Classic Hollywood Cinema

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Module code


  • Level 1
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • Thursday Evening Workshop Available

This module examines the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood Cinema (1920-1960), looking at the role of the studio system and the impact of relevant social, political and historical contexts on a wide range of Hollywood genres. From screwball comedy and the western to crime, war films and science-fiction, this module will explore a rich and lively period of film-making and the development of an apparently seamless, unambiguous cinematic narrative (the Hollywood style). You will study some of the very best films ever to emerge from Hollywood on this module. Examples of films to be studied include:

  • A Place in the Sun(Stevens, 1951)
  • All About Eve(Mankiewicz, 1950)
  • Cat People(Tourneur, 1942)
  • High Noon (Zinnemann, 1952)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers(Siegel, 1957)
  • It Happened One Night(Capra, 1934)
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948)
  • Mrs Miniver (Wyler, 1942)
  • On the Waterfront(Kazan, 1954)
  • Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1923)
  • Singin' in the Rain(Donen and Kelly, 1952)
  • Sullivan's Travels(Sturges, 1941)
  • Sunrise(Murnau, 1927)
  • Sunset Blvd (Wilder, 1950)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (Ford, 1940)


Dr Jennifer Barnes

Teaching staff

Dr Jennifer Barnes and Dr Ana Salzberg


The module will be delivered through a weekly one hour lecture plus a two hour seminar over eleven weeks.  Regular film screenings will also be scheduled.


  • Essay, 2,500 words (60%)
  • Close analysis exercise (40%)

The resit for this module will take the form of coursework.


Sample of Secondary Reading

  • David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristen Thompson., The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. (Routledge)
  • David A Cook., A History of Narrative Film. (W.W. Norton)
  • Jon Lewis., American Film: A History. (W.W. Norton)
  • Thomas Schatz., Hollywood Genres. (Temple University Press)
  • Steve Neale., Genre and Hollywood. (Routledge, and available electronically via the library)

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