Social Education 58(2), 1994, pp. 109-113
National Council for the Social Studies

The Smell of Celluloid in the Classroom:Five Great Movies That Teach

Julie Johnson and Colby Vargas

[F]ilm without the American contribution is unimaginable. The fact that film has been the most potent vehicle of the American imagination suggests all the more strongly that movies have something to tell us not just about the surfaces, but about the mysteries of American life.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in American History/American Film Haven't you noticed? There's nothing the Yanks do, from making love to making war, that doesn't end in a &Mac222;lm. Must be written into their Constitution.

Andrew Dalziel, in Recalled to Life by Reginald Hill
Lines such as "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," the trenchant "Rosebud," or "Go ahead . . . make my day" conjure vivid images for many Americans. The characters behind these lines have become American archetypes, and the &Mac222;lms themselves, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, and Dirty Harry, have become a definitive element of twentieth-century American identity. Although the silver screen is certainly no flawless mirror of our culture, it has been a potent force in American society throughout the twentieth century; for this reason, any course that studies American culture should draw in some manner from our country's cinematic archives.
For one hundred years, the development of the &Mac222;lm industry in America has been linked to such key historical concerns as the expansion of urban culture, the mushrooming of technology, the population and industrial boom in California, and, perhaps most important, the growth of a coherent national culture and identity. The early golden age of movies was in many ways a golden age for America. In Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies, Robert Sklar (1975, 3) notes that "the two decades from 1890 to 1910 span the gap from the beginning of motion pictures to their firm establishment as mass entertainment; they are also the years when the United States transformed itself into a predominantly urban industrial society." Cinema is probably the most democratic of arts in its audience appeal. The thesis of Sklar's book is that cinema and urban industrialization progressed hand-in-hand, with movies becoming our most important medium of culture, "from the bottom up, receiving their principal support from the lowest and most influential classes in American society" (3). For the first time, Americans all over the continent of different classes, races, and literacy levels were exposed to the same culture and art almost simultaneously. Furthermore, movies have proved vital long beyond their initial golden age, and have withstood the challenges of television and home video.

While the integral place of &Mac222;lm in United States cultural history is irrefutable, feature-length movies are primarily an unexplored educational resource. Our own use of cinema in teaching a combined U.S. history/U.S. literature course to high school juniors springs from the following specific convictions:

1. Current research on the multiple intelligences we all possess stresses that some people are predominantly visual learners. Even discounting this, many of today's students, products as they are of the television and video revolutions, are more comfortable with visual images than with written material. Feature &Mac222;lms are therefore a link to written historical sources and to literature, providing another perspective and motivating students to explore written materials.

2. In providing a lasting, unchanging visual record, movies preserve details of life that may not be communicated or appreciated in writing. Feature films and documentaries are in this way a valuable complement to the history and literature we teach, graphically depicting times, places, and experiences unfamiliar to students.

3. Movies often dramatize themes and ideas from history and literature in ways that amplify and illuminate these issues for students, sparking synthesis and higher-order questioning.

4. Films are an important art form in their own right, deserving of aesthetic and critical attention because of their importance to American history and literature and because of their pervasiveness in our culture.

5. The feature film stands as a gauge of the tastes and ideologies of the American masses. In this light, movies are essential sources for the cultural historian, who seeks to create a complete picture of an entire culture, during different eras and at all ethnic, racial, social, economic, and artistic levels. Films are the creation of both entrepreneurs and artists, who, though frequently at odds, together define and critique our culture.

During the summers of 1992 and 1993, we worked to create a small but select annotated bibliography of American films for classroom use. What follows is a detailed discussion of &Mac222;ve of these &Mac222;lms, chosen because each has come to play a vital role in a major unit of our American culture course. Along with some commentary on each movie, we suggest specific ways to link it to history and literature in the curriculum. For each &Mac222;lm, we also provide questions for teachers to help make it a catalyst for class discussion.

Black Robe
Director: Bruce Beresford. 1991. 101 minutes. Color.
This Canadian &Mac222;lm is the story of a French Catholic missionary trying to convert the Iroquois and Huron tribes in the Great Lakes region of upstate New York beginning in 1634. When it was released, the movie was overshadowed by the flashier, higher-budget American Indian &Mac222;lm Dances with Wolves (1990), but Black Robe is a &Mac222;ne &Mac222;lm, especially noteworthy for its realistic portrayal of American Indians and French colonists in the seventeenth century. Iroquois customs, in all of their splendor and brutality, stagger the viewer, although their real savagery comes into question when the film compares the actions of Indians with European colonists.

