Communication and Culture | Media Genres: Film Noir
C392 | 1169 | James Naremore


The term film noir was first applied to American movies in the years
immediately after World War II, by French critics who were describing
a group of shadowy, mysterious Hollywood pictures about private eyes,
femmes fatales, perverse killers, criminal gangs, and lovers on the
run. By 1970, the term had been adopted by critics and filmmakers
throughout the world, and it has now become one of the most amorphous
but important categories in movie history. Virtually every major
director of the sound period has made at least one movie that could be
described as noir, and the classic thrillers of the 1940s still have a
powerful hold on the contemporary imagination.
	In this course, we will survey the history of American film
noir from 1941 to the present. We will emphasize several issues,
including the history of the term, the literary sources of noir, the
sexual and racial implications of individual films, the changing
patterns of Hollywood censorship and politics, the economics of film
production, and the evolution of film style. Students will see about
fifteen representative films. Assignments consist of two exams and two
short essays.