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Flashcards in Genre Deck (52):

Thomas Schatz: pg. 692

•Genres emerges as multiple relationships the films have


Screwball Comedy

oHis girl Friday
oIt happened one night
oBringing up baby
oWomen on the verge of a breakdown


Howard Hawks

oHis girl Friday
oRio Bravo
oBringing Up Baby
oOnly Angels have Wings


Cary Grant

•His Girl Friday
oNorth by Northwest
oBringing Up Baby



•Think about relationship, similarities, continuity, overlap between these films



•Genre linked to systematized + standardized mode of production Hollywood used during Golden Age
•Ppl enjoyed similar themed movies but varied enough to maintain interest
•Hollywood created well established formulas + produced many films that followed formula



•Diff in films produced by film studios
•Certain studios became known to use certain genres
•Not confined to hollywood



grouping of films that filmmakers and film viewers, film financiers and film critics assume to possess some common set of characteristics.
•Share a deep structure
•We need a working definition already to analyze characteristics
•Which comes first: film genre or genre films


Andrew Tudor

“Genre is what we collectively believe it to be.”
•“to appeal to common set of meanings in our culture”
•common cultural consensus, form is adhering to genre
•constitution of genre depends on audience’s perception + recognition of those norms
•they help to build structure into a familiar + meaningful system by simply recognizing it + acknowledging it


Thomas Schatz

“Whereas the genre exists as a sort of tacit ‘contract’ between filmmakers and audience, the genre film is an actual event that honors such a contract” (691).


Tacit Contract

•Filmmaker: genre provides visual + narrative vocabulary
•Spectators: form expectations + make meaning while seeing film
•Financiers: readily recognizable identity + makes it easier to sell
•Critics: provides vocabulary + provides traditions in order to measure quality
•Speaks to conventions film will use strategically


recurring conventions: visual

certain props, settings costumes


recurring conventions: aural

Certain musics, sound effects, speech patterns


recurring conventions: technical

Certain lighting, casting choices


recurring conventions: Narrative

initial state of equilibrium-problem-new equilibrium
oSpecifics of narrative development
oVariation on equilibriums
oVariation in types of conflict
oVariation in solutions (violence, self determination, integration into community)
oVariation in types of characters


Types of recurring conventions: Thematic

experiences, values, social systems, beliefs being communicates
oKind of ideological work genre is doing
oAttempt to resolve some sort of conflict in the society that produces + consumes these genre films


Thomas Schatz: genres of determinate space

take place in a specific arena both geographically and symbolically
Western and the gangster film, are relatively easy to identify due to their distinctive and stable iconography


Thomas Schatz: genres of indeterminate space

“[depend] less on a heavily coded place than on a highly conventionalized value
system” (698)
musical and the screwball comedy, are generally more diverse in terms of their visual, aural, and technical conventions
•Narrative + thematic conventions are more at issue



•Visual – lone man with cowboy hat as he rides on a horse in the desert encountering a frontier setting
oMan is outside interacting with environment, Woman in house contained spatially + graphically
oGender division of labour: more concerned with masculinity
oGuns, Lone homestead, Landscape, Saloon
oNatural colours – concerned with nature



•technical conventions – long + else to show landscape of west as site of future expansion + possibilities
oshot at widescreen (academy ratio), shown at 1.66-1
oAdapted to developments in widescreen technology



•Aural – spurs (men on the move), slow talking, abrupt bursts of gunfire, nondiegetic music
•Contrast of slow speech + quick draw
•Men don’t talk too much, when they do it’s slow
•Narrative conventions – usually lone hero enters an arena, acts on arena: eradicates some threat to community, hero exits arena



oRestitution of social order: alleviates threat
omasculine identity: usually male hero, John Wayne – quick decisive action, determination, rugged individualization, skilled with guns
olaw of the gun: gun fight hero wins,
onature of honour: operates in accordance with internal code, knows sometimes necessary to use gun for good



•doctrine of manifest destiny: westward expansion as preordained
•Western relatively stable
•Great constancy of looks, sound, narrative, themes
•Genre of determinate space: takes place in specific arena both geographically + symbolically
•Frontier; geographical space, west in USA, boundary pushing itself further, civilization + savagery on either side



city streets, hats match suits
oCloser shot scales + camera set ups that give sense of containment
oWomen feature as mole (blonde, tough, sexy, loyal)
oQuick paced speech, rat a tat tat gun sounds
oRise + subsequent fall of criminal
oAmerican dream as illusion



oPursuit of success
oLoss of ideals
oRelationship betw law + outlaw
oScorcese + Francis Coppola
oBoardwalk empire



•Visual, aural, tech conventions: singing + dancing
•Narrative: overcoming obstacles to put on a show, find heterosexual romance, to create community
onumber – narrative development, repeat
onecessary for action that provide occasion for singing + dancing
olike Porn



omusical numbers don’t simply interrupt, rather they contribute toward its development in some way
•Thematic – social integration
oSelf expression, creative liberation + productive energy
oCapacity to transform for any situation



something broader
•Can’t be reduced to genre
•Genre has greater level of specifity


Screwball Comedy

physical comedy + fast-paced witty dialogue, a narrative battle of the sexes + eventual union + tendency to produce a vision of love + marriage predicated on companionability + play
•Conventions inform how they are made, how they are distributed + audiences’ expectations + experience
•Goal is to produce amusement + laughter: incongruity, deviation from social norm, exaggeration


Screwball Comedy

•Visual, aural, tech: witty banter, slapstick
•Narrative: two protagonists, man + woman, usually W has higher class status, diff from each other in some fundamental way
•Battle of sexes fuelled by animus + attraction
•Attraction wins out as couple enters into a union
•Thematic: social integration


