TCF 112 Motion Picture History and Criticism

Spring 1996

Credit hours: 3

Instructor: Jeremy Butler Office: 430C Phifer Hall

Teaching Assistant: Julie Noble, 348-6350

Office hours: TBA

E-mail: WWW:

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:

Douglas Gomery, Movie History: A Survey (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991).

2. The course lectures

3. The course films

Gomery 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 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 Summary:

Readings Tests (3 @ 15) 45

Mid-Term Exam 25

Final Exam 30


Grade scale (plus/minus grading system does not affect students enrolled before 1994):

A 93-100 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

C+ 77-79 F 59 and below

Posting of Grades:

Grades will be posted by a unique number which will be assigned to you. We may also experiment with the posting of grades on the TCF Department's World Wide Web site:

This site may be accessed from most computer labs on campus and, via the Internet, from computers around the world.

Absence Policy:

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

Film Screenings:

There will be no other opportunity to see the films other than the in-class screenings. Most are not available on videocassette.

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.

Course Schedule (subject to revisions announced in class):

Date Lecture/Film Readings

1/8 Introduction to the Course/Modes of Film


A TRIP TO THE MOON (Méliès, 1902)

SO THIS IS PARIS (Lubitsch, 1926) Chs. 1, 2

1/15 No Class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

1/17 German Silent Film: Expressionism & Kammerspielfilm

THE LAST LAUGH (Murnau, 1924) Ch. 4

1/22 Silent Film Comedy: Buster Keaton

1/24 SHERLOCK, JR (Keaton, 1924) Ch. 3

*Readings Test 1: Chs. 1, 2, 3, 4*

1/29 Russian Formalism: Dziga Vertov

1/31 MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Vertov, 1929) Ch. 5

2/5 Classical Hollywood Cinema: Frank Borzage

2/7 A MAN'S CASTLE (Borzage, 1933) Ch. 6

2/12 Bazinian Realism: Jean Renoir

2/14 RULES OF THE GAME (Renoir, 1939) Ch. 8

2/19 **MID-TERM EXAM**

2/21 Documentary Form

NANOOK OF THE NORTH (Flaherty, 1922)

NIGHT AND FOG (Resnais, 1955)

2/26 Auteur Theory: Howard Hawks

2/28 ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (Hawks, 1939)

3/4 Italian Neorealism: Roberto Rossellini

3/6 OPEN CITY (Rossellini, 1945) Ch. 9

3/11 Genre Study I: Screwball Comedy

3/13 MY MAN GODFREY (LaCava, 1936)

*Readings Test 2: Chs. 5, 6, 8, 9*

3/18 French New Wave: Jean-Luc Godard

3/20 THE MARRIED WOMAN (Godard, 1962) Ch. 12

3/23-3/31 SPRING BREAK

4/1 Feminism and Film

4/3 Sadie Benning Videotapes

ORLANDO (Potter, 1993; extract)

4/8 New German Cinema: Werner Herzog

4/10 STROSZEK (Herzog, 1977) Ch. 13

4/15 Genre Study II: Film Noir

4/17 BIG HEAT (Lang, 1953)

4/22 The Breakdown of Hollywood Classicism

Course Summary

4/24 TBA (recent release on videotape) Chs. 10, 11, 14

5/3 **Friday, 2-4:30 p.m.**

**Readings Test 3: Chs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14**