Movie Review Assignment

1950s POSTER FOR 1938 SELZNICK FILM
Your Choices

  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938): Margaret
  • Tom Sawyer (1973): Barbara
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1986): Ben
  • Tom and Huck (1995): Alexandra
  • The Prince and the Surfer (1999): Steve
  • The Prince and The Pauper (2001): Sara
  • Life on the Mississippi (1980): Diana
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960): Melissa
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1993): Allison
  • Huck and the King of Hearts (1993): Max
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1996): Nicki
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949): Cyndi
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1952): Emily
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1989): Michelle
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1995): Sarah
  • Pudd'nhead Wilson (1983): Siobhain
  • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1980): Matthew
  • Adventures of Mark Twain (1944): Jack
  • Adventures of Mark Twain (1985): Willa

    Your assignment is to view the film, write a 500-600 word review|critique of it that you'll send to the rest of the class by Friday, February 26, and then in class on Monday or Wednesday of the following week (i.e. either March 1 or March 3), to briefly introduce your movie and play a 3-4 minute representative clip from it.

    Your review should begin by giving identifying your film, by title, date, studio (or made-for-TV), director and stars. The rest of your review should be a mix of summary/description, so that the rest of us (including me, I haven't seen many of these films either) will have a good basic idea of the story your film tells, and analysis. The analysis can certainly include how good your thought the adaptation was, but I'd like you to emphasize what you think your film, as a 20th century adaptation of either "Mark Twain" himself or one of his texts, can tell us about the ways subsequent generations of Americans have appropriated Twain. If you've read the original Twain text, for example, you could talk about what the film changes, omits or adds, and what those alterations might mean. What we're after, in other words, is what the story your film tells can tell us about the story we're studying all semester – the relationship between "Mark Twain" and American culture.

    Some specific suggestions (but only to get you thinking; there are lots of other good questions you should be asking yourself as you watch your film, and might want to discuss in your review for the rest of us):

  • For adaptations of Tom Sawyer: Is adaptation aimed at children? adults? both? Is tone nostalgic or adventurous? How does existence of slavery in St. Petersburg get expressed?
  • For adaptations of The Prince and the Pauper: How does film construct its Old World setting? or, if setting isn't in the Old World, how does moving the story to another society change its meaning? How does film divide up its narrative attention? i.e. is either prince or pauper the main character? or does each one's story get same amount of time? What is film saying about class rank and individual identity?
  • For adaptations of Huck Finn: Is Tom included? How is ending treated? Does film use that controversial word for blacks? How does it portray slavery? racism? Huck's own prejudices?
  • For adaptations of Connecticut Yankee: Is Hank depicted unambigiously as the good guy/hero? Does film raise any potentially ironic questions about the 19th century America that Hank comes from? How does film handle ending?

Schedule of Presentations (in 322A Clemons, Robertson Media Center)
Monday, March 1
Wednesday, March 3
Margaret
Diana
Barbara
Cyndi
Ben
Emily
Alexandra
Michelle
Steve
Sarah
Sara
Siobhain
Melissa
Matthew
Allison
Jack
Max
Willa
Nicki
[me]