Re-viewing the Long Fifties: Popular Genre Films and American Culture



Walske, Jared, “Re-viewing the Long Fifties: Popular Genre Films and American Culture,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed January 16, 2021,


Re-viewing the Long Fifties: Popular Genre Films and American Culture


Walske, Jared




This thesis will examine the portrayal of American culture in several genre movies that were made during the Long Fifties (roughly 1945 to 1963) and were adapted from original books, short stories, and similar written works. These films will be noir, westerns, and science fiction movies. I focus on both the films and the stories they were adapted from, the films will be the primary focus of this thesis. The written stories will be a secondary focus and will be used to comment on how the culture of the period helped determine how the stories were adapted for the screen. Through my close analysis of the works, I will show both how these films and stories conform to or reinforce what is generally seen as accepted normal behavior and attitudes during the period and when they subvert, complicate, or otherwise go against these norms. In particular, I will examine why many of these films were able to challenge the accepted beliefs of the period they were made in with minimal public backlash. This thesis will argue that these films were able to do so because of their genres, which were seen as genres purely made for entertainment and not worth the level of critical attention given to more accepted film genres like drama or comedy. By choosing to set their arguments in these genres, the story writers and filmmakers were able to openly critique the society they lived in without attracting unwanted attention.


Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)


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Masters Theses