Black Robe focuses on the historical clash between European and American Indian cultures and religions. At the center of the &Mac222;lm is Black Robe, a Jesuit priest who has come from France to bring his Christian God to the North American "savages." A complex man with very human conflicts and desires, Black Robe becomes the focal point of a struggle between humans' animal nature and civilization-more particularly, religion-in its most confining and repressive forms. The movie depicts hostility and warfare among American Indian tribes, a romance between a young French Canadian man and a young Huron woman, the physical difficulties of winter life and travel in the seventeenth century, the burning commitment of the Jesuit priests who took on this dangerous work, and the puzzled, often human, often violent reactions of the American Indians when the white man began to move in. The &Mac222;lm makes no attempt at a happy ending, but rather preserves a relentless realism to the &Mac222;nale, which is based on historical fact.

Be aware that this film carries an R rating because of some graphic scenes of sex and violence. Our students have felt that these scenes are entirely appropriate and natural, integrated as they are into the context of American Indian life at the time of the &Mac222;lm. The scenes carry some shock value but they are in no way gratuitous; rather, they contribute in an essential way to the film's messages.

The camera work of Black Robe is admirable throughout, as are the sets and props. The movie is a painstakingly made period piece which should be shown in its entirety, not excerpted. The plot and characters follow a tight path throughout, and the &Mac222;nal statement on the screen at the very end of the &Mac222;lm-an epilogue of sorts-is absolutely essential for full impact.

We recommend showing this film early in the year in any American history, literature, or culture class. It defines the difficulties faced by early European settlers, and it dramatizes memorably the clashes of culture and religion that characterized seventeenth-century life on this continent. The &Mac222;lm is an excellent accompaniment to early American Indian literature and history, as well as to the study of Puritan culture. We show the &Mac222;lm after students have read The Scarlet Letter, and the parallels between the book and the &Mac222;lm are striking. The two works are set around the same time; both feature "men of the cloth" in torment, unstrung by the archetypal Puritan conßict between their human desires and their sense of what religion demands of them; both works show nature and society at odds, with individuals caught in between; both works highlight the physical hardship and loneliness that characterized life in the New World for the first European settlers; and both works feature the clash of cultural extremes. The &Mac222;lm brings into focus the question of European expansion and settlement for our students.

Students are eager to explore this film, and we recommend the following discussion questions, used &Mac222;rst with small groups, and then in a larger class unit: What are the salient traits of the American Indian cultures depicted in the &Mac222;lm? Which traits strike you as positive? Which as negative? What motivates Black Robe and the other Jesuits who come to colonize North America? Why do the Hurons agree to take Black Robe inland? In what scenes and on what issues is the cultural clash between the American Indians and the French most apparent? Is the romance between Daniel and Annuka desirable or a bad idea? Is Black Robe admirable, or foolish, or both? Were the Jesuits justi&Mac222;ed in bringing their religion to American Indians? Were the European settlers justi&Mac222;ed in coming to North America? Did anything positive come of Black Robe's quest, or was his life's work futile?

This film will help generate controversial and penetrating questions about the American experience, and scenes and questions arising from this movie will reverberate throughout the entire year. When we study the eventual fates of American Indians under American expansionism, students draw on vivid impressions from this film. In any typical group of students, this film will also create philosophical, moral, and ethical dialogues that reach outside the American experience.

Roger and Me
Director: Michael Moore. 1989. 91 minutes. Color, with black and white.
This splendid documentary about the closing of a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan, in the mid-1980s focuses on the resulting dire consequences for the city of Flint and, in a larger sense, for American society.

The &Mac222;lm begins with some &Mac222;ne period footage from the early 1950s, featuring a triumphant parade to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the General Motors plant in Flint. Director Michael Moore, at one time editor of Mother Jones magazine, narrates appealingly in the &Mac222;rst person and with wry humor throughout the movie. The film then moves into the present day in Flint and highlights Moore's attempts to have a personal interview with Roger Smith, the president of General Motors, to urge him not to close the Flint plant. Smith is never available to Moore, but the newly unemployed workers of Flint are, and the &Mac222;lm zeros in on their growing poverty and frustration.

