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FILM 21 - Film History II (1930-1960)

This is a course guide for FILM 21.

Course description

A detailed history of film beginning with the golden age of the U.S. studio system and its major genres. Among the topics and films considered will be the rise of sound film; Hollywood in the 30s; the impact of World War II; neo-realism; film noir; the blacklist; the impact of television and the decline of the studio system; Japanese cinema; the emergence of European auteurs; beginnings of the French New Wave.

[ORC/Catalog, 06/02/2023]; Dist:INT or ART; WCult:W

Please note: If you are looking at the history of cinema for a specific country, look at the National Cinemas guide also.

Defining neorealism in cinema


1. A body of socially conscious films, made on small budgets and shot on location using non-professional actors, that emerged in Italy between the mid 1940s and early 1950s; the films dealt with the everyday lives of ordinary working people in the aftermath of war and subscribed to the ideals of a post-Fascist popular social renewal.

2. A political-aesthetic disposition, inspired by the spirit and methods of these films, informing a range of national cinemas worldwide from the 1950s. A term previously used in relation to art and literature, Neorealism was first applied to film with reference to Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione/Obsession (1942), which is widely regarded as the movement’s precursor. Neorealism shares with realism a disposition towards seeing truth in the visible world and a confidence in cinema’s capacity to convey that truth. It also embodies the notion that cinema can and should be socially critical, and that films may properly have a consciousness-raising function. Roberto Rossellini’s Roma città aperta/Rome Open City (1945), regarded as the first Neorealist film, was a worldwide critical and commercial success. It was followed, among others, by Vittorio De Sica’s Sciuscià/Shoeshine (1946) and Ladri di biciclette/Bicycle Thieves (1948), and Giuseppe De Santis’s Riso amaro/Bitter Rice (1949). A rise of conservatism and an eclipse of populist anti-fascism in late 1940s Italian politics contributed to the decline of Neorealism, whose endpoint is commonly dated to 1952, the release year of de Sica’s box-office failure, Umberto D. The directors associated with Neorealism continued to make films, while a new generation of filmmakers—influenced by, but pushing the boundaries of—Neorealism arose in the 1950s, among them Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Neorealism. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 Jun. 2023

In the Library's collections

You can use one of these subject headings to start your research in the library's online catalog:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Other library resource(s)

Selected film title(s)

Since it isn't easy to isolate films in our catalog by date, I'm including a link to Wikipedia's List of films by decade by genre. Otherwise, you can see a list of the feature films in the library's collection.

Finding scholarly articles & journal title(s)

You can find scholarly literature for film history in a variety of journals. However, if you want to do targeted searching, you can use a subject specific data such as Film & Television Literature Index. You can also use the search box at the top of the page.

Internet resource(s)

Citing and Tracking Your Bibliographic References

Use this guide to help you learn how to correctly cite and keep track of the references you find for your research.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.