From El Dorado to Lost Horizons

Traditionalist Films in the Hollywood Renaissance, 1967-1972

By Ken Windrum

Subjects: Film Studies, American Culture, American History
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Hardcover : 9781438473970, 218 pages, April 2019
Paperback : 9781438473963, 218 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: 1967: Searching for El Dorado

1. Big-Budget Musicals

2. War Spectacles

3. Naughty Sex Comedies

4. The Last Roundup

Conclusion: 1972: Lost Horizons

Works Cited
Index of Films

Investigates how musicals, war films, sex comedies, and Westerns dealt with contentious issues during a time of change in Hollywood.


The era known as the Hollywood Renaissance is celebrated as a time when revolutionary movies broke all the rules of the previous "classical" era as part of the ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yet many films during this era did not overtly smash the system but provided more traditional entertainment, based on popular genres, for a wider audience than the youth culture who flocked to more transgressive fare. Ken Windrum focuses on four genres of traditionalist movies—big-budget musicals, war spectacles, "naughty" sex comedies, and Westerns. From El Dorado to Lost Horizons shows how even seemingly innocuous, family-oriented films still participated in the progressive aspects of the time while also holding a conservative point of view. Windrum analyzes representations of issues including gender roles, marriage, sexuality, civil rights, and Cold War foreign policy, revealing how these films dealt with changing times and reflected both status quo positions and new attitudes. He also examines how the movies continued or deviated from classical principles of structure and style. Windrum provides a counter-history of the Hollywood Renaissance by focusing on a group of important films that have nevertheless been neglected in scholarly accounts.

Ken Windrum is Assistant Professor of Cinema at Los Angeles Pierce College.


"This book is detailed and insightful in discussing the traditional (classical) and maverick (but ultimately recuperative) qualities of the mainstream films of the period. Windrum's discussion of the narrative structure and stylistic elements of the films, both classical and innovative, is a highlight of the book. " — Glenn Man, author of Radical Visions: American Film Renaissance, 1967–1976