The 1950s: Film, Perfection & Propaganda

Subject 107-270 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1-hour lecture, a 1-hour tutorial and a 2-hour screening per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually fifty points of first year arts. Completion of either 106-101 or 107-132 is strongly recommended.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Angela Ndalianis

Subject Overview:

This subject will focus on the decade of the 1950s as a radical turning point in cinematic history. Considering the integral relationship that exists between the film product and society, attention will turn to key historical, economic and technological factors that affected the formal and aesthetic properties of the cinema. The darker side of 1950s Hollywood will be investigated by looking at the restructuring of the studio structure, the effect of McCarthyism, the HUAC hearings and the silencing of 'dissenting' voices. Themes and theoretical issues will include: cold war propaganda; gender, race, class and ethnicity; consumerism; ideology; the establishment of a critical and theoretical film culture. Emphasis will also be placed on the popularity of television, the shift to suburbia and the impact on film viewing and production; the rise of a new leisure culture and audience concerns with the more active experiences offered by new immersive, surround sound and widescreen film technologies such as Cinerama, Cinemascope and 3D, and by new spectacle genres; the redefinition of the star system; the popularity of Walt Disney, the birth of the film-themed park, and the beginnings of conglomeration; the influence of Hollywood B-film production and the resurgence of interest in experimental film production; the impact on and the impact of European and Japanese cinemas.

Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will have an understanding of the various historical developments that affected film culture in the 1950s;
be able to evaluate the significance of an emerging 'darker' cinema characterized by gothic and noir sensibilities;
be able to critically examine the effect that economic and ideological forces can have on film aesthetics;
be able to account for the shifts that occurred in the cinema as a result of competition with other entertainment media forms;
be familiar with and able to utilise the most common methodologies used to analyse film texts from this period.

A 1500 word tutorial paper 40% (due during the semester), and a 2500 word essay 60% (due during the examination period). Students are advised to consult the following web address for details of assessment penalities which apply to this subject

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be skilled in critical thinking and analysis;

  • possess effective written communication skills;

  • have an understanding of social, ethical and cultural context.

Notes: This subject is available to students enrolled in the BA prior to 2008 at either 2nd or 3rd year level and can be credited to a major in either Cinema or Cultural Studies.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: American Studies Major
Cinema & Cultural Studies
Cinema Studies Major
Cinema and Cultural Studies
Cinema and Cultural Studies

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