Fall Session I:
October 6 - November 11, 2009
OUTSIDE THE LABYRINTH:
THE AMERICAN WEST IN THE NOIR FILM
October 6 - November 10
Films screened and discussed:
The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1941)
Detour (Edgar G. Ullmer, 1945)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
Red Rock West (John Dahl, 1995)
Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
It is often taken for granted that the desperation and corruption central to the film noir originate in the city. But in several classic noirs we experience these oppressive elements not in the urban labyrinth, but in the open spaces of the American west. In this course we will look at this genre in non-urban locations and what that says about the importance of space to the aesthetic and metaphor of the noir film. In The Big Heat, the city is both a literal environment and also a source of hopelessness. However, in the classic noirs Detour and Kiss Me Deadly, despair lingers outside the city as in Kiss Me Deadly happens mostly in Los Angeles, but the story begins on a desert highway into the city, and comes to its apocalyptic end at an isolated beach house –- at the edge of the world. The ill-fated road trip to LA in Detour never even reaches the city and in Touch of Evil, not only is corruption dislocated from the big city, it floats in a morally ambiguous space between two remote US/Mexico border towns. We will also screen and discuss Night of the Hunter and the neo-noir Red Rock West, both of which capture the noir mood without entering the city.
Anthony Stagliano is a filmmaker whose feature film, Fade, had its Chicago premiere at the Facets Cinémathèque. Stagliano has worked on a variety of productions including features, shorts and a documentary artist profile for a museum in California. He is a graduate student at DePaul, Stagliano's work there currently focuses on 20th century American literature and film, especially noir and gender in Hitchcock's Hollywood films.
THE SCREWBALL COMEDY AND
THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE
October 7 - November 11
Films screened and discussed:
My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Midnight (Mitchell Leisen, 1939)
His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
My Favorite Wife (Garson Kanin, 1940)
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
With the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1934, movie studios were restricted in their depicting of certain "unacceptable" activities on screen. Prior to the code, the studios produced a string of provocative films that, for the time, were quite sexually explicit. Once the self-censorship began, the major studios had to come up with clever ways to entertain audiences without going outside the boundaries of the code. Out of these new constraints came the screwball comedy. The use of snappy dialogue filled with double entendres substituted for more straightforward "sex talk," with the female lead becoming the dominant sex talker if you will. Professor and film historian, Maria DiBattista calls these women "fast-talking dames", and their dialogue is used not only to get laughs, which it most certainly does, but also to transform the male into a new man of her own creation. This reverse Pygmalion scenario, as noted by DiBattista and others, is at the heart of the screwball comedy and places women in the primary role. This genre produced many of the our most noted and familiar female screen icons, including Irene Dunne, Katherine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, and Barbara Stanwyck. This class will examine the screwball comedy, in the context of the female protagonist and her very important place in the canon of American cinema.
Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor, who has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill's The Learning Group Division. A long-time student of film, Mr. Reginald hosts a "Meet Me at the Movies" program which convenes once a month at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music (Columbia College, Chicago).
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