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Hymns for the FallenCombat Movie Music and Sound after Vietnam$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520282322

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520282322.001.0001

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Soldiers’ Talk

Soldiers’ Talk

(p.65) 3. Soldiers’ Talk
Hymns for the Fallen

Todd Decker

University of California Press

Serious Hollywood war films moderate the dialogue norms of the action/adventure genre, opting for a reserved sort of male speech that is moderate in tone and delivery. Aggressive talk is typically used as an element of contrast to suggest characters are inexperienced, undisciplined, untrustworthy, or overaggressive. The masculinity of American soldiers in these films is thereby shaped for a mixed gender and generational audience, as evidenced by comparison of films with their sources and draft scripts. The foul-mouthed and confrontational drill instructor (especially in Full Metal Jacket) stands outside this norm. War film dialogue regularly draws from authentic military speech. Poems (“The Rifleman’s Creed) and sayings (the Vietnam expressions “don’t mean nothin’” and “sorry ’bout that”) resound across the genre, connecting these films to each other and to actual military culture. Some such sayings also function as refrains within given films (the African American soldiers who dap each other in Hamburger Hill).

Keywords:   dialogue, action/adventure genre, masculinity, drill instructor, Full Metal Jacket, military culture, dap, African American soldiers, Vietnam expressions

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