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April 1994


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Robert Withers <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 18 Apr 1994 18:29:09 EDT
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On Mon, 18 Apr 1994 14:31:53 CST Ralph Drexler, BHC F/S said:
>I'm considering a text change in my one-semester course "History and
>Appreciation of the Motion Picture". . . .  I've been using Bohm
>& Stromgren's LIGHT AND SHADOWS (Mayfield, 1987, 3rd ed.).  Seven
>years have passed; the oft-promised 4th edition isn't even considered
>at this point.
>Anyway. . . .  Anyone out there have a text recommendation with a
>history and development focus??  NOTE:  I have copies of Cook's A
>HISTORY OF NARRATIVE FILM (Norton, 1990, 2nd ed.) [Has anyone out
>there used it?  With what result?] and Thompson & Bordwell's FILM
>HISTORY: AN INTRODUCTION (McGraw-Hill, 1st ed., 1994)  My decision
>date is May 1st.    Thanks :-)   Ralph D.
      A good text should challenge but not overwhelm your students, so much
depends on the demographics of your student population.  At one institution
most of my students found Cook overwhelming (and there are those endless
lists of names and dates).  The book that worked with them was "Flashback:
A Brief History of Film" by Louis Giannetti and Scott Eyman.  (Prentice-Hall)
The better students then went to Cook and Gerald Mast: "A Short History of
the Movies" (Macmillan).  But I haven't found a film text with the pluses of
Bohn and Stromgren: the quotes of contemporary reactions to the films, and the
emphasis on economic and film industry influences.
     For introductory film studies classes, I've had good results with
Giannetti's "Understanding Movies," which is repeatedly updated, with
stills from contemporary films, and terrific captions for all stills.
There's history in it, but it doesn't follow a chronological structure.  When
I use it for an introductory film studies course I start in the middle, with
"Story", and eventually work back to the beginning chapters on camera, editing,
sound, etc.  The book works well with different levels of student interest and
                                        Robert Withers