Film & Society Series

Episode #12: The Politics of Screenwriting

Max Alvarez investigates the Hollywood blacklist years when screenwriters were among those targeted for their political beliefs. During the late '50s, Academy Awards voters repeatedly nominated or awarded Oscars to writers forced to work underground.

Episode #11: When Cinematographers Got Respect

In this episode, Max Alvarez examines some of the great director-cinematographer teams in movie history: Bergman & Nykvist, Griffith & Bitzer, Bertolucci & Storaro, and other brilliant collaborators who redefined the language and poetry of cinema.

Episode #10: Unrated Director's Cut

Max Alvarez discusses the so-called "director's cut" versions of motion pictures, which may differ radically from theatrical release versions. Although longer versions of current releases are now available for home entertainment, some of the truly great director's cuts from history are lost to us forever.

Episode #9: Hollywood Before the Code

This colorful Max Alvarez episode celebrates the racy, edgy Hollywood films of the early 1930s, before the enforcement of the film censorship code. Populated with gangsters, fallen women, hedonists, and Prohibition era merrymakers, these "pre-code" movies offer amazing insight into the America of The Great Depression years.

Episode #8: Vampires on Film

The evolution of the vampire movie, from "Nosferatu" and "Dracula" to "Blade" and "Underworld," is given a full coroner’s report by Max Alvarez. Whether serving as a political metaphor or catering to sexual fantasies, the vampire legend has maintained a strong power over cinema since the 1920s.

Episode #7: The Dark World of Film Noir

Max Alvarez investigates the suspense-filled world of film noir, the dark, brooding genre of Hollywood crime thrillers made during the 1940s and 1950s. Usually filmed in black-and-white, these tough melodramas were populated with dysfunctional anti-heroes and shady characters with questionable pasts and dark secrets.

Episode #6: Ingmar Bergman Mania

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was surprisingly popular in the US during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. This filmmaker known for his dark human dramas received both Academy Award recognition and even, as Max Alvarez points out, occasional financial support from Hollywood studios.

Episode #4: Woody Directs Mia

Max Alvarez puts the strange and disturbing 13-film collaboration between writer/director Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow on the analyst’s couch. This tumultuous ten-year association resulted in some psychologically troubling films with bizarrely recurrent themes.

Episode #3: The Billy Wilder Curse

Follow Max Alvarez as he takes you on a brief journey through the troubled later films of director Billy Wilder. A steady stream of important actors met with bad luck during production of Wilder's 1960s films--from fatal and near-fatal heart attacks to fatal and near-fatal overdoses.

Episode #2: Scorsese Directs De Niro

Film Scholar Max Alvarez discusses the 22-year collaboration between director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro. This explosive and controversial eight-film cinematic alliance encompassed crime thrillers, boxing biographies, and deconstructions of the Hollywood musical.

Episode #1: Product Placement in Movies

In the premiere episode, Max Alvarez scrutinizes the controversial practice of promoting commercial products in movies, from laptop computers to beer and soda. What used to be a rare occurrence is now obligatory as major brands are flashed in scenes or mentioned in movie dialogue.