The other side of Hollywood: 'B' movies and exploitation cinema
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF241
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
This online film studies course looks at the emergence of the 'B' movie in the 1930s as an industry strategy for extending the theatrical experience during the Depression era to include two features, with the 'B' film occupying the bottom half of the programme. We will explore the production and supply of 'B' movies, initially by minor, 'poverty row' studios, and, later, by the majors' own in-house 'B' units once it was recognised that they had an important role to play in exhibition, and the decline in their production in the 1950s once the industry, in an era of transition, switched to producing and exhibiting bigger films that no longer required a supporting feature. Concomitant with this development, we will consider the rise of the 'exploitation' film - previously only a marginal area of production - usually produced by an emerging independent sector, and aimed a new, younger audience that had emerged in the 1950s. We will explore the ways in which such films 'exploited' popular themes, and their utilisation of gimmicks in both their advertising and as part of the theatrical experience itself. As such, we will note that both 'B' movies and the 'exploitation' film were designed with a specific function in periods of economic hardship and cultural change respectively.
Films featured on the course will include: The Vampire Bat (Frank R. Strayer, 1933), Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster, 1940), Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945, Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942), Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950), Roger Corman classics such as It Conquered the World (1956), Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), and Bloody Mama (1970), and William Castle favourites including The Tingler (1959), House on Haunted Hill (1959), and Strait-Jacket (1964) - and others.
The tutor will provide notes for the course and advise on further reading and viewing.
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.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Production, distribution and exhibition practices in Hollywood, 1930-1970
• The production, distribution and exhibition of 'B' movies
• The production, distribution and exhibition of the 'exploitation' film
• Key films and filmmakers
• Genre and classical film style
• The Production Code Administration (PCA)
• Critical accounts of the 'B' movie and 'exploitation' film.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Describe Hollywood's key practices in the period 1930-1960
• Describe and evaluate the function of the 'B' movie
• Describe and evaluate the function of 'exploitation' cinema
• Identify and evaluate range of key films and filmmakers
• Describe and evaluate genre and classical film style
• Describe the function of the Production Code Administration (PCA)
• Evaluate the 'B' movie and 'exploitation' film within a critical framework.
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, small and large group discussions. It might also be a good idea to see what you can find out about the subject in advance of the class, but this is not essential.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will require a pen and paper (or laptop/device) but the tutor will provide all other materials such as handouts. The tutor will show extracts from films and you do not have to obtain them.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other Film Studies courses on our website, www.citylit.ac.uk under History, Culture and Writing/Film Studies.
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.