ENGL329E - Special Topics in Film Studies; Hollywood in the Golden Age, 1930-1950

This course examines the history of American movies after the coming of sound, from the consolidation of the Hollywood “dream factory” in the 1930s to the postwar decline and transformation of the American film industry in the 1950s.  Our aim will be to explore the economics, politics, and aesthetics of the movies produced through the Hollywood Studio System.  Topics to be discussed include the business model of the studio system; the approaches to film narration and style developed in Hollywood; the development of the Production Code; the rise of the star system; genres and studio “brands”; representative directors and producers who flourished within the studio system and those who worked outside it.  Students will leave the course with a sense with an understanding of the business and politics of Hollywood during this era, and a sense of the aesthetic possibilities and limits of mainstream films made for mass audiences.  Films include The Public Enemy (1931); Top Hat (1935); Stagecoach (1939); The Wizard of Oz (1939); Rebecca (1940); Casablanca (1942); Mildred Pierce (1945); It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); Singin’ in the Rain (1952); Psycho (1960). Course requirements: Midterm and final exam; group presentation; three short papers.