Thursday, June 13, 2019

Final Exam! Film Projects!

Please complete your final exam for this course. When you are done, you may use the lab next door to work on your film project. Projects are due tomorrow (by 11:59 p.m.). Please upload your Youtube URL and leave the address in the COMMENT section below or submit your film to Google classroom.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Psycho; Film Project; 1960's Film Trends

We will screen the rest of Psycho today and work on our film projects and mention 1960's film trends.

1960's Film Trends:
With the change in restrictions based on the rating system from the MPAA, content in films gets grittier, more violent, more sexual, and more...well...Hollywood. View a few clips of famous films and film categories developed in the 1960s. Take notes on your graphic organizer. This material is fair game for the upcoming exam. Note years, genres, actors, directors, and films.

1960's Epic/Costume Drama Films:
Spartacus (1960) Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Charleton Heston, Peter Ustinov
El Cid (1961) Charleton Heston
Cleopatra (1963) Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton
Becket (1964) Richard Burton & Peter O'Toole
The Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews & Christopher Plumber
Doctor Zhivago (1965) Julie Christie, Omar Sharif
The Lion in Winter (1968) Peter O'Toole & Katherine Hepburn
Planet of the Apes (1968, Rod Serling screenwriter; Franklin Schaffner, dir.) Charleton Heston

Angry Young Man Films:
Look Back in Anger (1959) Richard Burton
The Loneliness of the Longdistance Runner (1962)
The Caretaker (1963)
The Leather Boys (1963)
If (1968) Malcolm McDowell
Easy Rider (1969) Dennis Hopper

Beatles' Films
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Help! (1965)
The Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Yellow Submarine (1968)

Famous/Influential Directors

Stanley Kubrick: Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964, Peter Sellers), 2001, a Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971, Malcolm McDowell)
John Ford: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
George Pal: The Time Machine (1960), Jason & the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years BC (1966)
John Frankenheimer: The Young Savages (1961), The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Arthur Penn: The Miracle Worker (1962), Bonny & Clyde (1967), Alice's Restaurant (1969)
Robert Aldrich: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) with Bette Davis & Joan Crawford; The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Blake Edwards: Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961, with Audrey Hepburn); The Pink Panther (1963 with Peter Sellers)
Alfred Hitchcock: The Birds (1963, Tipi Hedren), Marnie (1964, Sean Connery, Tipi Hedren), Torn Curtain (1966, with Julie Andrews & Paul Newman)
James Bond Films: Dr. No (1962, Sean Connery), Goldfinger (1964, Sean Connery)

African American Films:
Sidney Poitier films: A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Lilies of the Field (1963), To Sir With Love (1967), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

HOMEWORK: Study this information for your upcoming test. Continue to work on your film projects. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Film Project: Day 5; Drive In Movies, Sci-Fi Films; Ed Wood; Roger Corman; Samuel Z. Arkoff; and William Castle

Please turn in your homework (chapter notes) today for participation credit. 

Please work on your film projects this morning (until 8:05). If you are the editor (or director) of your film, or you are shooting part of your film this morning, you may skip the material below and complete it as HOMEWORK (see below). If you are not filming today or are not working directly on your film project, please read the following and take notes as appropriate. View the links and note the important elements of film history. Much of this information will be on your final exam on Thursday, June 13.

1950's Cinema Trends:

Drive-In Theatres:

Richard Hollingshead, a young sales manager at his dad's Whiz Auto Products, invented something that combined his two interests: cars and movies.

Richard Hollingshead's vision was an open-air movie theater where moviegoers could watch from their own cars. He experimented in his own driveway in New Jersey. Hollingshead mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, projected onto a screen he had nailed to trees in his backyard, and used a radio placed behind the screen for sound. Clever!

The inventor subjected his beta drive-in to vigorous testing: for sound quality, for different weather conditions (Hollingshead used a lawn sprinkler to imitate rain) and for figuring out how to park the patrons' cars. He lined up the cars in his driveway, which created a problem with line of sight. By spacing cars at various distances and placing blocks and ramps under the front wheels of cars, Richard Hollingshead created the perfect parking arrangement for the drive-in movie theater experience.

