research essay on hollywood film
1. the complete instructions are in the file ‘essay questions’ and ‘essay question revision’.
2. Choose question 1 as the essay question.
3. PDF file ‘topic3’ is the lecture notes
4. ‘Robert Warshow THE GANGSTER AS TRAGIC HERO’ is the essential reading for question 1
ARTS1062 ESSAY QUESTIONS
1. to include the question you are answering at the beginning of your essay (you don’t need to write out the question but please include the number!)
2. to consult the style guide about formatting and referencing!
Choose one of the following questions
In his book Public Enemies, Public Heroes Jonathan Munby argues that in the 1930s gangster film, “the authoritarian impositions of censorship only serve to increase our perception of the gangster as victim of persecution.” Through an analysis of one or more films from the early 1930s gangster film cycle (Scarface, Public Enemy, and Little Caesar) and drawing on relevant studies of the gangster film and the Production Code, discuss Munby’s claim.
Richard Maltby has argued that the “Code forced Hollywood to be ambiguous, and gave it a set of mechanisms for creating ambiguity, while viewers learned to imagine the acts of misconduct that the Code had made unmentionable.” Discuss Maltby’s claim and support or dispute his argument here through discussion and analysis of one or more films that we have viewed in the course.
In her essay “Mildred Pierce and the Second World War” Linda Williams argues that the film “reflects and represses the contradictions of its historical moment” (p.21). She develops this point over the following pages and writes on p.25:
[like] the wartime and post-war gothics, Mildred Pierce is better able to reflect the problems encountered by women under patriarchal rule precisely because it does not reflect the specific historical conditions that made this criticism possible in the first place.
Discuss Williams’ claim and support or dispute her argument through a close analysis of the essay and other scholarship on the film, and through discussion of specific scenes and themes in the film.
It has often been argued that the “high concept” film is a form that inhibits or precludes originality and diversity. Discuss this claim through close analysis of a high concept Hollywood film of your own choosing, putting a case for why (and how) this film does or does not use the high concept form in ways that reinvigorate or transform Hollywood storytelling and/or cinema’s relation to spectacle. In developing your analysis you will need to define the high concept film and discuss its features.
The star system was central to classical Hollywood cinema. As Richard Dyer has argued in his important studies of the Hollywood film star, the star has both a market function (he/she is a means of selling the film itself, of advertising consumer products, and a means to secure finance for the film) and a signifying function in the films in which he or she appears. Focusing on one Hollywood star from the classical era, discuss how this star’s image was shaped by both his or her film roles and publicity and other materials and analyse how this star and his/her image is drawn on in one film of your choosing.
Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver (1976) is one of the most well-known films of the Hollywood Renaissance. Through a close reading of this film discuss how this film differs from and/or shares similarities with the classical Hollywood film and identify the stylistic features of the Hollywood Renaissance. In answering this question you will need to refer to and analyse scenes from Taxi Driver and other films that you discuss.
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