Lifelong Learning Institute

Spring 2002


An in-depth examination of the Hollywood studios from 1930 until 1960, their individual styles, and the films they produced. We will look at what was behind the gritty urban realism of Warner Bros.' gangster films, Universal Studios and the birth of the horror film, MGM's fantastic and elaborate musicals. Our study will also encompass the major personalities who were responsible for the films: the moguls (like Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, David O. Selznick), the directors (including Frank Capra, John Ford, Billy Wilder), the stars (Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, etc.), as well as their collaborators who worked in various aspects of production (choreographer Busby Berkeley, composer Bernard Herrmann, writer Raymond Chandler). Films from the era will be used to illustrate points about studio style, the reliance on genre films, and production methods.

Access course materials by linking to the appropriate handouts:

Course Syllabus

Films on Reserve in the SSU Library

Books on Reserve in the SSU Library

Classic Films in the SSU Library: 1930 - 1970: by studio

Hollywood Studios Personnel

Ethan Mordden: The Hollywood Studios: a summary

Richard Dyer's Stars as Signs: "Stars and Characters": a summary

Approaches to Genre

Jim Kitses: from Horizons West

Hollywood Directors

Douglas Sirk


bgs: 04-02