The first patent for the Drive-In Theater (United States Patent# 1,909,537) was issued on May 16, 1933. With an investment of $30,000, Richard opened the first drive-in on June 6, 1933, at a location in Camden, New Jersey. The price of admission was 25 cents for the car and 25 cents per person.

The design did not include the in-car speaker system we know today. The inventor contacted a company by the name of RCA Victor to provide the sound system, called "Directional Sound." Three main speakers were mounted next to the screen that provided sound. The sound quality was not good for cars in the rear of the theater or for the surrounding neighbors.

The largest drive-in theater in patron capacity was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York. All-Weather had parking space for 2,500 cars, an indoor 1,200 seat viewing area, kid's playground, a full-service restaurant and a shuttle train that took customers from their cars and around the 28-acre theater lot.

Please take a look at these clips. Drive in down memory lane...

Clip A. (short historical documentary)
Clip B.
Clip C (horror trailers)

You might be interested in Rochester's only Drive-In Movie Theater:
The Vintage Drive-In in Avon. For extra credit, you may gather your friends and head out there. Write a short review of your experience and turn in by 6/17 for extra participation credit.

Science Fiction (or sci-fi), the Cold War, and its result:

The Cold War and the fear of nuclear annihilation by the communists is reflected in the many b-films made in the 1950's. Here's a sampling. Enjoy!
Ed Wood (Jr.) (10 October 1924 – 10 December 1978) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, actor, author, and editor, who often performed many of these functions simultaneously. In the 1950s, Wood made a run of cheap and poorly produced genre films, now humorously celebrated for their technical errors, unsophisticated special effects, large amounts of ill-fitting stock footage, idiosyncratic dialogue, eccentric casts and outlandish plot elements, although his flair for showmanship gave his projects at least a modicum of critical success.

Wood's popularity waned soon after his biggest 'name' star, Béla Lugosi, died. He was able to salvage a saleable feature from Lugosi's last moments on film, but his career declined thereafter. Toward the end of his life, Wood made pornographic movies and wrote pulp crime, horror, and sex novels. His posthumous fame began two years after his death when he was awarded a Golden Turkey Award as Worst Director of All Time. The lack of conventional film making ability in his work has earned Wood and his films a considerable cult following.
Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926), sometimes nicknamed "King of the Bs" for his output of B-movies, is a prolific American producer and director of low-budget movies, some of which have an established critical reputation: many of his films derived from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

Corman has apprenticed many now-famous directors, stressing the importance of budgeting and resourcefulness; Corman once joked he could make a film about the fall of the Roman Empire with two extras and a sagebush.
Samuel Z. Arkoff and American International Pictures (or AIP). The material below will help you understand this period of history as we move into the strange 1950's. Please take notes of key ideas and information. Read the handout for the exam next week.


"By the early 1950's, Samuel Z. Arkoff was a brash lawyer scratching out a living by representing his in-laws and the Hollywood fringe, which included many of now-infamous director/angora-clad transvestite Edward D. Wood Jr.'s social circle. Arkoff was physically imposing and capable of scaring anyone who opposed him. One of his clients was Alex Gordon, a screenwriter who had submitted an unsolicited script to Realart Pictures, an outfit that was profitably re-releasing 20-year old movies, often under new titles conjured up by its owner, Jack Broder.

One such film, Man Made Monster (1941), had just been re-issued as The Atomic Monster, coincidentally the same title of Gordon's screenplay. Zarkoff paid Mr. Broder a $500 settlement. Broder's sales manager, James H. Nicholson was dumbfounded by Zarkoff's ability to extract a dime out of his tightfisted boss and proposed a partnership. American Releasing Corporation was founded in 1954 and their first release was a low-budget feature by 29-year old producer Roger Corman. Made for less than $50,000, it netted $850,000 and Corman was brought into the fold as a silent partner.

