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FLM 113 — Great American Crime Films: From Scarface to Reservoir Dogs

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 27—Dec 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 2
Tuition: $490
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 22
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 27—Dec 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
2 Units
Elliot Lavine
Please Note: No class on November 22
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The thrilling and dangerous backdrop of crime has provided a vivid tableau for writers, directors, and actors since the very beginning of cinema history. With the advent of sound and other sophisticated production techniques, a dynamic cinematic genre was formally born, opening up exciting new possibilities for boldly innovative filmmakers. This course will chart the development of the American crime film from its first heyday during the Great Depression, through the tumult of World War II, and finally into the uncertainty of a burgeoning Atomic Age and beyond.

Highlighting the visceral performances of iconic actors like James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Mitchum, Christopher Walken, and Harvey Keitel—as well as the work of such influential directors as Howard Hawks, Raoul Walsh, Abel Ferrara, the Coen brothers, and Quentin Tarantino—this course, through the viewing and discussion of over 20 key American crime films made between 1932 and 1992, will provide a comprehensively thorough look at one of the American cinema’s most enduring genres while helping to illuminate the reasons why we continue to be drawn to the utterly amoral and psychologically aberrant behavior gleefully on display in these films. The lineup of films tentatively includes Scarface (1932), White Heat (1949), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Miller’s Crossing (1990), and Reservoir Dogs (1992).

All films can be rented or streamed through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, or other online platforms.

Film Historian; Filmmaker

Elliot Lavine has been an active participant in both film production and film exhibition since the late 1970s. He directed a pair of short films in the film noir tradition (early 1980s) and has been cited as among the nation’s leading film programmers, beginning his career at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in 1990. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir.

Textbooks for this course:

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