TCF 112 Motion Picture History and Criticism

Spring 2001 (3 credit hours)

Instructor: Jeremy Butler
Office: 430C Phifer, 348-6350
Office hours: MW 3-4:00, & by appt.

GTA: Demetria Shabazz
TCF Website:
Online grades

Course Objectives:

TCF 112 aims to introduce the student to the history of film and to explore some of the major conceptual models (e.g., formalism, genre theory, auteurism, and so on) that have been applied to that history.


In a sense, there are three "texts" for this course:

  1. The course readings:
    Flashback coverLouis Giannetti, Scott Eyman, Flashback: A Brief History of Film, 4th edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001). If you can't find it locally, then buy it online in the textbook section of .
  2. The course lectures
  3. The course films

Giannetti & Eyman will supply the student with the basic facts of film history. The lectures augment those facts with specific interpretations of them. The films themselves illustrate both the readings and the lectures.

  1. There will be three objective (multiple choice, true/false) readings tests over the course of the semester. These closed-book tests will consist of questions drawn from the readings and the films, but not the lectures. They will be worth 15 points each.

  2. Additionally, mid-term (25 points) and final (30 points) exams will be given. These exams will consist of open-note, open-book essay questions drawn from the lectures and referring to the films. Photocopied notes may not be used during these exams; any other notes or books are permissible.

    Dates of the tests/exams are indicated below. Make-up test/exams will be given at the discretion of the instructor. No tests/exams will be given before their scheduled dates.
Grading scale:
    A+  97-100    C+  77-79
    A   93-96     C   73-76
    A-  90-92     C-  70-72
    B+  87-89     D+  67-69
    B   83-86     D   63-66
    B-  80-82     D-  60-62
                  F   59 and below		
Posting of Grades:

If you give us written permission to do so, your grades will be posted by the last four digits of your student ID number in the hallway outside room 216. They may also be found on the TCF Website:

Absence Policy:

The tests/exams' questions assume the student has attended all lectures and film screenings.

Academic Misconduct Policy:

All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Disabilities Accommodation Policy:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Disabilities Services (348-4285). After initial arrangements are made with Disabilities Services, contact Jeremy Butler.

Film Screenings & Film Credits:

There will be no other opportunity to see the films other than the in-class screenings. Most are not available for rental on videocassette/DVD. These films serve as our texts. Ringing cel phones, talking or other disturbances will not be tolerated during screenings.

The best source for film credits is the Internet Movie Database: . Click on the film titles below to access their credits on the IMDb.

Course Schedule

Subject to revisions announced in class.
Notes icon = lecture notes
Illustrations icon = illustrations

Date Lecture/Film Readings
1/10 Introduction to the Course Illustrations icon Notes icon
Lumière & Edison Shorts (1890's)
Impossible Voyage (Méliès, 1904)

No Class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Why not read King's "I Have a Dream" or "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" today?

1/17 The Evolution of Narrative Film Notes icon
  The Docks of New York (von Sternberg, 1928) Chs. 1, 2
1/22 German Silent Film: Expressionism & Kammerspielfilm Expressionism illustrationsNotes icon
1/24 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, 1920) Ch. 4
1/29 Silent Film Comedy: Buster Keaton Keaton illustrationsNotes icon
1/31 Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Keaton, 1928) Ch. 3
2/5 Russian Formalism: Sergei EisensteinIllustrations iconNotes icon
2/7 The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925) Review ch. 4 (pp. 84-92)
*Readings Test 1: Chs. 1, 2, 3, 4*
2/12 Classical Hollywood Cinema Illustrations icon Notes icon
2/14 Tarzan and His Mate (Gibbons, 1934) Ch. 5, 6
2/19 Bazinian Realism: Jean Renoir Bazin illustrations Notes icon
2/21 The Crime of M. Lange (Renoir, 1936) Ch. 7
2/26 **MID-TERM EXAM**
2/28 Documentary FormNotes icon
Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922)
Congorilla (Johnson, 1932)
Don't Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967)
Taxicab Confessions (Gantz & Gantz, 1995)
3/5 Auteur Theory: Alfred Hitchcock Hitchcok cameos Hitchcok filmography Notes icon
3/7 Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946) Ch. 8
3/12 Italian Neorealism: Vittorio DeSica Notes icon
3/14 The Bicycle Thief (DeSica, 1948) Ch. 9
3/19 Feminism and Film Notes icon

The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (Maggenti, 1995)

*Readings Test 2: Chs. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9*
4/2 French New Wave: Jean-Luc Godard Godard illustrations Notes icon
4/4 Vivre Sa Vie (Godard, 1962) Chs. 11, 13
4/9 Genre Study I: Screwball Comedy Notes icon
4/11 My Man Godfrey (La Cava, 1936) Review ch. 6 (pp. 149-52)
4/16 New German Cinema: Werner Herzog Notes icon
4/18 Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972) Ch. 15
4/23 Genre Study II: Film Noir Film Noir illustrations Notes icon
4/25 Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
4/30 The Breakdown of Hollywood Classicism Illustrations iconDVD illustrations Notes icon
Course Summary
5/2 Friday (Gray, 1995) Chs. 10, 12, 14 (optional: 16-18)
5/9, Wed., 2:00 **Readings Test 3: Chs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15**

Last revised: May 8, 2001 9:49 AM