English 5070

Topics in Film: Hollywood Actors

Fall 2018
Monday & Wednesday, 2:30 - 5:00 pm
State 326

Web address for this page:

Steven Shaviro
(shaviro@shaviro.com or shaviro@wayne.edu)
5057 Woodward, Room 9309
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm, and by appointment

Acting is one of the most important aspects of Hollywood narrative film. But in film studies in general, acting and stardom don’t get as much attention as such things as directors, genres, and editing and cinematography. This class will look at Hollywood acting, combining star studies and acting studies with a close look at the careers of a number of Hollywood stars, from the coming of sound to the present. We will try to define the personas and range of particular actors, as well as to answer the question of how movie acting differs from stage acting and from television acting. We will look in detail at the careers of six Hollywood movie stars, one male and one female actor each from three periods in the history of film:


There will be three short papers (approximately 1000 words each), due as follows:

For each of these papers, you must discuss at least one film starring the actor in question that we have not watched in class, in relation to the films we have seen and discussed.

In addition, students in small groups are expected to help lead discussion at least once in the course of the semester. We will schedule these during the first class meeting.

Some of the movies we are watching are quite long, and class time is limited. In several cases, you will be asked to watch the films on your own ahead of time; during class, we will only watch excerpts to help cue the discussion.


By the end of the course, successful students will have learned about a number of major Hollywood movie stars, about how Hollywood acting styles have changed over the years since the introduction of sound, and about how movie stardom works more generally.

In addition, by the end of the course successful students should be able to:


August 29

September 5
Barbara Stanwyck, Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933)

September 10
Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)

September 12
Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

September 17
Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

September 19
Barbara Stanwyck, Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller, 1957)

September 24
Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

September 26
Cary Grant, Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939)

October 1
Cary Grant, Penny Serenade (George Stevens, 1941)

October 3
Cary Grant, Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)

October 8
Cary Grant, North By Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

October 10
Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

October 15
Robert De Niro, Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

October 17
Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982)

October 22
Robert De Niro, Flawless (Joel Schumacher, 1999)

October 24
Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)

October 29
Faye Dunaway, Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

October 31
Faye Dunaway, Three Days of the Condor (Sydney Pollack, 1975)

November 5
Faye Dunaway, Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

November 7
Faye Dunaway, Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry, 1981)

November 12
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010)

November 14
Ryan Gosling, Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)

November 19
Ryan Gosling, La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)

November 26
Ryan Gosling, Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villaneuve, 2017)

November 28
Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003)

December 3
Scarlett Johansson, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

December 5
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

December 10
Scarlett Johansson, Lucy (Luc Besson, 2014)

Grade Appeals:
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences stipulates that course grade appeals must be initiated within 30 days from the time the grade is posted. The English Grade Appeal Form can be obtained at the English Main Office on the 9th Floor of 5057 Woodward or by emailing Royanne Smith at ad2073@wayne.edu. More information on this process, including the limited grounds for appeal, can be found at http://clasweb.clas.wayne.edu/Multimedia/CLAS/files/Students/Grade_Appeal_process.pdf.

Plagiarism is a very serious matter and should be recognized as such. The University has a very strict policy on plagiarism. Always refer to your sources when quoting, paraphrasing, or using the ideas ofother writers. When paraphrasing, place in quotes any phrase of four words or more that comes directly from the source being used.