Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, The Big Sleep, 1946
A police detective down on his luck. A beautiful woman with a shady past. Dead bodies in dark corridors and dim light seeping through Venetian blinds. A world of chain-smoking deceivers, drifters, loners, con artists and killers—all double-dealing their way toward an uncertain and possibly fatal future.
This is film noir, one of the most original, and stunningly stylized film genres of the 1940s and ‘50s whose impact still resonates in popular culture today. The protagonists ranged from the iconic Bogart, Bacall, Mitchum, Crawford, Stanwyck, Garfield, Lupino, and Lancaster to equally impactful partners in screen crime, including Lizbeth Scott, Robert Ryan, and Richard Conte. These mid-20th century crime films—mostly filmed in black-and-white—possessed a visual style and design coupled with gripping and tension-filled narratives.
In this three-part multimedia course featuring memorable sequences and archival illustrations film historian Max Alvarez, author of The Crime Films of Anthony Mann, examines the origins and achievements of the brilliant actors, directors, writers, and craftspeople behind this remarkably enduring genre.
November 3 Masters of Noir
Key Hollywood filmmakers who began their careers directing thrillers or specialized in suspense/noir during pivotal stages in their filmographies. German emigres Fritz Lang (Scarlet Street, Woman in the Window, The Big Heat), Otto Preminger (Laura, Whirlpool, Where the Sidewalk Ends), and Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase, The Killers, Criss-Cross); and their American contemporaries John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, The Asphalt Jungle), Henry Hathaway (Kiss of Death, Fourteen Hours) and Anthony Mann (T-Men, Raw Deal).
November 10 The Noir Renegades
The Hollywood of the 1940s and ‘50s accommodated directors who rebelled against convention and periodically applied the film noir style to films addressing post-World War II social or political conditions. Nicholas Ray (They Live by Night, In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground), Joseph Losey (The Lawless, The Prowler, The Big Night), Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly), Samuel Fuller (Pickup on South Street, House of Bamboo), Jules Dassin (The Naked City, Night and the City, Riffifi), Robert Rossen (Body and Soul, Johnny O’Clock), Ida Lupino (The Hitchhiker), Edgar G. Ulmer (Ruthless), and Phil Karlson (99 River Street, Kansas City Confidential).
November 17 The Big Guns Tangle With Noir
During their lengthy careers, some world-renowned directors made brief but unforgettable stopovers in noir territory, including Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard.), Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep), Japan’s Akira Kurosawa (Stray Dog, Scandal), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Somewhere in the Night, No Way Out), Lewis Milestone (The Strange Love of Martha Ivers), Douglas Sirk (Lured, Shockproof), Elia Kazan (Boomerang!, Panic in the City), and even Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train, The Wrong Man).
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