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Classical Hollywood: Clichés and Innovation

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code FM085-202) • (0 classes) Course location to be confirmed •
Sorry, this course is cancelled

Course Summary

Clichés abound in our view of Hollywood, just as they do in the films that are produced there. This course will take a closer look at the way Hollywood films have recycled, reinvented and even revolutionised their own clichés – and how they reflected the dreams (and nightmares) of American society.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

1. Hollywood in the Beginning.

2. The Studio System: Art as Industry.

3. Typecasting and the Star System.

4. Genres I: Establishing the Rules.

5. Genres II: Breaking the Rules.

6. Fresh Blood, New Ideas: Emigres in Hollywood.

7. William Wyler: The Artist and the System.

8. The Production Code: Titillation and Taboo.

9. Waking Up from the American Dream

10. Cold Wars and Hot Issues.

Teaching method(s)

The course will take place over a period of ten weeks.

Each session will follow the same pattern:

  • Introductory lecture which sets the film and extract within its context historically, socially and cinematically;

  • screening of excerpts from a film;

  • group discussion.

Students will be provided with background reading, reviews, criticism, on a weekly basis. Reflection on the course will continue throughout with consideration of the learning outcomes and the general development of the course.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. discuss the Hollywood studio system and its inner workings;

  2. analyse narrative techniques and camera work;

  3. identify various directorial styles that are often considered a part of ‘Classical Hollywood’;  

  4. evaluate the degree to which cinema can be influenced by politics and ideology.


Core Readings

  • Bordwell, D., Staiger, J., Thompson, K. (2005)  The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Fawell, J. (2008) The Hidden Art of Hollywood: In Defense of the Studio Era Film. Westport and London: Praeger.

  • Langford, B. (2005)  Film Genre: Hollywood and Beyond. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Neale, S. (ed.) (2012) The Classical Hollywood Reader. London: Routledge.

  • Williams, M. (2013) Film Stardom, Myth and Classicism: The Rise of Hollywood's Gods. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.