Gangster Films

Three films in particular. The Public Enemy, Scarface, Little Caesar

The purpose of a research paper is, believe it or not, to
express your creative ideas.  The “research” refers to the work
you do to support your ideas.  With film history, we’re often
tempted to write “about” a group of films or a director, but
those papers always end up as lists of factoids about your
subject.  Those papers are reports, not research.
1. 2500 words (approx. 8-10 pages).
2. Follow MLA or APA style guide (be sure to underline or italicize film titles. 25 points deducted instantly for improper title format). For help, see the style guides on the English Dept.’s web page (you can find it by clicking on Academics on the ODU Home page).
3. Cite a minimum of two academic sources (citing the course textbook DOES NOT count as your research).
4. The paper is due on or before April 22—because you get sick or something happens in your life on April 21 and you don’t have the paper done, does not mean you are excused from the due date. Please do not put off the paper until the last minute.
1.  Select an international film movement or filmmaker.
A.  Be sure you can identify the beginning and end of your
movement (e.g., German mountain climbing films of the late
1920s, Japanese monsters of the 1950s, etc.).
B.  If you select a person, be sure they have made a major
contribution (5+ movies).
2.  Research the historical significance of your movement,
filmmaker, or film.
A. Read at least two (2) academic articles on your subject (see ODU’s library for journals and online databases).
B. Definition of academic source:
1.  From an academic publisher (not popular/commercial
2.  Peer review process evident.
3.  Emphasis on research, not opinion.
C.  Where to find academic sources:
1.  ODU Library!
1.  The library has many journals on the shelf,
with back issues dating back many years.

2. Examples: Film Comment, Film Criticism, Film & History, Film History, and those are just some of the ones I found listed under “film.”
3. You’ll also find journals listed in “cinema.” 4. Use the library’s search feature, because you’ll also find articles in journals interested in your area that will have some film interests.
a. For example, I found articles about Charlie Kaufman in the Journal of Religion. b. Certain areas are always interested in their representation on film (race, creed, countries).
D.  Warnings about sources:
1.  NO WIKIPEDIA reference allowed (no editorial
2.  NO IMDB as reference.
a.  Not substantive research.
b.  Only good for dates and names.
3.  Wikipedia and IMDB are ok for looking up dates or
cast lists, but they do not provide any academic
research material.
4.  You don’t need to reference/cite movie dates or
cast lists.
5.  Stay away from “online encyclopedias.”
6.  Finding “sources” online that you’re not even sure
you can define will work against your project
(i.e., show that you’re slapping the paper
together at the last minute).
3.  Identify the major, or most influential, aspects of the
4.  If a filmmaker, identify the major aspects of their career—
that is, what makes them such an important filmmaker.
5.  You should break your topic down to 3 or 4 major points.
1.  For example: The three great historical periods of the
German cinema.
2.  For example: Three reasons why Akira Kurosawa is one of
the all-time great directors.
3. The three important influences of Metropolis on modern
6.  Advice:  Check topic with professor before launching into
writing and research.
7.  More advice:  Select a topic that benefits some other aspect
of your life or career goals (maybe you’re thinking about grad
we will examine        ,        , and
Follow the MLA style guide (APA also accepted, as is
Turabian/Chicago).  A sample paper has been posted on the
Blackboard site for your reference.  For a student research
paper, MLA means a few specific things:
1.  Format of movie titles (along with book, TV show,
album, etc. titles).
2.  Proper in-text citation (author and p. #)—do not use
3. A properly formatted Works Cited page.
4. Also, list the date of the movie in your paper after its first mention—such as Metropolis (1927). You only need to do this the first time—other mentions of Metropolis in the text will not need a date. You do not need to indicate the date every time you mention the movie title.
1.  Introduce the movement/filmmaker/film in a way that gets the
reader interested in your topic.  In some ways, papers are like
mystery stories, and we want to know that we will learn
something unexpected, but the crime will also be solved.
2. Explain why the movement/filmmaker/film is important.  It’s
ok for this to be both professional and personal.  Basically,
you introduce the subject and suggest there is a problem and
your “significance” establishes how you intend to solve the
3. Introduction:  Set up your 3-5 major points.
A.  Clearly indicate the 3 main points.
1.  Example:  To understand the historical importance
B.  Explain why you selected these major points.
C.  How will they help us (your reader) learn more about
the subject?
4.  Main point one.
A.  Example.
B.  Explanation of the example.
C.  Decode/define the example for us.
D.  Possibly cite source as part of explanation.
5.  Main point two.
A.  Example.
B.  Explanation of the example.
C.  Decode/define the example for us.
D.  Possibly cite source as part of explanation.

6.  Main point three.
A.  Example.
B.  Explanation of the example.
C.  Decode/define the example for us.
D.  Possibly cite source as part of explanation.
7.  Conclusion.
A.  Review your main points.
B.  Point out consistencies or recurring themes.
C.  Summarize, that is reveal the mystery, of why your
movement/filmmaker/film is so awesome.  In other words, you
add up for us what main points 1-3 were supposed to show
us.  These kind of points may include (but are not limited
1.  A movement of films influences movies made today—
and having read your paper, we can identify those
2.  A filmmaker created a unified vision of recurrent
themes (you would, of course identify those themes),
which makes them a great filmmaker.
3. A movie like The Searchers influenced many modern filmmakers and we can see the evidence of it today in films such as . . .
1.  1/3 of the points for writing.
A.  Writing style (spelling, grammar, format, etc.).
B.  Clarity (watch out for cliches and generalizations).
1.  Meaningless adverbs like “obviously” and
2.  Make a point, give an example, and back it up.
Don’t ramble!
C.  Appropriate language (never begin a sentence with
“Well” or “Ok”).
D.  Plagiarism.
1.  Cite sources appropriately (consult MLA/APA style
2.  Do not copy another student’s work.
2.  1/3 of the points for content.
A.  Movement/filmmaker/film identified.
B.  Significance clearly identified.
C.  Organization of the paper is apparent and easy to
D.  Main points supported with examples.
3.  1/3 of the points for research.
A.  Senior level materials (do your sources support your
claim or are you simply writing a report???).
B.  Bad sources:  TV Guide, dictionaries, most web sites.
C.  Good sources:  journal articles and analytical books.
D.  Interesting conclusions (do not state the obvious).


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