10 Movies That Revolutionized American Film Culture

american film culture

When we look at all that’s come of films to this very day, you can see a wide variety of different influences mixed together to create what we know and love. Many genres and film types have all been introduced in the past at some point or another with this article aiming to point out 10 particular films that influenced American film culture to the point where it became a notable trend during a following period.


10. It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night Still

The Great Depression was a time of sorrow and hardship for many people around the world, particularly in America where the loss of the Roaring Twenties hurt not just the economy, but the confidence of working class citizens.

Helping to boost everyone’s ego was the birth of the screwball comedy genre. Screwball comedies basically revolve around stories where the male protagonist’s masculinity is constantly challenged by the female protagonist. The films were instrumental in boosting the careers of many known stars including: Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, William Powell, Humphrey Bogart, and so forth. However, none of this would’ve happened were it not for It Happened One Night.

Though not technically the first of its kind, It Happened One Night proved to be immensely successful among audiences, and became the first film to win the Big 5 Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Adapted/Original Screenplay); a feat only accomplished by two other films in history. Though the screwball popularity wouldn’t survive World War II, it would be extremely influential for film.


9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Disney set their future in motion in 1937 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the first major animation project undertaken ever. With 3 years of production and a massive box office success, Snow White led to the creation of many other films that fans are familiar with, such as: Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. Since then, many childhoods have been created by those who grew up in such eras as the Disney Renaissance or the Kingdom Hearts video games.

Though competition has sprung up today in the form DreamWorks Studios and Studio Ghibli among others, Disney’s Pixar remains at the top of its game in the world of CGI animated pictures. The modern day success of Pixar films can all be attributed to the hand drawn animation days of Disney Animation Studios, and Snow White.


8. It’s a Wonderful Life


Christmas has always been such a joyous time of the year for the millions of families and couples that celebrate it. Though it’s mostly become a consumerist holiday for the non-religious people who rejoice the 25th, the true meaning of giving and caring for one another has never left anyone’s mind thanks to the release and cultural influence of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

As a part of Capra’s attempts at showing the successfulness of the ordinary man, James Stewart represents the majority of us who are going through tough times and want to give up on life, having seemingly forgotten all the good memories we’ve had. Whatever way you look at it the film is a staple of American heritage.


7. Rebel Without a Cause

rebel without a cause

Teen rebellion/angst has been a constant worry for the masses of adults working to maintain the “stability” of the nuclear society they’ve come to embrace. Needless to say, plenty of film directors have attempted to deconstruct the sources for teenage rebellion and present it in a more sympathetic light to the American public.

Before John Hughes could make a career out of it, Rebel Without a Cause tackled the issue first with teen idol James Dean as the star. Rebel Without a Cause proved culturally significant amongst the youth of the nation and, though it would be years before the anti-war and anti-establishment movements took hold, played a good part in influencing those for generations to come.


6. Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

American culture wouldn’t be American culture without foreign influence brought into the melting pot, and while there are plenty of Irish, German, British, Scandinavian, Indian and Scottish traditions found in film, no other group stands out as prominently as the Japanese classic.

The American re-release of Toho’s monster film instantly imprinted itself amongst American audiences, planting the seed of love for big monsters that many modern filmmakers have come to embrace, whether they be dinosaurs or aliens or good old-fashioned kaiju. With the American 2014 reboot garnering a lot of hype, Godzilla remains a cultural icon to this day.