Robert P. KolkerMar 25, 2022
Triumph Over Containment
American Film in the 1950s
Rutgers University Press 2021
The long 1950s, which extend back to the early postwar period and forward into the early 1960s, were a period of “containment culture” in America, as the media worked to reinforce traditional family values and suspected communist sympathizers were blacklisted from the entertainment industry. Yet some brave filmmakers and actors still challenged the status quo to produce indelible and imaginative work that delivered uncomfortable truths to Cold War audiences.
Triumph Over Containment: American Film in the 1950s (Rutgers University Press, 2021) offers an uncompromising look at some of the era’s greatest films and directors, from household names like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick to lesser-known iconoclasts like Samuel Fuller and Ida Lupino. Taking in everything from The Thing from Another World (1951) to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), acclaimed film scholar Robert P. Kolker scours a variety of different genres to find pockets of resistance to the repressive and oppressive norms of Cold War culture. He devotes special attention to two quintessential 1950s genres—the melodrama and the science fiction film—that might seem like polar opposites, but each offered pointed responses to containment culture.
This book takes a fresh look at such directors as Nicholas Ray, John Ford, and Orson Welles, while giving readers a new appreciation for the depth and artistry of 1950s Hollywood films.
Nathan Abrams is a professor of film at Bangor University in Wales. His most recent work is on film director Stanley Kubrick. To discuss and propose a book for interview you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ndabrams