SEMESTER EXAM – AMERICAN CINEMA, 260-N, SPRING 2016
CHOOSE ONLY FIVE (5) OF THE FOLLOWING EIGHT QUESTIONS. You may use films we’ve seen in class and outside viewing.
1. Why was the Classical Hollywood Studio System so important in establishing the American motion picture as the most pervasive cultural influence in America from 1900 until at least the early 1950s? How did this system help Hollywood to dominate business in theaters around the world? What factors led to its decline by the late 1950s?
2. The Pre-Code Era was shocking even by some of today’s standards. Why did the Movie Moguls and the filmmakers allow this to happen and what led to the enforcement of the Production Code? Do you feel that the strong censorship that followed for 30 years was justified?
3. The Best Years of Our Lives was the quintessential film for returning WWII veterans and its three protagonists represented a significant percentage of the real-life veterans at that time. What forces in the lives of these characters (Al, Fred, Homer) illustrated so well the problems veterans faced from 1945-1950?
4. Film Noir is a distinctive genre/style of American Cinema. Name several films that you believe are most representative of the various traits of Noir. You will receive a list of these Noir characteristics that we discussed in class (and beyond).
5. The George Stevens, Jr. production of Separate But Equal tells the compelling story of the transition from the segregation of African Americans through the eyes of its children to the Brown v. Board of Education case that struck down segregation in America by the unanimous vote of 9-0.
How did you feel about the struggle facing Thurgood Marshall (Sidney Poitier) and Earl Warren (Richard Kiley) in achieving what noted historian and author David Halberstam considered the most important U.S. Supreme Court case of the 20th Century?
6. What makes a classic film? We’ve seen Baby Face, It Happened One Night, The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Best Years of Our Lives, Out of the Past, and others while you’re working on this exam. Describe and illustrate with scenes from the films you choose (at least two).
7. The Hollywood Ten were producers, writers, and directors who challenged the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the late 1940s and lost. They ended up in jail because they refused to cooperate and answer questions or “name names” of others they associated with who were thought to be communists. What is your impression of these men and this era that led to the notorious Blacklist. We’ll be studying all of this material in class soon.
8. Chapter Six of the Corrigan text, Researching the Movies, is essential reading prior to and during the planning and writing of your final research paper this semester. How can this chapter guide you in writing an effective paper? Be sure to read the sample essays at the end of the chapter.