THE DARK MIRROR:

FILM NOIR AND THE EXILE 

OF GERMAN FILMMAKERS

IN HOLLYWOOD

 

 

Washington University, Spring 2001

German 494, Film and Media Studies 490, Comp Lit 4949, 

English 4501,  Literature and History 4941

 

Lutz Koepnick

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Hitler refugees such as Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmak, Edgar Ulmer, and Billy Wilder played a significant role in the emergence of film noir during the 1940s. Common wisdom has often explained this prominence of German exile directors in film noir by seeing film noir as a direct expression of exile and despair. Separated from a home that had gone crazy, exile directors—according to this argument—revitalized Weimar expressionism in Hollywood so as to articulate personal gloom and warrant forms of authorship amid a studio system dedicated to standardized genre products and escapist star vehicles. This seminar interrogates the German roots of film noir in order to complicate this reasoning. It explores the stylized shapes and traumatic narratives of film noir in order to examine dominant notions of film history and authorship, of cultural transfer, national cinema, exile and displacement, and the popular. Readings and discussions in English. Undergraduates with permission of instructor.

 

Course Description

Required Texts

Papers & Assignments

Grade Breakdown

Office Hours

Telephone & Email

 

Screening Schedule

Course Schedule

 

Position Paper Schedule

 

Reader: Contents

Some Useful Links

 

HANDOUTS
Reading Film

Glossary

 

LECTURE SERIES

Caught by Politics: German Exiles and American Culture during the 1930s and 1940s

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

The following books are required and can be purchased at the Bookstore:

 

·        Elsaesser, Thomas. Weimar Cinema and After: Germany's Historical Imaginary. London: Routledge, 2000.

·        Hill, John W., and Pamela Church Gibson. The Oxford guide to film studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

·        Kaes, Anton. M. London: BFI, 2000.

·        Silver, Alain, and  James Ursini. Eds. Film Noir Reader. 6th ed. New York : Limelight Editions, 2000.

 

Additional readings are marked with an “*” and will be available in reader to be purchased from the German Department.

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PAPERS AND ASSIGNMENTS

·        Online Submission. Participants will be asked to provide one online position paper on selected readings. These 500 word submissions shall be send online to the entire class twenty-four hours before the class session for which the readings are assigned.

·        Seminar Paper. Participants will be asked to compose in the cour­se of the sem­ester either: two essays (5-8 pages), topics will be suggested or may be proposed; or one critical research paper (15-20 pages). Those students preferring to write a research paper will be asked to submit a one-page abstract and to have their topics approved by April 5.

 

GRADE BREAKDOWN

Essay(s): 40%

Position Paper: 20%

Participation: 40%

 

OFFICE HOURS

Ridgley 328

M 2:30 – 3:30 & W 2:30 – 3:30

 

TELEPHONE & EMAIL

314.935.4350

lkoep@artsci.wustl.edu

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SCREENING SCHEDULE

Required screenings take place on Wednesdays in Brown 100, at 4 pm.

 

1/17: Robert Siodmak, People on a Sunday (1929)

1/24: Fritz Lang, M (1931)

1/31: Karl Freund, Mad Love (1935)

2/7: Fritz Lang, Fury (1936)

2/13: Fritz Lang, You and Me (1938) [special in-class screening]

2/14: Ernst Lubitsch, To Be Or Not To Be (1942)

2/15: Fritz Lang, Hangmen also Die (1943) [special in-class screening]

2/21: Robert Siodmak, Phantom Lady (1944) [Steinberg Hall, 8 pm]

2/22: Hans Richter, Dreams that Money Can Buy (1944-47) [Steinberg Hall, 5 pm]

2/28: Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944) [Steinberg Hall, 8 pm]

3/7: Otto Preminger, Laura (1944)

3/21: Fritz Lang, Scarlet Street (1945) [Steinberg Hall, 8 pm]

3/28: Edgar Ulmer, Detour (1945)

4/4: Robert Siodmak, The Spiral Staircase (1946)

4/5: Josef von Sternberg, The Shanghai Gesture (1941) [special in-class screening]

4/11: Robert Siodmak, The Killers (1946)

4/18: Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard (1950)

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COURSE SCHEDULE

 

(S: Screening / F: Film / T: Text)

 


WEEK ONE


 

January 16

Introduction

 

January 17

S:       Robert Siodmak, People on a Sunday (1929)

 

January 18

F:       People on a Sunday

T:       Stephen Crofts, “Concepts of National Cinema” (in Hill/Gibson)

 


WEEK TWO


 

January 23

F:       People on a Sunday

T:       Thomas Elsaesser, “Erich Pommer, ‘Die UFA’, and Germany’s bid for a studio system”

 

January 24

S:       Fritz Lang, M (1931)

 

January 25

F:       M

T:       Anton Kaes, M (7-38)

 


WEEK THREE


 

January 30

F:       M

T:       Anton Kaes, M (38-80)

 

January 31

S:       Karl Freund, Mad Love (1935)

 

February 1

F:       Mad Love

T:       John Belton, “American cinema and film history” (in Hill/Gibson)

          Douglas Gomery, “Hollywood as industry” (in Hill/Gibson)

          E. Ann Kaplan, “Classical Hollywood film and melodrama” (in Hill/Gibson)

 


WEEK FOUR


 

February 6

F:       Mad Love

T:       Thomas Elsaesser, “To be or not to be: extra-territorial in Vienna-Berlin-Hollywood”

          *Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, “What is a Minor Literature”

 

February 7

S:       Fritz Lang, Fury (1936)

