Film Noir and the dark side of Hollywood

Course Dates: 30/05/21 - 06/06/21
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online
Film noir describes the darker tone and visual style of 1940s/50s’ American films, from The Maltese Falcon to Kiss Me Deadly. Emigre directors, thrilled by Raymond Chandler’s pulp poetry, painted an expressionist realism onto the screen in an outburst of artistic maturity, style and meaning. Pulp fiction’s existentialism exposed Hollywood confections and the dark side of the American dream. Indeed, The Bad and the Beautiful led to The Long Goodbye.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £36.00

Course Code: HF301

Sun, day, 30 May - 06 Jun '21

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

We will view and discuss some of the best films of the classical period of film noir (1941-1955) and the later development of 1970s/80s neo-noir as well as the wider influence of film noir on current cinematic culture. The very term film noir was not of Hollywood’s devising nor intention. As art it defies easy definition but as a critique of American society and politics it continues to be necessary and welcome.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Partial filmography from origins to present:
• Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
• Farewell My Lovely (Dmytryk, 1944)
• Laura (Preminger, 1944)
• The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946)
• Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947)
• Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
• Body Heat (1980)
• Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
• Dark Waters (Haynes 2019)
• Mank (Fincher 2020).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Describe the history and development of film noir.
• Identify key examples of film noir.
• Identify key directors and evaluate their style and contribution to film noir.
• Identify key stars and evaluate their roles in film noir.
• Evaluate classical Hollywood production to which film noir was the counterpoint and ‘conscience’
• Evaluate 'film noir' as a critical concept for thinking about American cinema of the 1940s
• Evaluate the critical accounts which named and delineated film noir.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for all levels and does not require any particular skills - just an enthusiasm for film and discussing film and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others. The course will provide an introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge in the subject area.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Short lecture, viewing film extracts, whole group and small group work. No homework required but reading around the subject or viewing select films would be helpful.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. Materials will be provided for each class. Please bring notepad or device to take notes. Here is a brief bibliography of background readings if you wish to prepare beforehand (optional).
• Mark Bould Film Noir: From Berlin to Sin City (London/NY: Wallflower Press, 2005)
• Ann E Kaplan Women in Film Noir (BFI Publishing, 1998)
• Robert Porfirio., Film Noir Reader 3: Interviews with Filmmakers of the Classic Noir Period (NY: Limelight Editions, 2001).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other film courses at, history & writing/Film Studies.

John Wischmeyer

John Wischmeyer (MA in Film Theory) set up, ran and programmed his own cinema in West London and has since taught film studies at the former Gainsborough studio, the BFI and City Lit since 1999, Hitchcock’s centenary year. John has covered a wide range film topics under the banner ‘Cinema Investigates America’ and has a particular interest in and considerable knowledge of Hitchcock, Hollywood studios, American independent cinema and film noir, film technique and style.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.