Five Came Back:
Classic American Cinema After World War II

with Joseph Luzzi / Online

The book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood & the Second World War by Mark Harris, which later became an acclaimed Netflix series directed by Lauren Bouzereau, describes how the experiences in World War II of five directors would prove to be incredibly influential for the history of American film and Hollywood. This course will explore the major films of these “five” — the legends Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Ford, John Huston, and William Wyler — and discuss how their masterpieces would help redefine the American film industry. We will also consider the Netflix documentary on these acclaimed directors, and see how they influenced such later cinematic geniuses as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, among others.

6 Online Sessions


Sept 9 – Dec 2, 2021

2:00pm – 3:15pm EST


Session 1: SEPT 9

Laurent Bouzereau,
Five Came Back (2017)

Session 2: SEPT 30

Frank Capra,
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Session 3: OCT 14

George Stevens,
A Place in the Sun (1951)

Session 4: OCT 28

John Ford,
The Searchers (1956)

Session 5: NOV 11

John Huston,
The African Queen (1951)

Session 6: DEC 2

William Wyler,
Ben-Hur (1959)

Meet the moderator

Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi is a Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College, he holds a PhD in Italian Literature from Yale University. He is the author of five books, including My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins, 2015), a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection that has been translated into Italian, German, and Korean. His writings on FILM include the books A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2014), a finalist for The Bridge Book Award; and his edited anthology Italian Cinema: From the Silent Screen to the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2019).  Learn more.