By 1955 the company was renamed American International Pictures, or simply AIP within the industry. Initially focusing on westerns on the premise that locations came cheap, and although profitable, Arkoff was unhappy with the returns and solicited theater owners for advice on what types of films filled seats. By the mid-1950s, thanks to television, the audience numbers had dwindled considerably with the key demographic now teenagers and young adults, who craved horror movies and drive-ins. AIP jumped into the horror genre with both feet and made a fortune. Under Nicholson and Arkoff, the company survived in a constricting industry by catering to the whims of the teenage trade and adapting to trends.

AIP's long (350-plus) roster of kitsch classics, running the gamut from horror to rock'n'roll, from juvenile delinquency to Italian musclemen, and from Edgar Allan Poe to Annette Funicello, have formed their own unique niche in film history. His company became infamous for clever advertising schemes that were often more entertaining than AIP's movies.  Arkoff never tolerated egos and his films were more often than not, profitable, thanks to tight budgets and a sharp understanding of the target market. After Nicholson's 1972 resignation, Arkoff assumed full control of the company and remained in charge until the 1979 merger with Filmways prompted his own departure. He then became the head of Arkoff International Pictures."
William CastleThe Wonderful World of William Castle

Competing with a growing television audience, filmmakers in the 1950's had to entice viewers into seeing their films. Trailers were the ticket! The worse the film, the greater the need for an effective trailer. Of the best promoters of his directing and producing work, William Castle looms over all others.

"William Schloss was born in New York City. Schloss means "castle" in German, and William Castle probably chose to translate his surname into English to avoid the discrimination often encountered by Jewish entertainers of his time. He spent most of his teenage years working on Broadway in a number of jobs. He left for Hollywood at the age of 23, going on to direct his first film when he was 29. He also worked as an assistant to Orson Welles, doing much of the location work for Welles' noir film, The Lady from Shanghai."

Castle was famous for directing low budget B-films with many overly promoted gimmicks. Five of these were scripted by adventure novelist Robb White. William Castle was called the "Master of Movie Horror."

After a long career, William Castle died of a heart attack in Los Angeles in 1977.

His films include:

Macabre (1958): A certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd's of London was given to each customer in case he/she should die of fright during the film. Showings also had fake nurses stationed in the lobbies and hearses parked outside the theater. Utube clip: Macabre:

House on Haunted Hill (1959): Filmed in "Emergo". An inflatable glow in the dark skeleton attached to a wire floated over the audience during the final moments of some showings of the film to parallel the action on the screen when a skeleton arose from a vat of acid and pursued the villainous wife of Vincent Price. The gimmick did not always instill fright; sometimes the skeleton became a target for some audience members who hurled candy boxes, soda cups or any other objects at hand at the skeleton.

The Tingler (1959): Filmed in "Percepto". Some seats in theatres showing the Tingler were equipped with larger versions of the hand-held joy buzzers attached to the underside of the seats. When the Tingler in the film attacked the audience the buzzers were activated as a voice encouraged the real audience to "Scream - scream for your lives."

13 Ghosts (1960): Filmed in "Illusion-O". A hand held ghost viewer/remover with strips of red and blue cellophane was given out to use during certain segments of the film. By looking through either the red or blue cellophane the audience was able to either see or remove the ghosts if they were too frightening. 13 Ghosts.

Homicidal (1961): This film contained a "Fright break" with a 45 second timer overlaid over the film's climax as the heroine approached a house harboring a sadistic killer. A voiceover advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave the theatre and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the remainder of the film. About 1% demanded refunds, but were subjected to demasculation and called "cowards". Homicidal clip.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961): The audiences were allowed to vote in a "punishment poll" during the climax of the film - Castle appears on screen to explain to the audience their options. Each member of the audience was given a card with a glow in the dark thumb they could hold either up or down to decide if Mr. Sardonicus would be cured or die during the end of the film. Supposedly, no audience ever offered mercy so the alternate ending was never screened.

 (1962): Each patron was given a "Magic" (gold colored plastic) coin which looked nice, but did absolutely nothing.

Strait-Jacket (1964): Castle had cardboard axes made and handed out to patrons. This film, by the way, starred Oscar winner (not for this film) Joan Crawford - Mommy Dearest herself.

I Saw What You Did  (1965): Seat belts were installed to keep patrons from being jolted from their chairs in fright.

