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CMS 311 A: History of Film: 1930-1959

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
CMU 120
Sudhir Mahadevan

Syllabus Description:

Instructor: Sudhir Mahadevan

CMU 120 12:30 to 2:20 pm

Office Hours: By Appointment

Office: Padelford Hall, C - 526

Email: sudhirm @ uw 

This course surveys distinctive films and moments in the history of cinema over a period of three decades. The period spans transformations in technology (the advent of sound), genres (the musical, the social problem film, film noir), institutions (the consolidation of the studio system, the birth of new national cinemas), and trends (French poetic realism, Italian Neo-realism).

Where possible, we will trace the influence of movies across national borders. We will situate developments within a broader atlas of historical events, and geographical areas: the buildup to World War II and its aftermath, the impact of anti-colonial movements in the formation of new nation-states in non-Western parts of the world, and the consolidation of new national film industries in these parts. Our aim will be to acquire some comparative sense of often complex and simultaneous developments in films, styles, and film industries in multiple locations during this period.

Course structure: 

Technology: Sound

1/7 - The Coming of Sound in Hollywood - Applause (1929)

1/9 -  The Coming of Sound in France - Le Million (1931)

National Cinema: Hollywood and the Studio System

1/14- Pre-Code Hollywood - Baby Face (1933)

1/16 - The Depression Era Musical - Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

1/21- The Studio System and the Social Problem Film - Sullivan's Travels (1941)

The Documentary In Britain and Spain

1/23 - Listen to Britain (1942), Coal Face (U.K) (1935)

1/28 - Land Without Bread (Spain) (1932)

Transnational Comparisons: the Modern Girl Around the World

1/30 - The Goddess (China) (1934)

2/4 - Osaka Elegy (Japan) (1936)

Cinematic Trends and Movements

2/6 - French Poetic Realism: Pepe Le Moko (France) (1937)

2/11 - Italian Neo-Realism - Rome Open City (Italy) (1945)

2/13 - Hollywood Noir - Gilda (US) (1946)

International Postwar Developments

2/18 - France after the War - Rififi  (France) (1955)

Indian Commercial Cinema: Stunt Films, Socials, and Noirs

2/20  - Miss Frontier Mail (1936)

2/25 - Kismet (Fate) - (1943)

2/27 - Baazi (Wager) - (1951)

U.S, Japan and North Africa

3/3 - The End of the Studio System and Beat Cinema: Shadows/Pull My Daisy (US) - (1958)

3/5:  Postwar Japanese Cinema: Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

3/10- Cinema in North Africa: Cairo Station (1958)

3/12- Recap


Catalog Description: 
Film history from the introduction of sound through the late 1950s. Focuses mostly on the golden age of the Hollywood studios and on alternative developments after World War II in Italy (Neo-Realism), France (the New Wave), and Japan.
Department Requirements Met: 
Cinema & Media Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 7, 2019 - 9:50pm