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I'm not sure I agree.  If one considers only the classical Hollywood cinema,
then the argument is probably valid.  However, genre definitions become
particularly sticky in the post-classical cinema, especially post-"Star
Wars."  Consider, for example, "True Lies" (or any of several other
Schwarzenegger pics: "Predator," "Last Action Hero," "Commando," "Eraser"
and "The Running Man" leap to mind).  While the plot of "True Lies"
ostensibly places the film in the "espionage" or perhaps "thriller" genre,
the film's emphasis on stunts, spectacle, special effects, and the
celebrity/brand name of Schwarzenegger as action hero completely overshadow
the "espionage" elements of the film.  Films in which the primary element or
attraction is "action" constitute a de facto action genre.  Reviewers label
these types of films "action" films; they're marketed as action films;
they're aimed at a well-defined demographic of action film fans.  Most
importantly, filmgoers generally know what to expect when they are told a
film is an "action" film, and I think most of us on the list have some idea
what an "action" film is.  Aren't audience expectation and recognition the
primary factors in defining a genre?
 
I see that the Library of Congress does not list "action" as a genre in its
Moving Image Genre Guide; it labels "Speed"--which I would argue is an
"action" film--a "thriller," probably because of the terrorism and
"countdown" element.  I think the difference between a "thriller" and an
"action" film is subtle but worthy of narrowing down.  I mean, if there's a
"Fallen woman" genre--I probably would've lumped that one in with
"(melo)drama" or "women's pictures"--why not a separate genre for the "Die
Hard" plot?  When I tell an action fan that "Passenger 57" is "Die Hard on a
Plane" and "Under Siege" is "Die Hard on a Boat," they know what to expect.
 
At 06:43 PM 6/9/98 -0400, you wrote:
>> Date:    Fri, 5 Jun 1998 18:18:49 +0100
>> From:    Ingvald Bergsagel <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Action as genre
>>
>> Does anyone know of genre-studies done on action-films? I've found plenty
>> on western, noir, gangster, sci-fi, adventure and other related genres, in
>> addition to (naturaly) writings on screen-violence mentioning classic
>> action-flicks, but nobody seems to have analysed action as a genre.
>
>I think the reason is, as I suggest in my book on the historical adventure
>genre, because "action" itself is not a genre.  The types you've mentioned
>above are genres, whereas action is a style uniting them.  The word action
>itself does not imply a specific type of story or formula, but rather a
>way of treating a story and an emphasis on certain types of elements.
>Action is a male-oriented approach dependent on physical movement,
>violence, and suspense, with often perfunctory motivation and romance.
>Action tends to shift sentiment, character, dialogue, and family to the
>background.  In action films a hero succeeds by facing death, courageously
>overcoming dangers and adversaries.  Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Shane,
>the Thief of Bagdad, Luke Skywalker, and Robin Hood are, I would argue,
>all action heroes--but each belongs to a separate genre (mystery,
>espionage, western, fantasy, science fiction, historical adventure,
>respectively).
>
>
>Brian Taves
>Motion Picture/Broadcasting/Recorded Sound Division
>Library of Congress
>101 Independence Avenue, S.E.    Washington, D.C.  20540-4692
>Telephone:  202-707-9930; 202-707-2371 (fax)
>Email:  [log in to unmask]
>
>
>Disclaimer--All opinions expressed are my own.
>
>----
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
>http://www.tcf.ua.edu/screensite
>
>
Patricia Scheiern Lewis
Dept. of English
University of Chicago
[log in to unmask]
http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/pslewis/
 
Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggie" until you can find a rock.
 
----
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/screensite