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FLM 91 — Before They Stopped the Party: The Greatest Pre-Code Movies

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 13—Mar 17
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 15
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $435
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 13—Mar 17
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 15
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Mick LaSalle
Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Nearly a century ago, American movies were in the midst of a golden age brought on by feminism, by the social and sexual revolutions of the 1920s, and by a lack of screen censorship. Today we call this “the pre-Code era,” the five years before a restrictive Production Code began to limit women’s roles and turn Hollywood into a moralistic and propagandistic vehicle for promoting traditional values and entrenched authority.

In this course, you will be guided through the key films, movements, and players of this incalculably rich era. You will view films about marriage and divorce (The Divorcee), crime and homosexuality (Little Caesar), the power dynamics of class (Downstairs), the strains of the Great Depression (Gold Diggers of 1933 and The Mayor of Hell), business corruption (Skyscraper Souls), the abuse of indigenous peoples (Massacre), and experiments in alternative relationships (Design for Living). You will become acquainted with central pioneers of this era such as Barbara Stanwyck, Norma Shearer, Warren William, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Barthelmess, Joan Crawford, and Jean Harlow. Just as there is something powerful about reading a poem from centuries ago that expresses your own feelings, there is something at least as moving in seeing and hearing people from almost a century ago enacting struggles and passions we can recognize from our own lives.

Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood; Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man; The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses; and Dream State: California in the Movies. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and other Hearst newspapers.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.