Skip to main content Skip to navigation

FI249-15 Hollywood Cinema: History, Theory, Industry

SCAPVC - Film & Television Studies
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Alice Pember
Credit value
Module duration
9 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This core module will build on what students have learned about Hollywood in first year modules (such as Film History and Screen Technologies) by expanding their knowledge about Hollywood as an industry, its history (depending on when it is taught this may extend from the classical period into the post-classical and contemporary period), and theoretical concepts that engage with Hollywood cinema. The module will illustrate important aspects about the Hollywood industrial filmmaking system, including style, genre, and stars. By first focusing on Hollywood as an industry, examining the practices and cultures of film production, the module will then consider its ideological influence by promoting specific American values and traditions through political issues, such as race and ethnicity.

The exact content of the module in any given year will depend on the expertise and research interests of the module convenor. The following is an example.

The module will be divided into four parts:
Part I. Style and System
Part II. Politics
Part III. Ideology
Part IV. New Trends

Module web page

Module aims
  • To provide an appreciation of Hollywood cinema
  • The understand the industrial Hollywood system
  • To access some of the social and cultural contexts that helped shaped Hollywood cinema
  • To examine the ideological influence of Hollywood cinema
  • To explore theoretical concepts that employ Hollywood cinema as an example
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Style and System

Week 1: Classical Hollywood Style
Film: Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)

Week 2: Genre and Hollywood Studios: Musical
Film: Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952)

Week 3: Classical Hollywood Stardom
Film: Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)


Week 4: Hollywood and Politics I: The New Deal and World War II
Film: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Week 5: Hollywood and Politics II: The Blacklist and Cold War
Film: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)

Week 6: Reading Week


Week 7: Hollywood and Ideology: Race and Ethnicity
Film: The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer, 1958)

Week 8: Hollywood and Ideology II: Antebellum South
Film: Dixie (A. Edward Sutherland, 1943)

IV. New Trends

Week 9: Independent and Exploitation Cinema (B films)
Film: Jailhouse Rock (Richard Thorpe, 1957)

Week 10: Auteurs and a ‘New’ Hollywood
Film: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the Hollywood filmmaking style
  • Identity key industrial contexts of Hollywood
  • Consider ideology in relation to Hollywood as an American Industry
  • Understand certain political contexts that has informed Hollywood Cinema
Indicative reading list

Allen, Robert C. (1999) ‘The Role of the Star in Film History: Joan Crawford’ in Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, Leo Braudy and M. Cohen (eds.) (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 547-561.

Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson (1985) The Classical
Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (London: Routledge)

Campbell, Jr., Edward D.C. (1981) The Celluloid South: Hollywood and the Southern Myth (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press)

Cook, Pam (ed.) (2007) The Cinema Book, Third edition (London: British Film Institute)

Cripps, Thomas (1993) Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press)

Doherty, Thomas (2002) Teenager and Teenpics: Juvenilization of American Movies (Philadelphia: Temple University)

Doherty, Thomas (2018) Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist (Chichester and New York: Columbia University Press)

Dunne, Michael (2010) ‘Bing Crosby’s Cinematic: “Song of the South”’, Journal of Popular Film and Television 32:1, pp. 31-38.

Dyer, Richard (1992) ‘Entertainment and Utopia’ in Only Entertainment (New York and London: Routledge), pp. 17-34.

Gledhill, Christine (2007) ‘History of Genre Criticism’, in Pam Cook (ed.) The Cinema Book, Third Edition. London: BFI, pp. 250-259.

James, David (2016) Rock ‘N’ Film: Cinema’s Dance With Popular Music (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press)

Knight, Arthur (2002) Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film (Durham and London: Duke University Press)

Lindholm, Charles and John A. Hall (2000) ‘Frank Capra Meets John Doe: Anti-politics in American National Identity’ in Mett Hjort and Scott MacKenzie (eds.) Cinema and Nation (London and New York: Routledge), pp. 32-44.

MacDowell, James (2013) Happy Endings in Hollywood Cinema: Cliché, Convention and the Final Couple (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Maltby, Richard (2003) Hollywood Cinema, Second Edition (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing)

Mann, Katrina (2004) ‘“You’re Next!”: Postwar Hegemony Besieged in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, Cinema Journal 44:1, pp. 49-68.

McDonald, Paul (2000) ‘Controlling the System’ in The Star System: Hollywood’s Production of Popular Identities (London: Wallflower Press), pp. 39-66.

Morgan, Iwan and Philip John Davies (eds.) (2016) Hollywood and the Great Depression: American Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Ray, Robert B. (1985) A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1980 (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

Russell, James (2006) ‘Debts, Disasters and Mega-Musicals: The Decline of the Studio System’ in Linda Ruth Williams and Michael Hammond (eds.) Contemporary American Cinema (Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill), pp. 41-61.

Sarris, Andrew (1996) The American Cinema: Directors and Directions: 1929-1968 (Da Capo Press)

Schatz, Thomas (1988) Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (New York: Metropolitan Books)

Smith, Jeff (2014) Film Criticism, The Cold War, and the Blacklist (Berkeley and London: University of California Press)

Wollen, Peter (1992) Singin’ in the Rain (London: BFI)

Wood, Robin (2002) Hitchcock’s Film’s Revisited, Revised Edition (New York: Columbia University Press)

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

This module develops skills of audio-visual literacy, through historical, textual, and ideological analysis of the moving image. It develops the student's understanding of frameworks that have been relevant to the study of Hollywood cinema.

Transferable skills

critical and analytical thinking
independent research skills
clarity and effectiveness of communication- written and oral
accurate and persuasive writing
audio-visual literacy

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (25%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (25%)
Other activity 18 hours (50%)
Total 36 hours
Private study description

No private study requirements defined for this module.

Other activity description

Screenings each week


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Essay 80%

An extended piece of work that will require detailed discussion of one, or a combination, of the theoretical, analytical and historical aspects of, and approaches to, Hollywood Cinema covered during the module. Detailed information will be provided early in the term including the essay questions.

Essay Plan and Introduction 20%

Students will submit a plan of their final essay and a draft introduction

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback sheets and annotated essays


To take this module, you must have passed:


This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UFIA-W620 Undergraduate Film Studies
  • Year 2 of UFIA-QW25 Undergraduate Film and Literature
  • Year 2 of UFRA-R1WA Undergraduate French with Film Studies