This is a &Mac222;lm about class warfare in America, and in particular about the gulf between the "haves" and the "have-nots" that became increasingly visible during the 1980s. Actually, the film applies to all American history since the Industrial Revolution. It focuses on labor relations, the drawbacks of unfettered capitalism, contemporary urban problems, disillusionment with the American Dream, and how different people deal with adversity and disappointment.

Roger and Me challenges several commonly held American ideas, such as the tenet that anyone can succeed in America through hard work; the notion that people get the lives they deserve; and &Mac222;nally, the philosophy that "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." The film brings out these issues in a tight, humorous way, without the dull moments that occasionally mar even the best of documentaries. Strikingly ironic visual and verbal juxtapositions are Moore's forte in this movie. For example, in one scene viewers see the management class in Flint having a Great Gatsby party at a prestigious country club, complete with local citizens who have been hired to act as "human statues" for a novel decorative note. The guests complain about people who "don't try" and who are giving Flint a bad name. Immediately after this commentary the camera cuts to an eviction officer, going about his daily task of ousting unemployed workers from their modest homes. The juxtaposition is dramatic. Moore also uses his soundtrack ingeniously for memorable effects. At one point a jobless worker on camera speaks movingly of how discouraged he has become, and of how he wept one day when he heard the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" on the radio. Moore immediately blasts into this upbeat, wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-all-our-dreams-came-true song, but brilliantly uses it as the musical backdrop for panning shots of the many abandoned, boarded-up, decaying houses of Flint.

We have used this &Mac222;lm, with good results, as the centerpiece in a unit on problems of twentieth-century capitalism. After studying the American version of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent industrialization and urbanization, we study the "success story" of the 1920s, examining F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as, among other things, a novel about capitalism and class divisions it fostered. Then, we show Roger and Me.

Students are morally and intellectually stimulated by this film, and they immediately see many parallels between it and The Great Gatsby. We have them discuss the following questions, &Mac222;rst in small groups and then altogether: Was General Motors justified in closing its Flint plant? What might the company have done instead, and what might have been the consequences of these alternative options? How far does an employer's obligation to employees extend? Why do poverty and unemployment exist in our economy? How should we address these problems? Should big business be regulated and, if so, how? Is there anything "great" about Gatsby's rise to wealth, or is he merely a greedy, immoral man? How does Roger Smith stand up to the same analysis?

When students are heatedly debating the pros and cons of capitalism, we use this movie as a pivot into the 1930s, at which point we examine the causes and consequences of the Depression. We also probe those struggles by reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Our experience has been that students are far more interested in the larger issues of the Depression and in Steinbeck's novel because they have seen and discussed Roger and Me. The themes of the film are in both Fitzgerald's and Steinbeck's novels-and in the failure of capitalism during the Depression as well. From the 1930s it is easy to move forward into the 1980s, comparing the recession of the late '80s to the earlier breakdown of the system. Students enjoy exploring the conflicts capitalism engenders. Roger and Me, both funny and sad, forces present-day students to confront some of the salient problems of contemporary America, triggering debate on what we might be able to do about those problems.

Modern Times
Director: Charlie Chaplin. 1936. 90 minutes. Black and white.
One of the last silent &Mac222;lms made and arguably the greatest, Modern Times features Charlie Chaplin, the master of silent film, as both its star and its director. The movie gives an exaggerated but telling view of the Depression and its devastating effect on the American psyche and, in a larger sense, of the industrialization that swept the United States from the late nineteenth century on. Chaplin's character holds a job on a factory assembly line, where he performs the same maddening task repeatedly. Although Chaplin &Mac222;lls the movie with his own brand of physical humor, a serious statement emerges about the dehumanizing effect of modern industry.

Unable to handle his monotonous job (he actually becomes temporarily insane), Chaplin's character takes to the streets, where he meets a beautiful waif (Paulette Goddard) who has turned to a life of crime because of the Depression. Together they try repeatedly, and futilely, to get their heads above water in America's failed capitalist system. They do, however, get each other.

Modern Times is technically an advanced movie. Realistic sound effects have been dubbed over the silent &Mac222;lm, and the black and white photography is wonderfully crisp. Our students have had no trouble slipping into this "ancient" art form; they have been entertained by the film and impressed by its artistry.