Screwball Comedy

•Notions of companionability + play goes back to fast dialogue, displays couple as playful
•Role play: tries on diff identities, diff priorities + social values
•Can lead to transformations that lead to the new equilibrium
•Allows for disruption of status quo that can be productive


Generic Transformation

dynamic system, one that undergoes revision over the course of its lifespan
•Revision happens slowly + gradual changes in sensibilities of filmmakers + filmgoers
•Dynamic system: inevitably gonna change
•Can be multiple catalysts


Generic Transformation

in response to changes within the film industry, be they technical or industrial in nature, or changes within the sociocultural sphere at large


Western Change

•Technical: widescreen technology
•Theatres equiped with masks + right kind of screen could create widescreen effect
•Vista vision: Paramount 1.75:1
•Good, Bad, Ugly: 2.35:1 after 1959
•Tend to use widescreen as possible
•Incredible importance of the frontier, usually an ELS of landscape dominated by horizontal horizon line


Western Change

•Industrial changes: when we think of western, we think of hollywood westerns
•Supreme court ordered studios divest themselves on theatres which loosened hold on film
•By 1960 studio system has changed
•Westerns after were created in diff industrial context
•More personal + indiosyncratic projects


Western Change

•70s – used for more personal expression
•Kevin costner changed radically the racial politics
•Lots of foreign filmmakers simulate/relocate western
•Representation of american indians: native were villified
•Racist justification of colonialism
•More sympathetic representation of indian americans


sociocultural changes

tend to inspire the most large-scale generic transformation
•Response + reaction to sociocultural context
•More explicit + gratuitous images of violence
•Same time wars were televised, mass media provided verbal + visual accounts of violence
•Ppl in general more exposed to violence


genre films

•Genre films not noted for originality
•Posession of deep structure that other genre films share
•Tend to employ well worn conventions that ensure legibility + similarity to other texts
•Neglect of genre films: originally important part of masterwork in any medium


Mythic Nature of Genre Films

genre films allow a society to tell itself the same stories over and over again in an almost ritualistic function, they are like myths and thus provide insight into the values, concerns, and practices of the society at issue
• Variations in itirations


Claude Lévi-Strauss’s work on myth

means of recasting a complex cultural system or dilemma into more basic oppositional terms.
•Structure: binaristic, identify pairs of terms that formed a tension
•Purpose to resolve at least provisionaly conflict/social tensions: provide logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction
•Used to confront conflicts
•Oedipus myth
•Overvaluating family relations + devaluating familial relations


genre film

serves to resolve, even if temporarily or provisionally, the conflicts created by these opposing terms; as Thomas Schatz notes, when it does so the “genre film’s function as cultural ritual is most evident” (700)


Thomas Schatz

•Pg. 699 “the most significant feature of any generic narrative may be its resolution - its efforts to solve, even if temporarily, the conflicts that have disturbed the community welfare. It is the repeated assertion that these conflicts can be solved, seemingly timeless cultural oppositions can be resolved favourably for the larger community”
•Efforts to solve conflicts that disturb community welfare from seemingly timeless cultural oppositions


Thomas Schatz

•“Resolution occurs even if temporarily in a way that strokes the collective sensibilities of the mass audience. Film's function as cultural ritual most evident” (700)


Western: Mythic Terms

genre structured by the binary oppositions between individual and community, town and wilderness, and order and anarchy, among others


Screwball Binaries

social conflicts at issue
•Man/woman: battle of sexes, battle gives way to truce, diff not an impediment to their union, differences ensure that they are complementary
•Aversion/attraction: vasolates between wanting to stay + wanting to go, aversion makes attraction so strong, interplay
•Social norms/transgession: eccentric + even inappropriate, end in a pretty conventional way (formation of couple + live happily ever after), all transgressive behaviour gets compensated for by affirmation of social norms


Schatz: reconciles genre’s status as myth and its dynamic nature

“[E]ach genre has a static nucleus that manifests its thematic oppositions or recurring cultural conflicts. And each genre has, through the years, dynamically evolved as shown by the ways its individual films manipulate those oppositions. If we see genre as a problem-solving strategy, then, the static nucleus could be conceived as the problem and the variety of solutions (narrative resolutions) as its dynamic surface structure” (700)


Western Binaries/Conflicts



social conflicts

•Any given genre continues to attempt to solve the same social conflicts
•Understanding social politics/colonialism
•Feminism + multiculturalism
•What differs is how oppositional terms are resolved
•What kind of resolution is achieved in the face of social conflict


Celestino Deleyto: Dynamic

“Genres are not groups of films but, rather, abstract systems formed by elements taken from many films. The generic bag contains conventions, structures, and narrative patterns, but no films.”


Celestino Deleyto: Dynamic

•“most genre critics assume that they are working with set of stable, fixed terms even though genre are constantly changing, due to not only intrinsic evolution but also the specific interests of those who create them: producers, studios, directors and critics themselves” (225)
•individual film genres way more complex + chaotic that even Schatz allows


Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar. Spain, 1988)

•Almedovar: nothing pure about his work – draws on multiple sources, bears the traces of lots of influences (Hollywood cinema)
•Influenced by international art film tradition – intertextual references
•Queer aesthetics
•Influenced by spanish culture
•When he was born, it was a dictatorship
•After dictator died, explosion of activity as ppl started to do things that ppl couldn’t do before


Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar. Spain, 1988)

•Contemporary Melodrama:
•Woman’s film – female protagonist, broach stereotypical women concerns, targeted toward female audiences
•Nature of love + desire, family responsibilities, nuances of human psychology, heterosexual + family relations, involve suffering, usually end in resignation + compromise
•Weepies: ending ends in a puddle of tears