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Film Genres: Action films

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition

An extremely successful and influential mode of popular cinema that foregrounds spectacular movement of bodies, vehicles and weapons, and state-of-the-art special effects. These highly dynamic elements (with the actor's physical performance a central attraction) are usually held together by a fast-paced, pared down, goal-orientated, narrative structure.

The action film is strongly associated with the adventure film, with swashbucklers, pirate films, historical epic films, and safari films all popular from the 1910s.

Kuhn, A. and Westwell, G. (2012). "Action film." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 14 Dec. 2015

Finding library resources for action & adventure films

To find what we have in the Library's collection, you can do a subject search for "action and adventure films" in the online catalog. That search will show you what film titles are classified as action films as well as books and other items about them.

As you look at the list under action and adventure films, the subject headings which include "history and criticism" talk about the genre itself. The headings which also include a country name are specifically talking about action films in that country.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding articles & using SUMMON

Articles and other writings about movies can be found in many publications. Our collection does not include a journal or magazine which looks exclusively at action and adventure films. Other film journals within our collection will cover action films. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles. You can also use the SUMMON box below.

About?

Dartmouth Users: Using Summon from off-campus? You'll need VPN for access to full-text.

Selected movie titles

Find more action films.