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Film History 101

My consort never had occasion to take a film history class in school, and has wearied of not being able to make pretentious references to Godard like the rest of us pedants. So she’s requested a short course, and I’ve spent the weekend putting together a syllabus for us. Posted here for reference, and also so that I’ll stop fussing with it. Comments as we go along! Should be a summer’s worth of fun. With thanks to Gilberto Perez, whose “Art of Film” course, which I took exactly twenty years ago, changed my life forever for the better. The list below uses Perez’s syllabus as its spine.


Joel’s History of Film to 1980 or So

In the Beginning
Lumière et compagnie – Poulet (1995)
La Voyage dans la Lune – Méliès (1902)
The Birth of a Nation – Griffith (1915)

The Clowns
The Kid – Chaplin (1921)
Sherlock Jr. – Keaton (1924)
The Gold Rush – Chaplin (1925)
The General – Keaton (1927)
Duck Soup – McCarey (1933)

Europe Between the Wars: Expressionism, Revolution, Surrealism, Decadence, Anxiety
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Wiene (1920)
The Battleship Potemkin – Eisenstein (1925)
Un Chien Andalou – Buñuel / Dalí (1928)
The Blue Angel – von Sternberg (1930)
M – Lang (1931)

The Last European
The Grand Illusion – Renoir (1937)
The Rules of the Game – Renoir (1939)

Hollywood: The Golden Melting Pot

Film Noir
Fury – Lang (1936)
High Sierra – Walsh (1941)
Double Indemnity – Wilder (1944)
Out of the Past – Tourneur (1947)

Oaters
Stagecoach – Ford (1939)
Winchester ’73 – Mann (1950)
The Searchers – Ford (1956)
The Wild Bunch – Peckinpah (1969)

The Greatest Generation
It Happened One Night – Capra (1934)
Bringing Up Baby – Hawks (1938)
His Girl Friday – Hawks (1940)
The Shop Around the Corner – Lubitsch (1940)
Sullivan’s Travels – Sturges (1941)
Citizen Kane – Welles (1941)
Casablanca – Curtis (1942)
Shadow of a Doubt – Hitchcock (1943)
To Have and Have Not – Hawks (1944)
Letter from an Unknown Woman – Ophüls (1948)
All About Eve – Mankiewicz (1950)
The African Queen – Huston (1951)
Singin’ in the Rain – Kelly/Donen (1952)
Roman Holiday – Wyler (1953)
Vertigo – Hitchcock (1958)
Some Like It Hot – Wilder (1959)

Hollywood Becomes Sentient
Sunset Boulevard – Wilder (1950)

Freud in the Suburbs: The Tranquilized Fifties and Beyond
Rebel Without a Cause – Ray (1955)
All That Heaven Allows – Sirk (1955)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul – Fassbinder (1974)
Far From Heaven – Haynes (2002)

La politique des auteurs: International Cinemas

Italian Neorealism
Rome, Open City – Rossellini (1945)
Bicycle Thieves – De Sica (1948)

India
Pather Panchali – Ray (1955)
Aparajito – Ray (1956)
Apur Sansar – Ray (1959)

Japan
Tokyo Story – Ozu (1953)
Ugetsu – Mizoguchi (1953)
Throne of Blood – Kurosawa (1957)

France
Hiroshima mon amour – Resnais (1959)
The 400 Blows – Truffaut (1959)
Breathless – Godard (1960)
Jules and Jim – Truffaut (1962)
Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis – Godard (1966)

Italy
L’Avventura – Antonioni (1960)
La Dolce Vita – Fellini (1960)
8 ½ – Fellini (1963)
The Conformist – Bertolucci (1970)

Sweden
Persona – Bergman (1966)

Poland
Knife in the Water – Polanski (1962)
The Decalogue – Kieslowski (1989)

The 70’s: America Gets Interesting Again
The Godfather – Coppola (1972)
Pink Flamingos – Waters (1972)
Paper Moon – Bogdanovich (1973)
Chinatown – Polanski (1974)
Nashville – Altman (1975)
Taxi Driver – Scorsese (1976)
All the President’s Men – Pakula (1976)
Apocalypse Now – Coppola (1979)

Women (Sometimes) Get to Direct Movies Too
Meshes of the Afternoon – Deren (1943)
The Bigamist – Lupino (1953)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Heckerling (1982)
Born in Flames – Borden (1983)
Vagabond – Varda (1985)
Chocolat – Denis (1988)
Salaam Bombay! – Nair (1988)
Daughters of the Dust – Dash (1991)
The Piano – Campion (1993)
The Apple – Makhmalbaf (1998)
Boys Don’t Cry – Pierce (1999)
Frida – Taymor (2002)
Lost in Translation – Coppola (2003)
Yes – Potter (2004)
Letter from an Unknown Woman – Xu Jinglei (2004)
You and Me and Everyone We Know – July (2005)