The Cold War on Film

ABC-CLIO. (Hollywood History). Jul. 2021. 166p. ISBN 9781440872129. $63. REF
In this work about depictions of the Cold War in pop culture, Frazier (history, Gateway Community Coll., KY; Germany at War) covers nine films and one TV series. For each, he offers a plot synopsis, brief critical analysis, and historical background, then delves into the artistic aspects of the work, its cultural context, and its critical reception. Each entry also includes a list of further reading. The earliest of the films that Frazier examines is from the start of the Cold War (The Third Man, 1949), while the latest (Charlie Wilson’s War, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridge of Spies, and the FX show The Americans) are from the 21st century. The book is part of ABC-CLIO’s “Hollywood History” series, which intends to address the accuracy of films and what they say about the eras in which they were made. This focus sometimes limits Frazier’s book; for instance, he doesn’t cover Atomic Age monster movies like Them! or communist allegories like Invasion of the Body Snatchers; the most fantastical works are The Manchurian Candidate and From Russia with Love. The USSR produced many great films in the Cold War era, but most didn’t deal with contemporary matters and so fall outside Frazier’s scope.
VERDICT It’s difficult to decide whom this volume is suited to. The history is accurate but very brief, while the film discussion is largely consumed by plot synopses. Not recommended.
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