PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University history professor LeRoy Ashby has been invited by university honor students to give a special lecture next week.
Ashby’s lecture, “From Easy Rider to Apocalypse Now: Hollywood’s Brief Moment of Doubt 1969-1979,” is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, in Room 13 of Wilson Hall on the WSU campus. His lecture will focus on a brief period in which Hollywood stopped producing happily-ever-after movies in lieu of more doubtful, cynical and pessimistic story lines.
“Hollywood has typically celebrated what America is idealistically about: hope, happy endings and the idea that tomorrow is another day,” Ashby said.
Between 1969 and 1979, Hollywood produced dozens of critically-acclaimed blockbuster films, such as “The Godfather,” “American Graffiti” and “The Last Picture Show” that were full of doubt. They raised fundamental questions about life and reflected very pessimistically on what America was really all about. By the 1980s, this trend began to move back towards optimistic films, the WSU faculty member said.
Ashby will show clips of more than 16 films to illustrate the cycle of Hollywood, shifting from an attitude of hope, optimism and a celebration of American ideals to cynicism and doubt, and then back again.
Ashby also has been invited to speak later this month at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., as a visiting scholar. He will meet with various classes and lecture on the Cold War.

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