Hollywood's Vietnam, 1929-1964: Scripting intervention, spotlighting injustice

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Before 1965 and the introduction of the first official American combat troops, the political unrest and revolutionary insurgency in Vietnam had already appeared in nearly a dozen Hollywood films. Yet while the anti-communist politics of these productions was predictable, it would be a mistake to view them as mere vehicles for Cold War propaganda. Although they served that obvious function, early American filmmakers who set their pictures in Vietnam also constructed the area as a childlike place in need of U.S. tutelage and instruction. At the same time, Vietnam became, by the 1950s, ironically transformed into a site of contestation over American values, especially with respect to race and gender. Drawing on rare prints of these early motion pictures, as well as numerous archival documents, this article spotlights the Indochinese conflict that was screened in the decades before Hollywood, in the 1970s and 1980s, began to perhaps forever reimage the war in American memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-607
Number of pages30
JournalPacific Historical Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


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