Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2016

  • Special Topics in Film: American Films of the 1950s

    108 - 003 | CCN: 31663

    Russell Merritt

    4 Units

    The 1950s is arguably the most underestimated decade of the twentieth century. The films of its major directors – Elia Kazan, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, John Cassavetes, and, inevitably, Alfred Hitchcock point to the rich variety of responses to the signature themes of the decade. The point of the course is to get beyond the familiar portrait of the ‘50s – one dominated by Cold War paranoia, conformity, TV, and suburban vanilla – and examine films that probed beneath the surface of this extraordinarily illusive decade. We will see how even as a mass entertainment, movies often functioned as critical and surprisingly unpredictable comments on a culture of affluence, sexual confusion, and drift.
    Among the movies we will study: Night of the Hunter, Shadows, The Caine Mutiny, The Wrong Man, and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Readings will come from a course reader and will also include Catcher in the Rye and Lolita.