We have used this &Mac222;lm successfully as part of our study of industrialization and urbanization in early twentieth-century America. The &Mac222;lm dramatizes some of the problems that accompanied these movements. For example, the issue of job alienation is obvious when the Chaplin character keeps turning the same two bolts all day on the assembly line, mind-numbing work that involves no vision of the &Mac222;nal product he is helping to create. The problems of unemployment and labor-management relations are apparent when the Chaplin character loses his job and takes to the streets, which are full of other unemployed or striking workers. The large gaps between the wealthy and the poor in urban environments are evident in the &Mac222;lm, which also explores how the poverty-stricken rely on ingenuity and sometimes criminal activity to survive. Further, the &Mac222;lm depicts a society in the unrelenting grip of technology, hilariously parodying our obsession with gadgetry in a famous eating machine scene. Here the Chaplin character (whose lack of a name itself makes a comment about twentieth-century industrialization) is the passive victim of society's labor-saving technology.

Chaplin's brilliant comedic creation is often considered a period-piece of the Depression, and does capture the mood of that period. But the questions raised by Chaplin's hapless struggles against the factory and the system speak to problems that arrived in America with the Industrial Revolution. Thus, the &Mac222;lm can complement units on industrialization, urbanization, the American underclass, or the Depression itself. Chaplin's frustration with industry rings true even today.

The following are some discussion questions we have given students in conjunction with Modern Times: What have been the advantages of industrialization for America? What problems has industrialization created in our society? In what ways might we make factory work more humane for workers? How can we prevent technology in the form of labor-saving devices from putting people out of work? What urban problems does this movie dramatize? What solutions can you suggest for these problems? What possible solutions to his own problems did the Chaplin character encounter in the movie's urban setting? Although this movie was made in 1936, in what ways is it relevant for our society? How can we reduce the alienation some people feel in modern America?

If you choose to spend some class time on the history of cinema as an art form, Modern Times is of course a good vehicle. Its importance in &Mac222;lm history is well known and underscored by the enjoyment of modern audiences.

Apocalypse Now
Director: Francis Ford Coppola. 1979. 153 minutes. Color.
This two-and-a-half hour Francis Ford Coppola epic may have signaled the beginning of the healing process for America after the Vietnam War. It is very much about the Vietnam experience, encompassing the Vietnamese environment, the disillusioned American generation and culture of the late 1960s, and the questionable American motivation and politics of this Cold War episode. The movie also delves into the nature of war and the degree of violence inherent in human beings.

The &Mac222;lm is set in 1968. Lieutenant Willard, played by Martin Sheen, is sent inland from Saigon on a dangerous and mysterious river journey to assassinate one Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, an American blue-blood career of&Mac222;cer who has inexplicably gone insane and created his own jungle kingdom. Coppola brilliantly develops the parallels to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and the Vietnam experience emerges as surreal, depraved, terrifying, and ultimately, as insane as Kurtz.

Coppola explores his chosen media thoroughly. The cinematography, the soundtrack, the realistic dialogue, and the details of soldier dress and behavior conspire to recreate the constant attack on senses and sanity that was Vietnam for American soldiers.

The words and events of Apocalypse Now, although &Mac222;ctitious, paint an amazingly lucid portrait of the conflicts of this particular period of American history. Willard's narration and the words of many of those he meets reflect a growing realization that there is little point to this war. There is little or no connection between of&Mac222;cers and enlisted men. Willard and his fellows are under attack from such bizarre sources as spear-toting Montagnard natives, teenage girl villagers with bombs in their hats, and jungle tigers, reflecting America's dif&Mac222;culty in ever locating, identifying, or comprehending any enemy in Vietnam, while suggesting that the enemy was both without and within. This &Mac222;lm also de&Mac222;nes American anti-war art and literature; if any eternal truth can be taken away from the insanity of Willard's quest and Kurtz's vision, it is that humans are indeed brutal creatures.

We have found, without exception, that students are taken aback by the beauty and graphic violence, both physical and psychological, of this movie, which is rated R because of its violence, as well as its language. Apocalypse Now is powerful enough to raise major questions about Vietnam and war in general: What were America's short- and long-term goals in Vietnam? What do the main characters, Lt. Willard and Col. Kurtz, tell us about human nature? What were the effects of this war on veterans and their entire generation? Is Kurtz's evaluation of America, and humans in general, as "animalistic" accurate? Are we still capable of the mistakes and atrocities of Vietnam? What were the mistakes?

