The death of American idealism in postwar cinema and new Hollywood

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Ryan, Matthew
Harrelson, Kevin J. d1976-
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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Peacetime in the wake of the Second World War brought about certain idealism and with it major changes in the lives of American citizens. The idea of the American Dream had a make over that now included a house in the suburbs with a husband or wife and kids, maybe a dog or a cat. To secure such dreams a growing middle class began to take hold, which along with blowback from the war itself began a population boom through new growing families. A growing backlash to United States involvement in conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia along with rejection of post war idealism led to a great renaissance in the arts. Independent cinema in America began to grow and take hold with the New Hollywood movement with small independent production companies like BBS Productions. Along with this renaissance, many men and women in film and theatre emigrated from Europe during the reconstruction period to find jobs in the industry in or around Hollywood. The analysis of three films from this period, All That Heaven Allows (1955), Five Easy Pieces (1970), and The Last Picture Show (1971) embody changes in ways of living and growing disillusionment in individual's lives. I analyze these three films for their aesthetic and cultural value as artifacts of their time period.