Odyssey: The Golden Age of Screwball

When sound arrived in movies in 1927, it shook the nascent film industry to its core and threatened to overturn 30 years of artistic convention. Soon, however, the great California studios recovered, and Hollywood entered what has since been called its "Golden Age." As America suffered first through the Great Depression and then the Second World War, movies took people's minds off their troubles, and no kind of film did that better than the screwball comedy. We will discuss five classic comedies of the period, and examine how their legacy persists in the comedies of today: It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934); Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935); Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938); The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges); and To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942). Get ready for some timeless laughter!

Week 1: Nov. 2 Movie & Readings: It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) Ch. 6-7, 16
Week 2: Nov. 9 Movie & Readings: Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935) Ch. 9, 13, 15
Week 3: Nov. 16 Movie & Readings: Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) Ch. 4, 14, 21
Week 4: Nov. 23 Movie & Readings: The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941) Ch. 23-25
Week 5: Nov. 30 Movie & Readings: To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942) Ch. 18, 19, 22

It is preferred that you watch the movie for each class before that particular class, and do the recommended reading before the class, as well. In class each week, we will screen clips from the movie of that week, plus watch clips from related films, and discuss that particular film's place in the canon of screwball and romantic comedies.

Recommended Text:
Romantic Comedy In Hollywood: From Lubitsch to Sturges, by James Harvey (Knopf, 1987)

912.543.01 Homewood Campus $155 (5 sessions) Mondays, Nov. 2–30, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

JHU full-time faculty/staff are eligible for 80% tuition remission. Spouse/same-sex domestic partners are eligible for 50% remission. You will be unable to register online and receive the discount. For more information, contact 410-516-8516.