Films, exceptional films, often portray people with insight and depth. We may not immediately understand why it is, but there is something honest and profound in the portrayals.

Your assignment is to watch one of the following films (each a classic from the 1940's and early 1950'sódo not view a remake). Using one of the personality models reviewed in the lectures and/or the text, speculate on the protagonistís:

1.  Personality (i.e., describe the protagonistís personality using traits/types/ dimensions defined by the model ).  To illustrate, Alfred Adler proposed four Major lifestyle types:  The ruling type, the getting type, the avoiding type, and the socially useful type.  If you use Alder as your model, describe the protagonist in terms of one of these types, using his or her behaviors in the film to illustrate why you think they fit that type. 

2. Motivation (i.e., what promotes the protagonist to do whatever he or she does).  For example, if you are using Freud's theory, all behavior is ultimately motivated by instincts and there are conflicts between instinctual desire and society (as internalized as the Super Ego).  Ego defensives exist to prevent id instinctual impulses from being expressed; something the energy is focused and channeled into another activity or toward another object.  Sometimes, with some people, Freud proposed that the ego is not strong enough to hold back the expression of the instincts.  Taking a very different approach, Maslow proposes that an individual is motivated by a hierarchy of needs and that lack of gratification of a need can have an impact on a person's choices.

3. Developmental experiences or issues that help explain who the person is as an adult.  By developmental I mean the childhood and adolescent events that, according to the model you are using, would explain the person's behavior and attitudes as an adult.  In many of these films, we do not see scenes of when the protagonist went through as a child.  Sometimes references are made in passing but often nothing is said at all about the protagonist's childhood.  Your task is to speculate on what happened to the protagonist.  Again, use the personality theory to base your guess.

4. Response to perceived threat (i.e., a threat as defined by the protagonist).  Karen Horney proposed that all people are motivated by the basic need for safety, security and freedom from threat.  An event, or fearing that something will happen, can threatened a person's sense of security if they believe they will lose something they need to be safe.  

5. The nature of the relationships with others.  In all these movies there are a number of characters with whom the protagonist interacts.  Speculate on the nature of these relationships in terms of what the theory you are using would propose.  Carl Jung, for example proposed archetypes that are "essentially, thought forms or ideas that give rise to visions projected onto current experiences" (Ryckman, 2000, p 84) that can reflect unresolved issues from childhood, a current threat, or mature, rational patterns of behaving. 

In addition to your observations of the protagonist you can use the observations that other characters in the film make about the person.

The paper is to be 4 to 5 pages long, typed, doubled spaced. Do not write a plot summary of the film: I know these films--- believe me, I know these films---, so I donít need to be told the story. Instead you can describe certain instants (i.e., scenes) and the protagonistís behavior, words, or reactions in these to illustrate a point.




Year Released
Casablanca Richard "Rick" Blaine 1943
Citizen Kane Charles Foster Kane  1941
High Noon Marshal Kane 1952
Itís A Wonderful Life George Bailey 1947
Night of the Hunter Harry Powell 1955
Notorious  Alicia Huberman 1946
On the Waterfront Terry Malloy 1954
Rebecca The second Mrs de Winter 1940
Marty Marty 1955
Roman Holiday Princess Ann aka Anya 'Smitty' Smith 1953
The Best Years Of Our Lives Fred . Homer or Al, your choice 1946
Shadow of a Doubt "Young" Charlie 1943
Sunset Boulevard Norma Desmond 1950
The Third Man Holly Martins or Harry Lime, your choice 1949

These films have been chosen because they each provide a vivid character portrayal from which inferences can be drawn to illustrate the theoretical points you are to explore.  They are also outstanding movies from "Hollywood's Golden Age."  They are also black and white. ( If you are one of those who dislike black and white movies, check out a paper I wrote on the subject  Black and White).  The movies are available through Netflix, Amazon, the school library (second floor), and other sources. I hope this assignment works out to be a pleasant experience for you.

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