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A type of film usually dealing with small-town America and seeking to convey what is considered a characteristic or typical American way of life. This movie type has changed as much over the years as America’s vision of itself has changed. While ostensibly concerned with transmitting the life and culture of the small town, these films are always reflective of the times more than place. In the ‘40s and ’50s, stories about small-town folk (It’s a Wonderful Life) were, more often than not, depictions of the innocence and purity of the heart of America. In the ’60s, while this vein continued, another emerged — that of the country in the midst of… Read more

A type of film usually dealing with small-town America and seeking to convey what is considered a characteristic or typical American way of life. This movie type has changed as much over the years as America’s vision of itself has changed. While ostensibly concerned with transmitting the life and culture of the small town, these films are always reflective of the times more than place. In the ‘40s and ’50s, stories about small-town folk (It’s a Wonderful Life) were, more often than not, depictions of the innocence and purity of the heart of America. In the ’60s, while this vein continued, another emerged — that of the country in the midst of upheaval. Films like East of Eden began to hint that all was not well in the countryside. In the ’70s and on into the ’80s, a palpable malevolence begins to seep into Americana, culminating in the dangerous children of Badlands and, later, the films of David Lynch. Like a broken carnival mirror, the genre began to reflect a distorted and violent country, out of control and out of touch with itself. Several films in the ’90s, such as A River Runs Through It), have attempted to restore the old purity and positive values of down-home folk, with mixed results.

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