I – Film Seminar: Screwball Comedies

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  • Week 1
     April 8, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Week 2
     April 15, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Week 3
     April 22, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Week 4
     April 29, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Week 5
     May 6, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Week 6
     May 13, 2022
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Fridays,  10 AM – Noon | April 8 – May 13

     Leaders:  Don Melander and Mary Lee Sargent

According to film historian, Monty Arnold, screwball comedies serve two human needs — escape and enjoyment. Their defining characteristics are farce, slapstick, romance, and witty and sophisticated dialog.  During the 1930’s and 40’s masters of this comedy style — Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch, Howard Hawks and others — created dozens of films that are pure examples of the screwball genre. 

For this term, we escape and enjoy these classic comedies.  They should be viewed before the class, all of which are available on Amazon.

It Happened One Night (1934) Frank Capra

The Thin Man (1934) W.S. Van Dyke

My Man Godfrey (1936) Gregory La Cava

Bringing Up Baby (1938) Howard Hawks

Ninotchka (1939) Ernst Lubitsch

Ball of Fire (1941) Hawks

The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges

Sullivan’s Travels (1941) Sturges

The Palm Beach Story (1942) Sturges

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) Sturges

Don Melander often makes reference to films in his teaching of literature.  Since 2010 he has also taught a Communications course on movies and film directors.  Although he has no formal training in film, he has been ‘reading’ serious films as serious literature since 1958.

Mary Lee Sargent has been a cinéphile since she was five years old and saw the first film that she can remember — Disney’s “Dumbo.” As a teenager, afternoons spent ironing in front of the daily 3 PM movie introduced her to the classic films of the 30’s and 40’s including the great screwball comedies. Sargent taught history at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois for 35 years and was an adjunct instructor at several New Hampshire colleges and universities.


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