Other film trailers from William Castle:
William Castle acted as producer to Roman Polanski's direction of: Rosemary's Baby The film remains one of the most artistic Castle productions ever made.

Hitchcock Films in the 50's:

In the 50's he went on to make these films: Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954),  The Trouble With Harry (1955), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Wrong Man (1956), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), and North By Northwest (1959)

Psycho: 1960, Alfred Hitchcock (Part 1)

One way to appreciate film is by examining its narrative structure. As young writers, this is a great exercise. You can learn a lot about writing by paying attention to narrative.

Narrative can be:
• Omniscient
• Limited (over the shoulder)/Restricted
• Multiple Perspective

Narrative largely depends on how time (or chronology) works in the story.

Chronology: (how time works in a story)
• Chronological/linear time
• Non-chronological/non-linear
• Flashback
• Frame

When we examine time and narrative in film, we should ask:
  • Who does the camera favor?
This is your clue as to who you need to be concerned with/about. Try to use this technique in your film projects.

Hitchcock applies several effective narrative techniques to keep his audience on its toes. The most famous of these is:

The MacGuffin: an object of importance to the characters but of little interest to the director (and consequently to the viewer).

As you watch Psycho, pay attention to:
1. The MacGuffin (what is it for which character?)
2. the Set-up
3. the 1st turning point or crisis
4. Development & shifting of POV (and our loyalties/concerns)
5. Other turning points (there can be several of these)
6. the Climax
7. the Resolution: how the film ends (and what that suggests)

HOMEWORK: Complete any viewing or links from this post to prepare for your upcoming final exam (Thursday). 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Rear Window (Conclusion); Film Project Day 4

We will screen the rest of Rear Window today, then spend the rest of class working on our film projects. See handouts and links from last class for homework.

HOMEWORK: Continue working on your film projects. Read the articles/handouts on Hitchcock: for Rear Window (& Rope);  "About Hitchcock"Anecdotes, and "Alfred Hitchcock and the making of a film culture". Read the articles on "The Emergence of TV", "HUAC" & "AIP, A Blueprint for Success" and take Cornell notes on the articles. These notes will be turned in for participation credit.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Final Exam Review

Our final exam covers a lot. Please study and use the notes you took in class (there was a reason you should have taken notes) to study from. Look back at the blog posts and read or view the clips/articles that were linked. You will be responsible for anything that is posted there--including:
  • The Movies Learn to Speak (article)
  • The Jazz Singer (1927) & Don Juan (1926), Al Jolson, Vitaphone, etc.
  • The Benefits and Problems concerning SOUND IN FILM
  • 1930's Golden Age of Film: (blog post and crash course video)
  • Hal Roach, Laurel & Hardy, "The Music Box" (1931), The Little Rascals
  • Universal Horror films and stars
  • Screwball comedies & style
  • Frank Capra films, in particular, It's a Wonderful Life (article/blog)
  • Genre films of the 1930's/1940's: Gangster, War, Westerns, Musicals, Animation, Adventure
  • Famous actors/personalities in 1930's & 1940's films
  • The Marx Brothers: Duck Soup (1933)
  • Influence of the Great Depression on film, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart
  • Bringing Up Baby & His Girl Friday (Screwball comedy)
  • Narratology, style of film, narrative techniques, avant-garde films
  • Technicolor (Walt Disney article) and color in film
  • Walt Disney, Snow White (1937) (article & blog posts)
  • The Wizard of Oz & Gone With the Wind (1939, color in film)
  • How to write a treatment, 3-act structure; how to write a script
  • John Huston, dir.; Humphrey Bogart: The Maltese Falcon
  • Film Noir (article "Murder, Greed, & Betrayal: The Dark Streets of Film Noir")
  • The characteristics of Film Noir, how German Expressionism influenced Film Noir, etc.
  • Orson Welles; "Orson Welles Comes to Town" (article); Citizen Kane (1942) (article/blog)
  • Greg Toland's cinematography and innovation in Citizen Kane (article) & this video as well: Citizen Kane: Crash Course Film Criticism #1
  • World War II and its effect on the film industry
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954), Rope (1947), Psycho (1960); the MacGuffin (blog & article handouts)
  • Rope: How Alfred Hitchcock Changed Editing Forever (video)
  • Rear Window: Hitchcock's Manipulation of the Audience (viewer) (video)
  • Alfred Hitchcock on 3 Theories of Editing (video)
  • The Emergence of Television (article)
  • Samuel Goldwyn (MGM), the influence of television on the film industry ("The Emergence of Television" article)
  • Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg & the Actor's Studio in New York; influence on actors like Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.
  • HUAC and the Communist Witch Hunt, McCarthy Era, Fatty Arbuckle scandal, Ring Lardner, blacklisting (HUAC article)
  • Teenage films of the 1950's (blog)
  • Drive-in Theaters (blog)
  • AIP & Samuel Z. Arkoff (American International Pictures: A Blueprint for Success" article)
  • Ed Wood & Roger Corman & "B" films
  • William Castle
  • 1950's Science Fiction films, The Cold War & its influence on film
  • 1960's film trends
  • MPPA relaxing its restrictions (Article)
  • Jack Valenti, Mike Nichols, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966) ("Relaxing Restrictions: MPAA Ratings System article)
  • Rating system: G, M, R, X and what the letter stands for--later G, PG, R, NC17
  • Writing a film treatment
  • How to direct, produce, shoot, and how to edit a film; how to write a film script
  • Mise-en-scene & deep focus shots, auteur, diegetic & non-diegetic sound, styles of film, mise-en-shot, montage, continuity editing, editing, producing, etc. (various posts)
  • Angles, shot types, 180-degree rule, how to direct, produce, and write a film, etc.
  • Producers, directors, writers, foley artist, grip, cinematographers, and film occupations

