Communication And Culture
| Genre Study in Film
C397 | 1016 | Naremore
Meets with C592 1022
Topic: The Film Noir
Films shown 7-9:30pm R
The term "film noir" was first used by French movie critics to
describe a group of shadowy, mysterious Hollywood thrillers of the
1940s--pictures about private eyes, femmes fatales, criminal gangs, and
lovers on the run. Over the next fifty years, the term was adopted by
critics and filmmakers throughout the world, and it has become one of the
most amorphous yet important categories in American cultural history.
Virtually every major American director of the sound period has made at
least one "film noir," and the classic thrillers of the 1940s still have a
powerful hold on the contemporary imagination.
This course will survey the history of American film noir,
including major studio features such as Double Indemnity and Laura,
B-pictures such as Detour and Gun Crazy, and "neo-noirs" such as Pulp
Fiction and Devil in a Blue Dress. We will emphasize several issues,
including the literary sources of film noir, the changing patterns of
Hollywood censorship and politics, the economics of film production, and
the evolution of movie style since the 1940s.
A weekly series of films will be shown in conjunction with the
class. (The bulletin lists these showings at 6-9:30pm on Thursdays, but
we can start as late as 7pm, depending on what time the class would
prefer.) The course will be made up of both lectures and discussions.
Readings will include a short novel, a reference book, a textbook, and a
small collection of critical writings. Grades will be based on attendance
and participation, two written examinations, a 2-page "diagnostic" essay,
and a 7-page critical paper.
This class may be used for credit by students who are working
toward a Certificate in Film Studies.