Communication And Culture | Topics in Media History
C420 | 1199 | James Naremore

Topic: The Film Noir

The term "film noir" evokes images from a series of shadowy,
seductive Hollywood movies about private eyes, femmes fatales,
criminal gangs, and outlaw lovers on the run. Almost every major
American director has made at least one movie that could be called
noir, and the classic noir thrillers of the 1940s continue to have a
powerful hold on the imagination of audiences. This course will
survey the history of the form, discussing major studio releases such
as LAURA and DOUBLE INDEMNITY, B-pictures such as DETOUR and GUN
CRAZY, and "neo-noirs" such as DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS and CROUPIER.
The lectures will emphasize the history and function of "noir" as a
critical term; the literary sources of American film noir; the
changing pattern of Hollywood censorship and politics since the
1940s; the evolution of film style and technology; the economics of
film production; and the cross-media and cross-cultural uses of noir

Readings will include two volumes of criticism, an encyclopedic
reference book, a novel by Raymond Chandler, and a small packet of
essays. Students will attend a film screening each week. Writing
requirements are two exams (mid-term and final) and a 7-10 page paper.