and American popular culture to the Cold War’s first decade that he brought to the 1960s in the critically acclaimed The Dream Life.
The years between 1946 and 1956 brought U.S. dominance over Europe and a new war in Asia, as well as the birth of the civil rights movement and the stirrings of a new youth culture. The period saw the movie industry purged of its political left while the rise of ideological action hero John Wayne came to dominate theaters. Analyzing movies and media events, Hoberman has organized a pageant of cavalry Westerns, apocalyptic sci-fi flicks, and biblical spectaculars wherein Cecil B. DeMille rubs shoulders with Douglas MacArthur, atomic tests are shown on live TV, God talks on the radio, and Joe McCarthy is bracketed with Marilyn Monroe. Here is a history of film that is also, to paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard, about the film of history.
Essential reading for film and history buffs, An Army of Phantoms recasts a crucial era in the light of the silver screen.
"In An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War, Village Voice critic J. Hoberman frames 1945 to 1956 in Hollywood's assumption that 'fantasy could be instrumentalized.' Fantasies include the voice of God on the radio, invasions from outer space, Westerns and a teenage menace. Monstrous ambitions beget screen monsters in this erudite study that's essential for anyone interested in American film....An Army of Phantoms is the prequel to Hoberman's earlier study of the 1960s, The Dream Life. Next he targets the Reagan 1980s. This Cold War saga will make you impatient for it."
—San Francisco Chronicle