This is an ambitious book. It attempts to condense and explain in simple terms the history and techniques of the cinematic arts in the U.S. -- identifying the great innovators and the socio-economic causes underlying the major themes of the outstanding movies over the decades. It certainly fills a gap. Yet, there are some ""buts"". The reading line is too long for comfort. (Living in a glass house doesn't prevent us from pitching bricks.) There has been an imaginative use of white space to help balance this out, but that has meant the reduction to postage stamp size of the stills illustrating the text. These disadvantages undoubtedly kept the price of the book within reach and despite them we recommend that you do reach. As is usual with the adult books in this field, the early years are the ones most thoroughly covered. The last chapters are full of shrewd comment on American films of the '50's and '60's -- the swollen budgets, the tastelessly handled themes and the vicious cost spiral of the star system. Late movies and silent film TV shows bring the chance to see the titles here discussed within almost everyone's reach. It provides a knowledgeable, eye-opening account for the movies' biggest audience.