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WSP 340 — The Hollywood Blacklist: Great Films from a Dark Moment in Cinema History

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Fri - Sun
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: See below
Date(s): Feb 9—Feb 11
Drop Deadline: Feb 9
Unit: 1
Tuition: $305
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Status: Open
Please Note: Full schedule: Friday, February 9, 6:00 – 9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and February 11, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fri - Sun
Feb 9—Feb 11
See below
Drop By
Feb 9
1 Unit
Elliot Lavine
Please Note: Full schedule: Friday, February 9, 6:00 – 9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and February 11, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
This three-day workshop will focus on one of the film world’s most notorious chapters: the Hollywood Blacklist—a government-mandated witch-hunt that decimated the movie community in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Writers, directors, actors—everyone was subjected to dogged scrutiny by the House Un-American Activities Committee in a feverish attempt to rid Hollywood of the threat of communism at the end of World War II. The overall effects of the Blacklist eventually led to the dissolution of many great careers. The films of those directors, actors, and writers will be on display during this thrilling evocation of Hollywood’s most dangerous period.

Genre films, particularly crime stories and westerns, became the fertile soil that provided filmmakers with a platform for their personal agendas. Many low-budget films carried subversive political and social subtexts that often went unnoticed by censors and government watchdogs, enabling a stream of highly charged, meaningful films to invade the public consciousness. Ultimately these artists would pay a severe price for the right to freely express their ideas and concerns, leaving behind a battle-scarred Hollywood landscape that would take decades to heal.

We will watch and discuss six extraordinary films from this period, including Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire (1947), Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952), and Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil (1948), among others.

Grade restriction: No letter grade.

Elliot Lavine, Film Programmer

Elliot Lavine has been programming films since 1990, including his annual film noir festival, “I Wake Up Dreaming.” In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco 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.