Online course: American Cinema in the 70s: A New Look at New Hollywood


(REVISED DATES: Now January-April 2022)


The 1970s is one of the richest periods in American film history. In this original 12-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 16 key films of the New Hollywood era from such essential directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Elaine May, Peter Bogdanovich, Arthur Penn, Sidney Poitier, John Huston, Orson Welles, George Lucas, and William Friedkin.

The lectures will explore these films through the stories of their production and in the wider context of American society, history, and politics. We’ll examine the transformation of traditional genres such as the western and the detective film, and the tremendous changes in the film industry before the rise of the blockbuster era. We’ll also examine the careers of the major directors and writers.

Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students. Each week I’ll give an original lecture presentation on a set film and theme and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All participants will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two) in preparation for the session. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for enjoyment and discovery. All are welcome.

I will be running two identical sessions each week to accommodate different international time zones. Choose whichever you prefer:

American session: Saturdays 12pm PT/3pm ET
European session: Wednesdays 7:30pm UK time/8:30pm CET

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$130. Email to enroll.


January 8th (US)/12th (EU)
Lecture 1: The Dawn of New Hollywood
Movie: FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

January 15th (US)/19th (EU)
Lecture 2: The Revisionist Western
Movie: BUCK AND THE PREACHER (Sidney Poitier, 1972) & LAWMAN (Michael Winner, 1971)

January 22nd (US)/26th (EU)
Lecture 3: Nixon at the Movies
Movie: THE CONVERSATION (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

January 29th (US)/February 2nd (EU)
Lecture 4: Nostalgia and Forgetting
Movies: WHAT’S UP, DOC? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972) & FAT CITY (John Huston, 1972) 

February 5th (US)/9th (EU)
Lecture 5: Men and Women on the Road
Movies: SCARECROW (Jerry Schatzberg, 1973) & ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (Martin Scorsese, 1974)


February 19th (US) /23rd (EU)
Lecture 6: New Hollywood and its Discontents
Movie: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (Orson Welles, 1970-6/2018)

February 26th (US)/March 2nd (EU)
Lecture 7: Winning Streaks
Movie: CALIFORNIA SPLIT (Robert Altman, 1974) & MIKEY AND NICKY (Elaine May, 1976)

March 5th (US)/9th (EU)
Lecture 8: Crimes on the Edge of America
Movie: NIGHT MOVES (Arthur Penn, 1975)

March 12th (US)/16th (EU)
Lecture 9: Crimes on the Edge of the Galaxy
Movie: STAR WARS (George Lucas, 1977)

March 19th (US)/23rd (EU)
Lecture 10: The Wages of Fear
Movie: SORCERER (William Friedkin, 1977)

March 26th (US)/30th (EU)
Lecture 11: Napalm in the Morning
Movie: HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER’S APOCALYPSE (Fax Bahr/George Hickenlooper/Eleanor Coppola, 1991)

April 2nd (US)/6th (EU)
Lecture 12: Permanent Vietnam
Movie: CUTTER’S WAY (Ivan Passer, 1981)


“I truly enjoyed Matthew Asprey Gear’s American Cinema in the 70’s course on New Hollywood.  Matthew’s thoughtful film selections and insightful lectures provided new perspectives on a set of American films that I knew and loved as well as introducing me to new films that are now favorites.  His guided discussions about the films also allowed students to express ideas and hone their understanding of the films in an open and supportive forum. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in learning more about film history and this era of Hollywood.”

– Doug

“Matthew’s 70s cinema course is a great way to enjoy some of the deeper cuts from the decade that gave us New Hollywood. It was fascinating to consider these films in the wider American context of the time. Above all, it was a lot of fun!”

– Ronan

“Matthew’s 70s Hollywood course revealed New Hollywood as an authentic film movement, not just a time when a lot of good movies happened to be made, and opened up my eyes to the idea that a body of films from this era contained a common approach or feeling, even if that approach wasn’t planned. Matthew includes a lot of interesting research and revealing facts in his lectures. He brings cross-disciplinary knowledge to these lectures, for instance exploring the films’ relationships to literature and discussing musical soundtracks in a way that reveals great musical knowledge.”

– Jesse

“The 70s course was informative and fun. The classes were a mix of well researched short lectures and lively discussions. The discussion ranged from the directors, writers and actors to the context of contemporary events. The movies all stand alone as compelling projects as well as weave together to illustrate a larger story of the period. I recommend the class for pure enjoyment but also as the framework to continue exploring on your own.”

– Derek