American film melodrama has been considered both the genre of suffering protagonists, incredible coincidences, and weeping spectators as well as a mode of action, suspense, and in-the-nick-of-time escapes. In this course, we will examine American film melodrama in terms of a dialectic of sentiment and sensation that draws heavily on Gothic tropes of terror, live burial, and haunted internal states. We will trace the origins of film melodrama and the cinematic Gothic to their literary antecedents, the horrors of the French Revolution, and classical and sensational stage melodramas of the nineteenth century. In addition to the 1940s Gothic woman’s film cycle, we will excavate the Gothic in the maternal melodrama of the 1930s, the suspense thriller, noir detective film, domestic melodrama, the birth of the slasher film, and the supernatural horror film of the 1970s. Literary sources will include works by Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Allan Poe. Directors considered will include D.W. Griffith, King Vidor, Otto Preminger, Douglas Sirk, William Friedkin, Tim Burton, and our major example, Alfred Hitchcock.