 

February 8

F:       Fury

T:       Stephen Crofts, “Authorship and Hollywood” (in Hill/Gibson)

         


WEEK FIVE


 

February 13

No class

S:       Fritz Lang, You and Me (1938)

T:       *Tom Gunning, “You and Me

 

February 14

S:       Ernst Lubitsch, To Be Or Not To Be (1942)

 

February 15

No class

S:       Fritz Lang, Hangmen also Die (1943)

T:       *Thomas Schatz, Boom and Bust: The American Cinema in the 1940s (sel)

*David Bordwell, “The Classical Hollywood Style”

 


WEEK SIX


 

February 20

T:       *Max Horkheimer / Theodor W. Adorno, “The Culture Industry”

          *Nico Israel, “Adorno, Los Angeles, and the Dislocation of Culture”

 

February 21

S:       Robert Siodmak, Phantom Lady (1944)

 

February 22

F:       Phantom Lady

T:       Thomas Elsaesser, “Caligari’s legacy? Film noir as film history’s German imaginary”

          *Catherine Portuges, “Accenting L.A.”

 


WEEK SEVEN


 

February 27

F:       Phantom Lady

T:       *James Naremore, “Old is New: Styles of Noir”

Tony Williams, “Phantom Lady, Cornell Woolrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic” (in Silver/Ursini)

 

February 28

S:       Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944)

 

March 1

F:       Double Indemnity

T:       *Steve Neal, “Questions of Genre”

          Tom Ryall, “Genre and Hollywood” (in Hill/Gibson)

 


WEEK EIGHT


 

March 6

F:       Double Indemnity

T:       *James Naremore, “Modernism and Blood Melodrama” (sel)

          Borde and Chaumeton, “Towards a Definition of Film Noir” (in Silver/Ursini)

 

March 7

S:       Otto Preminger, Laura (1944)

 

March 8

F:       Laura

T:       *Joan Copjec, “The Phenomenal Nonphenomenal: Private Space in Film Noir

 


WEEK NINE


 

March 20

T:       *Doreen Massey, “Double Articulation: A Place in the World”

          *Edward Said, “Intellectual Exile: Expatriates and Marginals”

 

March 21

S:       Fritz Lang, Scarlet Street (1945)

 

March 22

F:       Scarlet Street

T:       *Deborah Thomas, “Psychoanalysis and Film Noir”

 


WEEK TEN


 

March 27

F:       Scarlet Street

T:       *Deborah Thomas, “How Hollywood Deals with the Deviant Male”

 

March 28

S:       Edgar Ulmer, Detour (1945)

 

March 29

F:       Detour

T:       Raymond Durgnat, “Paint it Black” (in Silver/Ursini)

          Paul Schrader, “Notes on Film Noir” (in Silver/Ursini)

          Janey Place and Lowell Peterson, “Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir” (in Silver/Ursini)

 


WEEK ELEVEN


 

April 3

F:       Detour

T:       *Elizabeth Cowie, “Film Noir and Women”

 

April 4

S:       Robert Siodmak, The Spiral Staircase (1946)

 

April 5

No class

S:       Josef von Sternberg, The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

 


WEEK TWELVE


 

April 10

F:       The Spiral Staircase

T:       *Kaja Silverman, “Body Talk”

 

April 11

S:       Robert Siodmak, The Killers (1946)

 

April 12

F:       The Killers

T:       Robert Porfirio, “No Way Out: Existential Motifs in the Film Noir” (in Silver/Ursini)

*Jonathan Buchsbaum, “Tame Wolves and Phoney Claims: Paranoia and Film Noir”

 


WEEK THIRTEEN


 

April 17

F:       The Killers

T:       *Marc Vernet, “Film Noir on the Edge of Doom”

 

April 18

S:       Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard (1950)

 

April 19

F:       Sunset Boulevard

T:       Paul Kerr, “Out of What Past?” (in Silver/Ursini)

 


WEEK FOURTEEN


 

April 24

F:       Sunset Boulevard

T:       *Miriam Bratu Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses”

 

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SOME USEFUL LINKS

 

Internet Movie Database
Film Index International
Screensite: Information Services
Movie Cliche List

 

Film and Media Studies Site, Olin Library, Washington University

http://library.wustl.edu/subjects/film/

 

German Cinema Site, UC Berkeley

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/germanfilmresources.html

 

Selected Bibliography of Readings on German Film (UC Berkeley Library)

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/Germanfilmbib.html

 

The German-Hollywood Connection

http://www.german-way.com/cinema/index.html

 

Film Museum Berlin / Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek

http://www.filmmuseum-berlin.de/

 

CineGraph (Hamburgisches Centrum für Filmforschung e.V.)

http://www.cinegraph.de/en/index.html

 

Stichworte zur Geschichte des deutschen Films (Goethe Institute)

http://www.goethe.de/z/wwfilm/stichw/degesch.htm

 

German Film Links

http://castle.uvic.ca/german/439/glinks.html

 

German Film Links (via About.com)

http://worldfilm.about.com/movies/worldfilm/msub-ger.htm?once=true&]

 

German Film and Related Topics (Bibliography) (University of Houston)

http://www.uh.edu/academics/de/frieden/germanfilmread.html

 

Expressionist Film in the Weimar Republic

http://users.deltanet.com/users/lukelin/gerfilm.html

 

German Expressionist Cinema 1919 - 1933 (by Fabian Ziesing)

http://www.stud.uni-hannover.de/user/73853/gerexp.html

 

 

 

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