Film Project: Day 3; Rear Window (Day 1)

This morning, please continue to work on your film projects. Get together with your group and/or move forward with the following:

Producers: make sure the film project is going forward to meet your deadline (end of week next week!); Assist your director! Make sure your editor knows what production company this student film will be called. Ex. Paramount Pictures, RKO Pictures, Castlerock Entertainment, Disney Studios, MGM, etc. Watch this video:
Directors: make sure you move the film project forward. When are you shooting the film? What film has been handed over to your editor? Are the shots your director of photography (cinematographer) shot appropriate for the film? Is the script done? Do the actors know their lines? Etc. Watch this video:
Cinematographer/director of photography: shoot your film. Train yourself to shoot appropriate footage with style... Watch these videos:
Editor(s): select your still files or shots, begin editing any film footage your director or cinematographer has given you. Complete your opening/ending credits. Watch this video:
Sound Editor: select your music files for diegetic and non-diegetic sound effects. Record your actors' dialogue for scenes that did not sound good.
Actors: learn your lines for each scene given to you. Show up at the shoot with your props/costumes ready to film.

Writers: complete your script and share this with your director/producer and the actors in your group.

You might find these videos helpful (that is, watch them!) Some of this material will be on your final exam!
In the 50's Alfred Hitchcock went on to make these films: Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), and North By Northwest (1959)

Read the article on Rear Window (handout). Material from this and the Rope article (as well as some of the videos--see film review above) will be on the final exam (see above). We will be screening the first part of Rear Window around 8:05.

James Stewart...    L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies
Grace Kelly...        Lisa Fremont
Wendell Corey...   Detective Thomas J. Doyle
Thelma Ritter...     Stella
Raymond Burr...   Lars Thorwald
Judith Evelyn...     Miss Lonelyhearts
Ross Bagdasarian... Songwriter
Georgine Darcy...  Miss Torso
Sara Berner...        Woman on Fire Escape
Frank Cady...        Man on Fire Escape
Jesslyn Fax...        Miss Hearing Aid
Rand Harper/Havis Davenport... Newlyweds

HOMEWORK: Continue working on your film projects. Read the articles/handouts on Hitchcock: for Rear Window (& Rope);  "About Hitchcock"Anecdotes, and "Alfred Hitchcock and the making of a film culture". Read the article on "The Emergence of TV" & "HUAC". 

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...