updated edition of history and critique of action films
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER - Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Eric Lichtenfeld. Globe Pequot Press, Middletown, CT; www.wesleyan.edu/wespress; firstname.lastname@example.org. 2007 (first edition 2004). $24.95 trade paper; ISBN 0-8195-6801-5. illustrations, notes, index.
Lichtenfeld has worked both in making films and as a film critic and commentator, including doing extra features for DVDs of several action films. He sees this popular film genre as "derived from the Western, film noir, and the police procedural (with special guest appearances made by the disaster film and others [with an evolution] quite analogous to the horror film." Though many films depict violence and mayhem, the action film is distinguished in that it ushered in a "new violence [which] would be deployed more to pleasure audiences than to jar them." This "new violence" came about from a shift in standards marking a "New Hollywood" and related changes in structures and pacing of films and cinematographic techniques such as lingering on the violence by slow-motion and close-ups. It is these and other elements, not merely the violence and plotting, which account for the new genre of the action film. The cluster of elements reflected changes in the culture's psychic relationship with violence and what it looked for in entertainment. Bonnie and Clyde is pointed to as a seminal action film, with the films Billy Jack, Shaft, and The French Connection closely related to it in paving the way for the action film by demonstrating its popularity and giving guidance for filmmakers. Advertising, publicity, and marketing of action films has as much a part in the author's multifaceted study of this major contemporary film genre as film history, film editing, and cinematography. References to numerous action films over the past couple of decades make for enjoyable as well as engaging and stimulating reading.