Spring 2009

Volume 4, Issue 1



A Brief History of American Cinema


A woman is tied to the railroad tracks
Is locked in a tower
Has just realized her
Husband is her father
Her son is her brother
She is her mother and sister

A man leaves his homeland stows away on a ship
Hops a freight train in the moonlight
Thumbs a ride into town
He shares a name with a killer
His face reminds them of somebody else
He can ride a horse like the wind
He learned to shoot before he could read
He will die for his woman
His best friend
And his country

There were children who never lost faith in their fathers
Soldiers who swore they’d never retreat
Battles that could always be won in spite of the odds
Boxers who could survive any beating
Detectives who never had cases that were too tough to crack
There were cowboys and thieves and pirates and mutes

We loved the disabled the wounded the lovely the bold
A good car chase
A great final kiss
A joke in the midst of a death scene
Blue-collar values
Midwestern prairies
Masked men in capes
Women in nothing at all

Somewhere in America tonight
Chaplin restores sight to a blind girl
Lauren Bacall asks for a light for her cigarette
John Wayne walks slowly into a bar
Harrison Ford wisecracks through outer space

And a child grows up to realize it is he who must save the world
From an imminent Russian invasion
Because the aliens have already landed
A meteor is about to strike earth
The oceans will freeze over and the mountains will crumble
If the evil king in an eye-patch gets his onerous way



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© 2009 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture