All people have different types of book, movies, music, and art that they enjoy. A film and literature class just focuses on the literary and movie aspect of our tastes. Each person is unique and no one's likes and dislikes are wrong. Older movies and books will always have their place as classics. However, there are several book and movie combinations that could be added to a college curriculum to enhance learning. Today's college students are eager and more outgoing than ever before. restricting the learning experience to only "classic" works could inhibit their learning about the books and films that will soon become the new classics.
As for older and more "classic" works, there are several that I feel should definitely be included. Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are wonderful works with corresponding movies that are also wonderful. Pygmalion, a 1913 play by George Bernard Shaw, was brought to the big screen in 1938 by directors Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. This black-and-white film depicts an eccentric professor, Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard), and a wonderful Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller). These characters play off each other very well and make the play come to life to show the struggle between lovers and between master and servant. The play My Fair Lady, a 1956 musical adaptation of Pygmalion, by Frederick Loewe and Alan Lerner, became one of the best movies of all time when it was adapted to film in 1964 by George Cukor. In the film version, Rex Harrison portrays Henry Higgins, and Audrey Hepburn portrays Eliza Doolittle.
Another play that should be included is A Doll's House, written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen. The play can become somewhat controversial when audiences try to decide if Nora Helmer should leave her husband, Torvald. However, there are two screen versions which can help sort out the mess. First, there is the 1973 version directed by Joseph Losey with David Warner and Jane Fonda as Torvald and Nora, respectively. Secondly, there is a 1973 version directed by Patrick Garland with Anthony Hopkins and Claire Bloom portraying the tragic duo. Both films are very strong, but the first has Nora (Jane Fonda) as the person that makes the correct decision, but the other has one pulling for Torvald (Anthony Hopkins). Any film and literature class can debate and decide which is correct.
These "older classics" are probably the only movie and book combinations I would teach. Books, plays, and films such as Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Brontë in 1847 and filmed in 1939 by William Wyler; Washington Square, written by Henry James in 1888 and filmed in 1949 by William Wyler as The Heiress; The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James in 1898 and filmed in 1961 by Jack Clayton as The Innocents; and A Streetcar Named Desire, written for the stage in 1947 by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, I would leave to high school reading teachers. I would like to begin to bring students into the "new classics" with wonderful books and movies.
The first book and movie combination I would add would be Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling. This book has exceeded everyone's expectations. A so-called children's book, it has an adult following while also being adored by children. The movie, directed by Chris Columbus, follows the book closely. Instead of bringing his version of the story to life, Columbus used Rowling as a source and, with amazing casting, made an amazing movie. Columbus also directed the film adaptation of the sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Again he made Rowling's book come to life on the big screen. Both books, especially the first, would be a perfect addition to any film and literature class.
The last book and movie combination I would use would have to be The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. One or all three parts of this trilogy should be used, preferably all three. These books are difficult to read; but when used in conjunction with the films, everyone should be able to understand them, especially college-level students.
With all of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady, and A Doll's House, students would be kept very busy. I hope, however, it would be enjoyable, challenging, and fun for everyone. These books and films may challenge some but should be suitable for college students.