ENGL 207
Hollywood Directors: Hawks, Lubitsch, and Sturges Spring 2013 Division I; Writing-Intensive;
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Mainstream narrative cinema as we know it today was shaped during Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” the 1930’s and 1940’s, when Hollywood set the stylistic and narrative norms that have dominated cinema ever since. Working in many narrative genres, and forging distinctive styles despite the industrial methods of the studio system, the best Hollywood directors, such as Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, and Preston Sturges, were able to produce an astonishing number of great films within a short span of time, which won the spectator over not by the sensational visual stunts so common today, but by using superb writing and deft cinematography to spin out engaging narratives. Despite their light touch, these films are deceptively thoughtful about social, psychological, and ethical problems. In this tutorial course, we will study a range of films by Hawks, Lubitsch, and Sturges–primarily comedies, but also gangster films, Westerns, and films noirs–taking advantage of each director’s distinctive style and social and moral vision to find common strains of thought among diverse works. Topics to be discussed will include sexuality and gender relations, class mobility, distinctively American forms of ambition and heroism, World War II and the Depression, thievery and con games. Critical essays on individual films, as well as accounts of film genres and of the socio-historical backgrounds of the period, will be assigned, along with films such as Scarface, Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Red River, Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, To Be or Not To Be, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, and Sullivan’s Travels.
After a week in which we will meet as a group to become acquainted with some of these films and with approaches to analyzing them, students will meet with the instructor in pairs for a 60- to 75-minute session each week during the rest of the semester. They will write a paper every other week (five in all), and write a response to their partners’ papers in alternate weeks. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills not only in reading, viewing, and interpretation, but also in constructing critical arguments and responding to them in written and oral critiques.
The Class: Type: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3592
Requirements/Evaluation: five 5- to 6-page papers, five 2-page critiques of partner's papers
Extra Info: not available for the Gaudino option
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course, or a score of 5 on the AP Exam in English Literature or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate
Enrollment Preference: to sophomores and first-years,students who have previously taken an introductory film-studies course, and English majors
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;

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