American Cinema / American Culture

Also need to reference the text book.(I will tell you the chapter when you choose the prompt,then you can reference it)

Essay Two

Choose one prompt and write a 4-5 page paper, double spaced. Spelling, organization and structure counts, but depth of analysis is more important. Use specific examples from the film(s) you choose to analyze as well as quotes from the related critical articles.

Please use MLA formatting and style. Include a works cited page and be sure to cite all sources in your writing. If you have questions about how to do this, please see me before or after class.

It is highly suggested that you re-view the film before you write your paper. Describe what you see and hear on screen that is evidence for your assertions. Don’t simply state your opinion without showing moments/examples from the film that confirm your statements. Secondary sources (critical articles) are posted on Canvas. Use these articles to deepen your analysis. Use quotes from the articles to support your ideas.

1) Discuss how the production code of 1934 influenced the content of screwball comedies, specifically analyzing Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” through the code. Use specific scenes as examples of how the code made Capra create sexual tension between the characters in non-sexual ways. Use the readings on Canvas, and/or other readings you find online, to support your paper. Be sure to list some of the specific rules of the code and then show how these scenes got around these rules.

2) Compare Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” to Tony Scott’s “Top Gun,” which was released the same year. What are the different messages each film sets out tell audiences about war and the military? Why do you think each filmmaker took such a vastly different approach? Research both films and filmmakers to come up with a solid thesis and use specific evidence (description of scenes from the movies) to back up your thesis. Be sure to include a discussion of our views of war post-Vietnam and how propaganda is used to recruit for the military.

3) Discuss the Femme Fatale in film noir using “Double Indemnity” as a case study. Find and use at least 2 other secondary sources about the femme fatale and discuss the history of this figure as I covered in lecture.

4) Discuss how John Ford’s “Stagecoach” shows us the idea of ‘manifest destiny’ in action. Comment on character types and how the western genre has created a certain rugged, gun-toting individualism that sticks with us to this day. Be sure to also discuss the difference between the actual old west (1860-1890) versus that shown in films. Find 2 secondary sources minimum.

5) Contrast Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters” with a science fiction film wherein aliens are our enemies. Reference your textbook and other outside sources to discuss why so many science fiction films position visitors from outer space as aggressive rather than friendly. What are some of the characteristics of friendly aliens versus aggressive ones? Do these characteristics remind you of anything earthbound (races, children, pets, insects, etc…)?

6) Discuss how Mike Nichol’s “The Graduate” reflects the political and social landscape of the late 1960s. What themes are prevalent in the film? Use specific examples and find 2 outside sources – one about the social landscape of the 1960s and one about the film itself.

7) Discuss the McCarthy hearings and how Woody Allen’s The Front illustrates what Hollywood talent (including screenwriters, actors, directors etc) went through if they were on the blacklist. Include historical background about the cold war, about America’s view of the spread of communism, and how the blacklist and HUAC were formed.

8) You may write on a topic of your own invention as long as it uses one of the films we viewed in class as your primary source and at least 2 secondary articles.



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