There is no lack of artistic material dealing with Vietnam. We have successfully incorporated the &Mac222;ctional and autobiographical works of Philip Caputo (A Rumor of War), Tim O'Brien ("How to Tell a True War Story" and Going After Cacciato), Michael Herr (Dispatches), and Ron Kovic (Born on the Fourth of July); other thought-provoking &Mac222;lms include Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, and Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Apocalypse Now serves well as a motivator to lead off a Vietnam unit, posing questions that will turn up again in the study of the history of this war, or as a culminating epic to a unit that has included political history, &Mac222;lm clips, &Mac222;rst-hand accounts, and the writings of veterans. Almost any Vietnam-inspired work brings out similar themes to Apocalypse Now; we stand by this &Mac222;lm, though, as the best of the visual art triggered by the war because of the strength and artistry of its message and for the excellent job it does in drawing wide parallels to the Vietnam experience.

Do the Right Thing
Director: Spike Lee. 1989. 120 minutes. Color.
The plot of Do the Right Thing does not develop along conventional Hollywood lines. The movie is truly the story of one summer day, and a great deal of the &Mac222;lm is devoted to development of characters and setting. In this respect, the movie is successful on all counts. The viewer's experiences are roughly centered on Mookie (played by Lee himself), an African American who works for Sal, the last vestige of Italian America in the predominantly black Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Tensions mount throughout the movie, centering on economic disparity, distrust of the largely white police force, and subversion of African-American culture even in a predominantly African-American community. These tensions explode at Sal's Pizzeria, and Lee's resolution of the film is disturbingly accurate by historical standards.

Do the Right Thing has been highly acclaimed as a &Mac222;lm that accurately represents America's modern urban environment, and it vividly evokes the physicality, humanity, sights, and sounds of this New York neighborhood. But the &Mac222;lm serves also as a historical document. Viewers will wonder whether Do the Right Thing was produced before the Rodney King beatings of 1991 or the Los Angeles riots of 1992, because of how closely this &Mac222;lm parallels those events. Spike Lee's prototypical urban riot draws from the unrest of the entire civil rights movement of the 1960s, bringing to mind events in Watts, Harlem, Detroit, or Chicago, although the events of this film could take place in any American city.

Besides emphasizing the ongoing hostility between urban African Americans and the police in this country, Do the Right Thing analyzes the legacy of the leaders of the civil rights movement. Characters throughout the &Mac222;lm mention the ideologies of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers. One disabled African American, present at all the pivotal events of the film, peddles pictures of King and Malcolm X as a reminder of what has been won and lost.

As teachers of recent American history, we have used Do the Right Thing to capture several current trends in urban America. Although the changes taking place in America's cities today are not commonly included in academic histories, Lee's treatment of the subject shows how today's problems &Mac222;t the broad pattern of urban history. The multicultural nature of most of our cities is a focal point of the &Mac222;lm, culminating in Lee's well-known and masterfully rendered "name-calling scene." Lee also shows an awareness of the shifting nature of any urban neighborhood: the block used in this film is in economic, generational, and ethnic transition. The unemployed inhabitants of the corners of this neighborhood philosophize on American society, the responsibilities of people and the state, and the causes of poverty.

The literature of the civil rights era and of all African-American history complements and is complemented by Do the Right Thing. Many students note this fact early in the &Mac222;lm. Spike Lee's formative influences become obvious if one consults the writings of Martin Luther King, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, or Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice, as well as other Black Panther Party literature. Spike Lee is a part of today's students' world, and seems to carry more weight than speeches or novels of earlier decades. We show the film after reading Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, which, although written in 1947, works in many of the same ways as Lee's &Mac222;lm, creating characters and groups to exemplify many strands of thought in the African-American struggle for equality. Invisible Man also illustrates the importance of the city to African-American experience, and it culminates in a riot similar in circumstance to the climax of Do the Right Thing.

We have most often shown Do the Right Thing at the culmination of our study of the civil rights era, although it could function well in other capacities. The &Mac222;lm demands discussion, so teachers should try to schedule a serious block of time for this purpose, possibly in smaller groups. While the time may seem a sacri&Mac222;ce beforehand, this &Mac222;lm will engender a lively and relevant discussion. We confront students with questions such as these: What does Spike Lee suggest is the cause of urban unrest? Why is there so much tension among the racial and ethnic groups (Italian, Korean, African-American) depicted in this &Mac222;lm? Which of the ideologies, Martin Luther King's or Malcolm X's, seems more relevant and popular today? What seem to be the pressing problems facing American cities today? What has changed for African Americans since the civil rights movement?

