Dr. Jim Ford                                                                                Honors Cinema

jford@rsu.edu                                                                             HUM-2893H

Office: Health Sciences 244                                                        Spring 2010           

Office Phone: (918) 343-7749                                                    R 2:00-4:30 pm

Office Hours: 11-2 TW; 11-1 R;                                                 Classroom: LH 112

10-12 F; and by appointment.                                                     No prerequisites.








“Introduction to the basics of motion pictures, film theory, history, and appreciation” (RSU Bulletin 2009-10, p. 170).




What makes a great film? Roger Ebert cites the British critic Derek Malcolm’s definition that a great movie is “any movie he could not bear the thought of never seeing again” (The Great Movies II, p. xiv). Howard Hawks once said that a great movie is “three great scenes and no bad ones” (or “three good scenes and no bad ones,” depending on who is repeating the line). In this course we will consider what makes a film great. This begins with an introduction to and an overview of American film history. Students will recognize and appreciate some of the greatest American films of all time. We will analyze the role of various elements in a film’s success, from stars and story to the director and cinematography. At the same time, we will discuss the possibilities of film criticism. What makes a review compelling? What distinguishes great writing about the movies from mere opinion? What is the difference between merely liking a movie and deciding that a movie is truly great?


By the end of the course, all students will:

·         Recognize and appreciate various historically significant American movies

·         Analyze key elements of film

·         Distinguish central concepts in film theory

·         Evidence an appreciation for American cinema



Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White

The Film Experience: An Introduction

Bedford St. Martin’s



Roger Ebert

The Great Movies




Gail Kinn, Jim Piazza

The Greatest Movies Ever

Black Dog & Leventhal



Available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore. Please have all the books before the class begins.

GRADING SCALE                 90-100 A              

                                                   80-89 B 

                                                   70-79 C 

                                                   60-69 D




This course will emphasize discussion, viewing and writing. Most class sessions will consist of the screening of a film (or scenes from multiple films), followed by class discussion. Students are responsible for reading the assigned material before class as well as completing various writing assignments about film.  

Students will complete two essays, a film journal, and a final exam. Each essay is worth 10% of your final grade. All essays must be typed and double-spaced. Unexcused late work will be penalized 20% per day. All essays are due at the beginning of the class period. The film journal is worth 25% of your grade. While it is not due until the final exam, it will be checked at various times during the semester.  Further details on the nature of these essays, the film journal, and the final exam will be given in class.




Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:

Papers                                      20% (each paper=10%)

Exams                                     25%

Participation                            30%

Film Journal                            25%


All student work will be judged according to the following academic criteria:




            As discussion is a major portion of your grade (30%) as well as the heart of this class, your attendance is required. More than one unexcused absences will adversely affect your grade; two or more unexcused absences are grounds for failure of the course as a whole. Only serious illness, family crises, or official functions will count as excusable absences or extensions. In any event, students will be responsible for obtaining and viewing any films watched in the class sessions missed.




Students are expected to follow university policies as put forth in the institution’s Student Code of Responsibilities and Conduct. In accordance with Title 12 of The Student Code (page 11), instances of alleged academic misconduct will follow the policies and procedures as described in Title 12. As a general rule, Faculty at Rogers State University have the responsibility of enforcing the academic code. Therefore, if academic misconduct is suspected I will submit a letter of alleged academic misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs.


Note especially RSU’s official plagiarism statement:Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted, e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge.”Deliberate plagiarism and/or other forms of cheating are grounds for failure in the course as a whole.




In order to maintain an effective learning environment, students are expected to fully comply with The Student Code. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of each student to read and become familiar with the policies of The Student Code.




Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services.  Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended.  Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs.




My office hours are listed above. Please feel free to come by, call, etc., during those hours. If that doesn’t work, I would be happy to schedule an appointment at another time. Communication by email is especially welcome (moderation in this, as in all things...).


Finally, realize that it is not unusual for a course like this one involve troubling or disturbing material. Sometimes, in fact, the point of a scene (if not an entire film) may be to disturb or offend the audience. Be aware that many of these movies involve adult material, and are not suitable for anyone under 17. Please be prepared to view and discuss such materials in a responsible matter. If something from the class does bother or offends you, let me know and I will do what I can.