Teaching a film and literature course would involve a lot of decision-making. The most important decisions would be which film-literature combinations to show; and, in showing these, what would I be trying to teach my students? Looking back at what we have read and watched this semester, and what I have learned, I have a good idea of what I would choose.
The first book I would have the students read would be Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights. Aside from this being my favorite book, I enjoyed listening to the different reaction in class. Also, the 1939 movie, directed by William Wyler, that accompanies it is great because it is so off-base that it gives even the most critical reader an appreciation for the novel.
I would also choose Henry James's 1880 Washington Square. This book was also very good. I think that all the students got a lot out of it, even if they did not like it. The triumph of Catherine over her father and Morris leaves everyone rooting for her in the end. William Wyler's 1049 movie, The Heiress, furthers this empathy as she is seen walking slowly up the staircase in the end.
Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw would not be included in my lesson plans, however. Not only is it a difficult read, but also I believe that Jack Clayton's 1961 movie, The Innocents, is distracting in that it puts too much drama into the kisses between the governess, named Miss Giddens in the movie (Deborah Kerr) and Miles (Martin Stephens). The ghosts should not be on the average college-students' minds as they are thinking too much of what is really going on with the ghosts. This distraction is unnecessary and takes away from the point Henry James is making.
Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 Pygmalion and George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady are classics and should not be denied. I like the controversy involved with these two works. George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion was not written to be a love story, yet it is turned into such on stage and screen. It would be amusing to see which one the students prefer.
I would most definitely include the 1879 A Doll's House. Ibsen shows pure genius when he writes a play like this in a time when women would not even think of leaving their husbands. Both 1973 movies, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, would be shown because it would be fun to watch and then poke fun at Jane Fonda, then watch the real thing, with Claire Bloom.
Finally, Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire would be on my list. This play just attracts so many people. I do not even know what it is about this play, but the reality in it just jumps out at you. Marlon Brando does a terrific job of bringing Stanley to life on the screen in Elia Kazan's 1954 film. The students would enjoy this combination of play and movie.
The students can learn many lessons from these combinations. First of all, I would want my students to learn that not all movies follow the novel or play. I would also like them to see that not everyone will like every combination. There will be some disagreements, but that is okay.
This will teach them to not take someone's word on whether a movie is good or bad but to go out and experience it themselves.