We also insist that students use what they have seen in Do the Right Thing when writing about the civil rights movement. We ask them to identify the major strategies of the movement in literature and &Mac222;lm, and to compare these art forms with the historical record as they have encountered it.

Do the Right Thing has been rated R, because of the language used in the &Mac222;lm. While it is impossible to imagine an accurate portrayal of urban America without the level of profanity in Do the Right Thing, this may be a concern in some school settings.

Although Do the Right Thing has numerous messages to deliver about the American city and race relations today, all of its elements contribute to the &Mac222;lm's &Mac222;nal message. However, several scenes could be shown alone if time constraints demand: Vito, son of Sal, explains his problems with blacks (except for entertainers and athletes); white gentry steps on expensive sneakers of African-American neighbor; young African American displays his disgust with the older blacks of the neighborhood; and in the name-calling scene, a frank, obscene, yet humorous string of racial epithets are flung among Italian-, Asian-, and African-American participants.

We have chosen to write about these &Mac222;ve movies because each is a &Mac222;rst-rate &Mac222;lm, and because each has come to play an important role in our American culture classes. Whether educators choose to use these or other &Mac222;lms in their classrooms, we believe that any good American movie is both a source of entertainment and a rich cultural document-and that these two dimensions together make movies lively and engrossing teaching tools.

References
Agee, James. Agee on Film. New York: The Beacon Press, 1964.Arnheim, Rudolf. Film as Art. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1960.Battcock, Gregory. The New American Cinema. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1967.Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1977.Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, 1952.Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925.Haley, Alex, and Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Grove Press, 1964.Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Avon Books, 1978.Higham, Charles, and Joel Greenberg. The Celluloid Muse: Hollywood Directors Speak. New York: New American Library, 1969.-----. Hollywood in the Forties. New York: Paperback Library, 1970.Halliwell, Leslie. Film Guide. London: Granada Publishing, 1980.Kael, Pauline. 5001 Nights at the Movies. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1982.-----. Going Steady. New York: Bantam Books, 1971.-----. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.Kovic, Ron. Born on the Fourth of July. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976.MacGowan, Kenneth. Behind the Screen. New York: Delta Books, 1965.O'Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato. New York: Delacorte Press, 1978.-----. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1990.O'Connor, John, and Jackson, Martin. American History/American Film: Interpreting the Hollywood Image. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1979.Sarris, Andrew. Interviews with Film Directors. New York: Avon Books, 1967.Sklar, Robert. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies. New York: Vintage Books, 1975.Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking Press, 1939.Film Sources
Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola. United Artists, 1979. VHS, Beta. Paramount Home Video, Pioneer LDCA, Inc.Black Robe. Bruce Beresford. Samuel Goldwyn Home Entertainment, 1991. VHS. Vidmark Entertainment. Dances with Wolves. Kevin Costner. TIG Production, 1990. VHS, Beta. Orion Home Video, Facets Multimedia, Inc., Image Entertainment.Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. The Couturie Company, 1988. VHS, Beta. HBO Home Video, Ambrose Video Publishing, Inc. The Deer Hunter. Michael Cimino. Universal Pictures, 1978. VHS, Beta. MCA/Univeral Home Video, Facets Multimedia, Inc., Baker and Taylor Video. Do the Right Thing. Spike Lee. 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Universal Pictures, 1989. VHS, Beta, LV. MCA/Universal Home Video.Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick. Warner Brothers, 1987. VHS, Beta, LV, 8mm. Warner Home Video, Inc., Facets Multimedia, Inc. Modern Times. Charlie Chaplin. United Artists, 1936. VHS, Beta. CBS/Fox Video. Platoon. Oliver Stone. Hemdale, 1986. VHS, Beta, LV. Live Home Video, HBO Home Video, Baker and Taylor Video. Roger and Me. Michael Moore. Dog Eat Dog Productions, 1989. VHS, Beta, LV. Warner Home Video, Inc.Julie Johnson and Colby Vargas teach American interdisciplinary studies at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. In the summers of 1992 and 1993, they developed a resource guide of American feature films useful for the classroom. While some have speculated that Julie and Colby are merely frustrated directors posing as educators, they continue to explore the effective use of this medium in their classes.

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