Film studies: Short Visual Analysis

Film studies: Short Visual Analysis

Film 3420 H Film studies Short Visual Analysis: The Crime Film

Film 3420 H Film studies Short Visual Analysis: The Crime Film

Film 3420 H Film studies

Short Visual Analysis: The Crime Film

Short Visual Analysis (25% of Final Grade)


This assignment is designed to test your ability to describe and interpret film narrative. You will be shown a scene from the film, Out of the Past (1947). Your task will be to give a description of the scene by breaking it down into its component parts, and then to speculate on its possible meanings.

The clip entitled, Out of the Past, can be found at this location on YouTube:

The assignment asks you to consider the scene in isolation from the rest of the film. You may watch the entire film if you wish, but you will be graded on the precision with which you are able to describe the sequence and the quality of your ideas about its possible meanings.

Your task, then, is twofold: 1) to describe what you see as clearly as possible (you do not need to use filmic terms); and 2) to explain what it might mean (literally, thematically and symbolically).

You should write the assignment in essay form, but should think of it as having two parts. The first part of the assignment involves a shot-by-shot breakdown of the scene. The second part asks you to provide several possible interpretations of the meaning of the scene. A topic statement is required. A thesis statement is not.

This assignment requires you to analyze the sequence yourself. Using internet or other sources will result in substantial deductions to your grade.

Your assignment should be typed and double-spaced. It should be about 1500 words in length (6 pages). It should be sent to me before 10pm on July 13, 2020.

 Late assignments will have 5% deducted for each day late, including weekends.


Required Textbooks and Other Readings

1) Rafter, Nicole. Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society. (Second Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

2) Silver, Alain and Ursini, James. Gangster Film Reader. Pompton Plains, NJ: Limelight Editions, 2007.


Marking Scheme     Sequence Analysis     (July 13)                      25%

Essay                           (July 27)                      50%

Take Home Test         (August 10)                25%

Course Description:

This course explores the history of the crime film and its various genres.  Emphasis will be placed on its genesis in the American early sound cinema (Pre-Production Code and Post-Code films), and its development in film noir. The second half of the course will examine contemporary developments by looking at a number of foreign crime films and their influence on American crime films and television programs.

Notes:  1. All information in this course outline is tentative and subject to change. Please pay attention in class to for announcements regarding any changes to the course schedule of topics, readings and screenings.

  1. Enrollment. Only students officially enrolled in this course will have their exams graded. Students are responsible for checking with the registrar’s office to ensure that they are properly enrolled. No petitions will be accepted for students who do not follow these instructions.
  2. Late Essays: A Late essay will have 5% deducted for each day it is late.

Note: This course is usually offered with classroom instruction and screenings. This is not possible during the COVID-19 crisis. You will be given the written lectures on the dates indicated below. You have the responsibility to find the films online (You Tube, Google video, and York University’s online film collection). Watch the films on or around the dates indicated below and do the required readings for the two course textbooks. Assignment instructions will be provided on the moodle site.

 The Crime Film Lecture Schedule Summer 2020

June 29                      ….

August 10       TAKE HOME TEST DUE



For online course outlines, simply include the following statement and weblink.  If paper copies of the course outline are distributed, a copy of this information should be appended to the course outline in place of this statement.

All students are expected to familiarize themselves with the following information, available on the Senate Committee on Curriculum & Academic Standards webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents)

  • York’s Academic Honesty Policy and Procedures/Academic Integrity Website
  • Ethics Review Process for research involving human participants
  • Course requirement accommodation for students with disabilities, including physical, medical, systemic, learning and psychiatric disabilities
  • Student Conduct Standards
  • Religious Observance Accommodation

Academic Honesty and Integrity          

York students are required to maintain high standards of academic integrity and are subject to the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty (

There is also an academic integrity website with complete information about academic honesty. Students are expected to review the materials on the Academic Integrity website (


York provides services for students with disabilities (including physical, medical, learning and psychiatric disabilities) needing accommodation related to teaching and evaluation methods/materials.

It is the student’s responsibility to register with disability services as early as possible to ensure that appropriate academic accommodation can be provided with advance notice. You are encouraged to schedule a time early in the term to meet with each professor to discuss your accommodation needs. Failure to make these arrangements may jeopardize your opportunity to receive academic accommodations.

Additional information is available at or from disability service providers:

  • Office for Persons with Disabilities: N108 Ross, 416-736-5140,
  • Learning and Psychiatric Disabilities Programs – Counselling & Development Centre: 130 BSB, 416-736-5297,
  • Atkinson students – Atkinson Counselling & Supervision Centre: 114 Atkinson, 416-736- 5225,
  • Glendon students – Glendon Counselling & Career Centre: Glendon Hall 111, 416-487- 6709,

 Ethics Review Process           

York students are subject to the York University Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. In particular, students proposing to undertake research involving human participants (e.g., interviewing the director of a company or government agency, having students complete a questionnaire, etc.) are required to submit an Application for Ethical Approval of Research Involving Human Participants at least one month before you plan to begin the research.  If you are in doubt as to whether this requirement applies to you, contact your Course Director immediately

Religious Observance Accommodation

York University is committed to respecting the religious beliefs and practices of all members of the community, and making accommodations for observances of special significance to adherents.  Should any of the dates specified in this syllabus for an in-class test or examination pose such a conflict for you, contact the Course Director within the first three weeks of class.  Similarly, should an assignment to be completed in a lab, practicum placement, workshop, etc., scheduled later in the term pose such a conflict, contact the Course director immediately.  Please note that to arrange an alternative date or time for an examination scheduled in the formal examination periods (December and April/May), students must complete an Examination Accommodation Form, which can be obtained from Student Client Services, Student Services Centre or online at

 Student Conduct             

Students and instructors are expected to maintain a professional relationship characterized by courtesy and mutual respect and to refrain from actions disruptive to such a relationship.  Moreover, it is the responsibility of the instructor to maintain an appropriate academic atmosphere in the classroom, and the responsibility of the student to cooperate in that endeavour.  Further, the instructor is the best person to decide, in the first instance, whether such an atmosphere is present in the class.  A statement of the policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on the York website


Please note that this information is subject to periodic update.  For the most current information, please go to the CCAS webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents):