Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2021

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus – Film and the Art of the Con

    R1A 004 | CCN: 34018

    James Stephan Boman

    Location: Dwinelle 247

    Date and Time: TU, TH 2:00pm - 3:29pm

    4 Units

    Filmmakers have always depended on sleights of hand. Perhaps for this reason, film narratives have often centered on characters who are themselves skilled deceivers. This course will explore cinema's long-standing affinity for trickster figures of all stripes, including magicians, imposters, thieves, forgers, hustlers, and hoaxers. Central among these criminal types, though, will be the “con artist” or “confidence man” – that is, men and women who employ elaborate schemes to gain and exploit the confidence of their victim, thereby separating the “mark” from his or her money. The films we will consider exemplify diverse genres and span several decades of cinematic history. They also often display conflicting attitudes toward their central, criminal characters, sometimes depicting them as treacherous (if charismatic) villains, and other times portraying them as sympathetic folk heroes. And yet, these films are consistent in drawing the audience's attention to the sophistication, the artistry, of the games of confidence they present. Over the course of the semester, we will pay close attention to how these other deceptive arts are presented in film, and explore some ways to interpret the cultural and political meanings of these trickster figures and their exploits.