SEMESTER EXAM – FALL 2015, AMERICAN CINEMA
Select 6 of the following questions. You may use films we’ve seen in class and outside viewing according to the list of required and recommended films I’m going to be including on a separate file with the exam.
1. I assigned the Sklar book MOVIE-MADE AMERICA first so that you can understand certain key points of the cultural history of American film. There are at least three main movements, decisions, and/or external and internal pressures that affected the formation of the motion picture industry leading to the full “flowering” or establishment of the Classical Hollywood Studio System. Extra points if you can determine and explain more than three. I expect you to carry your answers through the 1930s at least.
2. How and why did the Silent Film era help to identify American Cinema as the leading motion picture force in the world?
3. Of all the important figures in the first 30 years of motion pictures, which one person do you feel is most responsible for the development and continuity of this art/business?
4. Why was the Pre-Code Era so distinctive? How do you feel its demise affected the next 30+ years of film before the Movie Rating System was established in the late 1960s?
5. Why have there been so few women filmmakers?
6. Select one of these directors and demonstrate the singular importance of his contribution to American Cinema: Charlie Chaplin, John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, Frank Capra, George Stevens, Orson Welles, John Huston, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Arthur Penn, and Stanley Kramer. You will need to include at least a brief discussion of two of his films.
7. What are the long term effects of HUAC’s pursuit of Hollywood and do you agree with the Committee, the executives in Hollywood who stood with the Committee and initiated the Blacklist [consider the Waldorf Agreement of 1947], or the Hollywood Ten who served time in prison?
8. Of all the required texts for the course, which one do you consider the best and/or most important to your understanding of American Cinema, or at least the period we concentrated on in the course. I also want you to find one thesis that runs through the book. For example, what happened to all five Hollywood directors in FIVE CAME BACK that changed the course of their careers? Did each of these directors achieve the success they wanted or expected? What motivated Capra, Wyler, Huston, Ford, and Stevens individually and collectively?
9. What is your advice to Hollywood corporations (note that I didn’t say “studios”) and their executives regarding what they should do to make film a significant social, cultural, and political force as an art?