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The Conscience of Hollywood: The Rise of Social Protest Cinema

Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st
616 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, OR 97209, US (map)



Oregon State University Film Studies Program presents
THE CONSCIENCE OF HOLLYWOOD: The Rise of Social Protest Cinema, 1932-1937

Six Week Course at Cinema 21. Every Saturday from January 20 - March 3 (except no class on Feb. 10) at 11 am at Cinema 21.

This six week survey of socially conscious cinema is taught by renowned film programmer and scholar, Elliot Lavine. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir. He has taught film studies courses for Stanford's Continuing Studies Program since 2006.

The course explores how the issues of poverty, political corruption, xenophobia and workers’ rights are depicted in the cinema of 1930s Hollywood and how it reflected the culture at large. In many ways, America in the 21st century bears a remarkable resemblance to the America of the 1930s: a polarized political climate rife with economic disparity, homelessness, a legal system riddled with corruption, ethnic targeting and immigration worries–all topics that resonate with an eerie similarity to the travails of today's uncertain world.

Hollywood in the 30s, in all its uncanny and prescient wisdom, was quick to respond to the social injustices it perceived with a stream of hard-hitting and uncompromising entertainments designed to ignite the passions and fuel the hopes of beleaguered movie-goers across the country. In this course, students will be presented with a vivid portrait of American political and social history as reflected by contemporary cinema of the day. Of equal importance, students will be exposed to a brilliant array of cinematic art which will hopefully broaden their appreciation for film from this classic period.

The six titles feature works from such notable directors as William Wellman and Melvyn LeRoy as well as stars like Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. Titles include:

  • I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932),
  • Heroes for Sale (1933),
  • Wild Boys of the Road (1933),
  • They Won’t Forget (1937),
  • Black Legion (1927) and
  • Marked Woman (1937).