Week 1: 1935-1948: The Economic Imperative
We'll consider the whodunit-thriller genre as a microcosm of the B movie industry, viewing passages from three outstanding whodunit-thriller B movies.
Week 2: B-Movie Framework: Horizontal Structure and the Vaudeville Factor
We will analyze the B Movie’s distinctive cinema form and look at radio and magazine fiction’s influence on audience expectations. We'll learn about five criteria for discriminating between creative and routine B movie whodunit-thrillers.
Week 3: 1934-1942: The Charming Detective
We will explore the flourishing of the light-hearted whodunit-thriller, and the influence of the Depression. We'll view longer passages from two characteristically jaunty B movie whodunit-thrillers.
Week 4: 1942-1945: The Patriotic Detective
We'll examine wartime themes from spy-hunting to images of grief, and the growth of a darker B movie tone. We will view longer passages from two influential wartime B movie whodunit-thrillers.
Week 5: 1945-1948: The Cynical Detective
We'll consider the reaction against wartime patriotic uplift, with the emergence of social criticism and the rise of the pure B movie thriller. We will view longer passages from two postwar B movie thrillers.
Week 6: The End
We will view a complete whodunit-thriller B movie then debate the movie’s horizontal narrative and Vaudeville factor. Finally, we will use the five criteria from Week 2 to judge the picture as a good or bad B movie, and ask, “Why bother with B movies?”
For certificate students only:
Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”
Textbooks and learning materials
Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.