One great asset of the movies of the Classic Era is the rather large assortment of memorable performances by well-known character actors and actresses in solid support of the stars of the silver screen. Several of these inventive and professional performers appeared in one hundred or more films during their film careers, typically enlivening the scripts and frequently “stealing the show” from the ostensible stars of the pictures. This seminar will turn the spotlight on a few of these successful and interesting screen artists, giving particular attention to some of their best roles. Selections will be drawn from across a large number of film genres, including suspense films, family dramas, mysteries, Westerns, war films, comedies, and others, in an effort to illustrate the creative contributions of these talented icons of the studio system. While the principal focus will be on American films, some attention will also be given to the character players of British cinema. The goal of the seminar will be to give participants an enhanced appreciation of, and respect for, the contributions of the many durable character actresses and actors who enriched the movies of the Golden Age of film.
Jack Rhodes received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas at Austin and later became interested in communication and film studies. His principal academic assignments were at Colorado College, the University of Utah, and Miami University (Ohio), where he taught the graduate course on Rhetoric of Film for several years. Rhodes also served as chair of the Department of Communication at Miami and retired as executive director of Miami’s regional campus in Hamilton, Ohio. He is the author of three books and several scholarly articles and has recently concentrated his research and lecturing on the rhetoric of film genres. This will be his eleventh year teaching Björklunden seminars.