BOOK DATA Charles R. Acland, American Blockbuster: Movies, Technology, and Wonder. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2020. $109.95 cloth, $29.95 paper, $16.57 e-book. 400 pages.

As Dwight Eisenhower was about to leave the White House in 1961, he warned ominously of the “military-industrial complex,” a mutually beneficial alliance (today, some say conspiracy) between the Pentagon and defense contractors that greatly enriched the latter.

In American Blockbuster, Charles R. Acland shows that well before Eisenhower’s farewell speech the movie industry had already witnessed the rise of an entertainment-technological complex sparked by the release of Samson and Delilah (Cecil B. DeMille, 1949), a movie that critic Bosley Crowther wrote “brought together the Old Testament and Technicolor” (125). It was described by film historian Thomas Schatz as “the first studio-produced calculated blockbuster box office effort in years” (125). Yet back then, “blockbuster” referred not to a movie spectacular but...

You do not currently have access to this content.