Home » Film & Media Studies 101B Spring 2021

Film & Media Studies 101B Spring 2021

Final Research Project
Film & Media Studies 101B
Spring 2021
Please choose one of the topics below for your research (or you can develop your own topic). The
project will be comprised of two parts, 1) a preliminary annotated bibliography of your primary
sources and 2) the final paper.
Primary Sources (upload to Canvas by May 13)
You will submit an annotated bibliography of the sources you plan to cite. This is not necessarily
your final bibliography. You may decide to include additional citations in your final project. Each
citation should include a summary (one or two sentences) of what is contained in the source. Links
to sources can be found in the prompts below.
• The bibliography should use MLA style.
• It should include a minimum of 7 entries.
• It should only include primary sources–material that was created between 1930 and
• You will submit a pdf or screen shot of each source.
Final Paper (Upload to Canvas by June 10)
The goal of the final paper is to demonstrate your ability to analyze historical documents in
relationship to the period of film history that we are discussing in this course. The paper should be
between 1000 to 1500 words.
Research Topics: Choose ONE of the following, or propose your own research topic.
If you want to propose your own research topic, please send your proposed topic to your TA by
May 1 and include your research questions and sources for primary materials.
Papers should develop an argument and support that argument through sustained analysis of the
primary documents. The questions posed below should help guide you towards your analysis. You
do not need to answer all the questions. They are included to help point you towards your
Prompt 1. Imitation of Life (1934 and 1959).
Imitation of Life is a 1933 novel by Fannie Hurst about two single mothers, one Black and one
white, and the Black daughter who decides to pass as white. The novel was adapted into two
films, one released in 1934 during the Depression and the other in 1959 during the Civil Rights
The questions posed below should help guide you towards your analysis. You do not need to
answer all the questions. They are included to help point you towards your argument.
• What did the Black press have to say about these films?
• What aspects of the films did the press emphasize?
• What are the differences between the ways in which the two films and their stars are
• What might explain these differences?
To research the Black press, please visit the Black Studies Center on ProQuest and search
“Historical Newspapers.” (Library VPN required.)
Prompt 2: Spanish and English-language Fan Magazines
If you read Spanish, compare two or more issues of Cine-Mundial and/or another Spanishlanguage magazine digitized by the Margaret Herrick Library to two or more issues of an
English-language fan magazine from the same year.
The questions posed below should help guide you towards your analysis. You do not need to
answer all the questions. They are included to help point you towards your argument:
• Do the two magazines promote the same films and stars?
• Do they pitch films in the same way?
• Do they have the same advertisers?
• How would you explain the differences between the two magazines?
Cine-Mundial and other fan magazines like Photoplay, Motion Picture, Picture Play are available
through the Media History Digital Library. The Margaret Herrick Library (Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences) has additional Spanish-language magazines.
Prompt 3: Citizen Kane in Technical and Trade Papers
Today Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) tops multiple lists as one of the “greatest” films ever
made. The film is celebrated in large part because it challenged so many of the norms of classical
Hollywood style. What did people working in the film industry think about the film in the 1940s?
Analyze articles from technical journals and trade papers to understand what industry workers
thought about Citizen Kane. Choose at least one technical journal and at least one trade paper
and compare their discussions of Citizen Kane.
The questions posed below should help guide you towards your analysis. You do not need to
answer all the questions. They are included to help point you towards your argument.
• What aspect of the film did articles focus on? For example, did they tend to focus on
technical aspects of the film and below-the-line personnel (cinematography, editing,
sound, etc.)? On ticket sales? On performances or celebrities (including the director)?
• Did the journal or trade paper include evaluations of the film? If so, what were their
• Was the film prominently reported in the journal or paper, or did other films take
• Is there anything surprising in the reporting on the film?
Trade papers like Variety, Boxoffice, and The Hollywood Reporter are read primarily by people
who work on the business end of things, including directors, producers, and studio executives. The
Film Daily, Box Office Digest, Boxoffice, Harrison’s Reports, Showmen’s Trade Review, and The
Exhibitor were read by film exhibitors. Available through the Media History Digital Library and
the Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive (UCI VPN required).
Technical journals are even more specialized. They speak to readers who have expertise in a
given technology. For example, American Cinematographer reached an audience of
cinematographers and the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers addressed
cinematographers, exhibitors, sound engineers, etc. Available through the Media History Digital
Library .
Prompt 4: The Production Code
Identify a film genre (see the list below) and read the Production Code Administration (PCA) files
for three or more of the films within the genre.
Each document that you refer to from the file will be one entry on your annotated bibliography.
For example, a memo from Joe Breen to Jack Warner will be one entry. A review of the film will
be a second entry.
The questions posed below should help guide you towards your analysis. You do not need to
answer all the questions. They are included to help point you towards your argument.
• What concerns did the PCA have about the films?
• Why are these issues of concern?
• Do these concerns have something to do with the genre?
• Do they remain consistent over time?
Alternatively, you can look at films that address race or that are set in Mexico or South America.
• What concerns does the Production Code Administration bring up about these films?
• Why are these issues of concern?
• Do these concerns remain consistent over time?
Most of the following PCA files are available from the Margaret Herrick Library. Others are
available on our Canvas page.
42nd Street (1933)
Footlight Parade (1933)
Hollywood Party (1934)
Dames (1934)
Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
Top Hat (1935)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Calamity Jane (1953)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Pillow Talk (1959)
Porgy and Bess (1959)
Women’s Pictures
Anybody’s Woman (1930)
Blonde Venus (1932)
Three on a Match (1932)
Christopher Strong (1933)
Baby Face (1933)
The Story of Temple Drake (1933)
A Woman Rebels (1936)
Angel (1937)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Magnificent Obsession (1954)
All that Heaven Allows (1955)
End of the Affair (1955)
Imitation of Life (1959)
Screwball Comedy
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Design for Living (1933)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
The Awful Truth (1937)
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)
Philadelphia Story (1940)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Prison Films
City Streets (1931)
I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Girls of the Big House (1945)
Crime, Inc. (1945)
Caged (1950)
Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)
Frankenstein (1931)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
The Mummy (1932)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Black Cat (1934)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Wolf Man (1941)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
It Came from Outer Space (1953)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Psycho (1960)
Stagecoach (1939)
This Gun for Hire (1942)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Rancho Notorious (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Shane (1953)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Birth of a Nation (1915)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927)
Hallelujah (1929)
Cabin in the Cotton (1932)
The Emperor Jones (1933)
Show Boat (1936)
One Mile from Heaven (1937)
Underworld (1937)
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
The Negro Soldier (1944)
Song of the South (1946)
Show Boat (1951)
Imitation of Life (1959)
Civil Rights Story (Not released)
Fiesta (1947)
The Three Caballeros (1944)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Crisis (1950)
Here Comes Pancho Villa (Unproduced)
Pancho Villa (Unproduced)

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