Mr. Monaghan – Room 403





    Film Literature is a rigorous class for students who view films as something beyond mere entertainment. Many (myself included) feel that good film is THE major art form of this and the past century and there have been stellar examples from each decade.



    Among the films we will view in class and discuss this term:

    Short films from the package THE MOVIES BEGIN including classic firsts by Thomas Edison, Georges Melies, Edwin S. Porter, the Lumiere Brothers and D.W. Griffith, experimental shorts from Europe and the U.S., plus short films by BUSTER KEATON and CHARLIE CHAPLIN. We will also be watching many of the following:

    THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. Wes Anderson ensemble comedy about an eccentric New York City family reunited when the estranged patriarch says he’s dying. We use this film to study mise en scene. Another Anderson film will likely be required viewing outside of class.

    HAROLD AND MAUDE. Dark comedy about cross-generational romance by director Hal Ashby.

    SINGIN IN THE RAIN.  Technicolor musical about the beginnings of sound films, featuring Gene Kelly.

    Two films by Hitchcock: REAR WINDOW and PSYCHO plus one watched outside of class.

    CITIZEN KANE. Orson Welles as newspaper tycoon. Greatest movie ever?

    FILM NOIR. An example of the 1940s/1950s crime and detective moviemaking style.


    A documentary: recent examples include SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP  

    Plus segments from the excellent PBS series THE AMERICAN CINEMA
    I will send home a permission slip for any R-rated film we watch in class this semester.



    Each quarter, you will need 200 points of outside viewing with approved titles from the OUTSIDE VIEWING BOARD. These are mostly new films that I have (mostly) seen and will add something to our understanding of film art. Many will have links to what we’re watching in class.


    Many of these will require a trip to theaters in Detroit or nearby suburbs (sometimes Ann Arbor). I will also show occasional (maybe once a semester) films in the South High auditorium. For the transportationally challenged, I have a small personal library of films that you can check out to fulfill this requirement. I will also alert you to important screenings on cable channel TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and others you can catch on video.


    For each film viewed, you must write an essay based on prompts I have posted on the OUTSIDE VIEWING board. These are usually due about a week before the end of the quarter. YOU MUST ALSO ATTACH A TICKET STUB FOR MOVIES SEEN IN THEATERS.


    25 points:
    Films on DVD, on computer or through Netflix. See list of MONAGHAN FAVORITE FILMS. More points may be earned for these titles with extra work, research, comparison to other films, etc.


    50 points: Any movie viewed at these local art houses (SAVE YOUR TICKET STUBS)


    This is the popular weekend film program at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with movies screening Fridays through Sundays (plus occasional Thursdays)


    These are the Detroit area’s most popular art houses, where most of the strongest art, independent and foreign films screen.

    THE REDFORD and CINEMA DETROIT  The Redford Theatre – a historic neighborhood theater in the Old Redford section of Detroit (Lahser at Grand River) – offers classic films in an old movie house setting (plus cheap refreshments) every other weekend. Cinema Detroit is now located at Third St. near Willis in Midtown. They show independent films nightly.
    THE PATRIOT THEATRE in the WAR MEMORIAL is also showing decent titles of late. Grosse Pointe Park residents can also take advantage of the two screens located in the community center.


    Each year, students make their own films – either documentary or narrative. I will show you several examples from semesters past. You can work alone or with a partner to create this film. You will need to submit a prospectus of what you are doing so we can discuss. You will have at least a month to complete this film. Like last year, there will be a film festival in late May, so all work must be appropriate for student viewing.



    Your grade will be determined on how many points you earn. Typical requirements for class include:



    There is no textbook for this class. However, there will be assigned readings from Xeroxed materials. These include articles, essays and even short stories on which some films are based.


    Note Taking

    You will need a three-ring binder with pen or pencil for class tomorrow and every day thereafter. Notes will be taken on an almost daily basis and checked for a grade twice a quarter. I will give you Xeroxed photos for each film which you will glue in neatly. We are in effect creating our own textbooks that you can take with you once class is over.



    Expect notebook tests to follow the viewing of every film. Most are worth 40 points and require four full-page responses. There will also be a major HITCHCOCK paper due in the second quarter – typed and double spaced. There will also be occasional tests, including the second-quarter CITIZEN KANE test that makes up a large percentage of the second quarter grade.


    Class Discussion

    Regular class discussion will be based on the films we view together. I consider this an important part of the class. We will begin class each Monday with a discussion of what you have seen over the past week with a focus on how they do or don't fit the ART FILM web in student notebooks. I want this class to be a discussion not a lecture. Please come ready to share.




    A major no-no in this class is talking over me or someone else who has “the floor.”

    Another is working on other class work while you are in this room – especially during a film

    Wear YOUR lanyard or risk being sent to office for another.

    NO TEXTING! Do so and you will find your device confiscated.

    Don’t even think about falling asleep.

    The door closes at the bell. Save yourself some embarrassment (and a call home) and come to class on time.

    If you need to leave the room, a pass in front of the room is available for your use. I do not allow more than one person out of the room at a given time.