Write an essay on one (1) of the following topics; consider appropriate course kit readings, class lectures
and your responses to the film. Be as precise as you can, using examples from the film to illustrate your
critical discussion. Focus on those basic elements that support your argument. Document your sources
carefully. You may use sources other than the course kit, but restrict them to books, journals or magazines
that are peer-viewed. Do not use blogs from the internet written by self-proclaimed critics.
1. Scarlet Street is a prime example of 1940s film noir. Using the J. A. Place & L. S. article, “Some Visual
Motifs of Film Noir” (course kit), briefly discuss the film’s conception. In addition, consider the film’s
narrative in relation to German Expressionist concerns such as the femme fatale, the doppelganger and
2. The Great Dictator ends with Charlie Chaplin’s plea to the viewer that fascism be confronted and
rejected. Considering the conventions of classical Hollywood cinema is this tactic successful, particularly so
given the extent he uses dark humor as a means of critiquing dictatorships?
3. Phyllis Dietrichson of Double Indemnity is often said to be one of the most calculating and hardened
femme fatales in classical Hollywood’s film noir. Is Walter Neff simply her victim? Consider the film uses the
convention of voice-over narration in its presentation of the Neff character.
4. Instead of claiming Meet Me in St. Louis celebrates America’s dominant ideologies of patriarchy,
capitalism and bourgeois values, Andrew Britton’s article, “Meet Me in St’ Louis: Smith, or The Ambiguities”
(course kit) argues that the film celebrates anarchy. Discuss. Consider both the film’s presentation of its
female characters and its contradictory attitude towards the nuclear family.
5. Using German Expressionism in Shadow of a Doubt, Alfred Hitchcock places emphasis on the
doppelganger in aligning Uncle Charlie (evil) and Young Charley (innocence). Do the two characters
maintain a distinct division as the narrative develops? Discuss.
6. Gene Tierney’s Laura is at the center of Otto Preminger’s Laura. Yet Waldo Lydecker and Mark
McPherson each construct an identity for her to suit themselves. Does Laura have an identity of her own?