'B' movies from the golden age of Hollywood

Course Dates: 28/11/20 - 05/12/20
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online

Once a significant part of Hollywood's output, the 'B' movie, characterised by low budgets, shorter running times and an absence of stars, originated in a Depression era strategy offering a cheaper, second feature as part of a double bill. Explore the history of the 'B' movie through a range of examples and consider their production and exhibition contexts along with their critical reputations.

This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


What is the course about?

The history and development of the Hollywood 'B' movie from its emergence in the 1930s to its disappearance in the 1950s, looking at issues such as film style, genre, and commercial function. We will also be thinking about the way that these films have been understood by audiences and critics.

Course tutor: Jon Wisbey.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

• The classical Hollywood style and mode of production from the 1930s to the 1950s.
• Major studio, independent and 'poverty row' producers of 'B' movies.
• Hollywood's marketing, distribution and exhibition practices from the 1930s to the 1950s.
• Analysis of key examples of the Hollywood 'B' movie, including both well known, critically acclaimed films, and lesser known examples.
• Key producers and directors of Hollywood 'B' movies (e.g., Joseph H. Lewis, Edgar G. Ulmer, Val Lewton and Roger Corman).
• Popular and critical responses the Hollywood 'B' movie.

Suggested viewing
Classics including The Vampire Bat (1933), Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), Wagon Train (1940), Cat People (1942), Detour (1945), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Terror in a Texas Town (1958), forgotten gems such as It Conquered the World (1956) and The She-Creature (1956), series films featuring Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, the Saint, the Falcon, and singing cowboys films.

Suggested reading:
Robin Cross, The Big Book of B Movies or How Low was My Budget (Frederick Muller, 1981).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Understand and evaluate the production contexts in which the 'B' movie emerged.
• Identify key producers of 'B' movies.
• Evaluate marketing strategies and distribution and exhibition practices for 'B' movies.
• Evaluate style, theme and genre in a range of key 'B' movies.
• Identify and evaluate a range of producers and directors associated with 'B' movies.
• Evaluate a range of critical responses to key 'B' movies.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is suitable for all levels and you do not require any particular skills - just an enthusiasm for film and discussing film. The course will provide an introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge in the subject area.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Screenings of extracts from films, talks by the tutor, reading materials, group discussions. It might also be a good idea to see what you can find out about the subject in advance of the class (see suggested viewing and reading, above) but this is not essential.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will require a pen and notepad (or laptop/device) but the tutor will provide all other materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for more Film Studies courses under History, Culture and Writing/film studies at www.citylit.ac.uk..

Tutor Biographies
Jon Wisbey

Jon Wisbey teaches film at City Lit and Morley College. He was for many years a committee member and vice-chair of Chelmsford Film Club, screening contemporary and classic world cinema releases. He has an MA in Film Studies from the University of East Anglia. His teaching focuses on classical and post-classical Hollywood, European cinema, British cinema, film noir and horror cinema.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HF187

Sat, day, 28 Nov - 05 Dec '20

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Full fee: £59.00
Senior fee: £47.00
Concession: £36.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.