Final Review


1.  Problems and Perspectives in Understanding History

            --what is the problem of access to historical events and processes?

            --why is the representation of history itself problematic?

            --what major perspectives typically characterize our understanding of the past and what are the differences between them?  (include chronological, personal, causal, and social perspectives)


2.  Broken Blossoms and early American cinema

            --what are the defining characteristics of melodrama?

            --why is it cinematic?

            --what did D.W. Griffith do to explit the cinematic appeal of melodrama?


3.  Sunrise and Fox Film Corporation as a case in vertical integration

            --How is Fox’s effort to consolidate production and gain control of the film industry in the 1920s similar to/different from what Edison did with the Motion Picture Patents Co.?

            --why was Sunrise a key component of Fox’s plans?

            --why is Sunrise sometimes called a “definitive” silent film?

            --what does Sunrise add to our sense of the overall functions and arguments of melodrama in narrative film?


4.  Is what Chaplin (and Fairbanks, Pickford, and Griffith) did with United Artists comparable to the efforts we see by Fox and Edison to control their fates as entrepreneurs?

            --what are the characteristics of Chaplin’s comedy?  Why has it been so appealing to a universal audience?

            --in what sense is City Lights a melodrama in the same way(s) Broken Blossoms and Sunrise might be?  How is it different?

            --why/how does melodrama reinforce moral values in these films?

            --what is the difference between sentiment and melodrama in silent film?


5.  Warner Bros. and Hollywood in the 1930s

            --What does Fugitive tell us about Warner Bros. style in the early 30s? 

--what were the characteristics of its studio style?  Why?

            --How do Fugitive and Roaring Twenties incorporate and develop the melodramatic mode into other generic constructions?


6.  1945-1946:  what characterizes the industry after the war?  Why was there a turn to realism in studio style?  How does The Best Years of Our Lives exemplify semi-documentary filmmaking?  Why is 1946 a key year in the Hollywood film history?

7.  Why is Hitchcock considered the “master of suspense” both in England (1922-1940) then the US (1940-mid 70s)?  What types of suspense films did H. make?  What is the relationship between suspense and melodrama?  How is this connection evident in:                                                                 Notorious (1946):  how do suspense film conventions work through strategies of melodrama:  what are the moral functions of suspense in Hitchcock’s films in general, and in its view of victimization here?

8.  Why was there a shift away from 40s social problem films in the 1950s?  What were important changes in industry structure?  What was the Paramount Decision?  What were the changes in viewership for films and why?  What were the changes in regulatory pressures on the film industry?

9.  Why is  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as an example of “safer” subject matter?  How is this an essentially “50s” film?  Where and how can the elements of melodrama in the film create the potential for social criticism?  How does Valance shift the western genre into dealing with the concerns evident in 50s films generally?  How is this film “horse opera” in the sense of dealing with major “50s” concerns such as fear of “outsider” influence, pressure to conform, and repression?

10.  How do the changes in Hollywood and American culture in the fifties remain evident in the case of an early 60s film such as Manchurian Candidate?  How does this film reflect the concerns and tensions of American society as it moved into the 60s?

11.  In what sense was Bonnie and Clyde an “independent” production?  How does the film’s style indicate its break from Hollywood norms and traditions?  Why is the representation of violence so important in this film?

12.  How is Chinatown at once both “new” and traditional? How does this film treat “conspiracy” as opposed to The Manchurian Candidate or other films of the early 70s?  What has happened to the conventions of the detective film in Chinatown, and why?

13.  Why has the economy of film production since the 90s encouraged independent production?  How do films such as El Mariachi and Lone Star pose alternatives to conventional feature film form and style?  How do these two films contribute to the evolution of the Hollywood western?