Film Noir to Neo Noir: the long hot summer
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Film noir first appeared in Hollywood in the early 1940s then vanished in the late 50's. Neo-noir was the 70's revival of film noir, updating the themes of political corruption and darkness at the top. Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe would not feel out of place in Chinatown or southern Florida’s 'Body Heat'. A dark and deadly dream of a nightmare vision for a post-Watergate America.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF248
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
Body Heat moves James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity from 40's Los Angeles down to late seventies sultry south Florida. Chinatown is like a Dashiell Hammett hardboiled pulp fiction detective story about corruption and water made during Watergate. And Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye transports Chandler’s quintessentially forties’ Marlowe out of time and out of luck into 70's L.A. All three reflect classic film noir from Kiss Me Deadly and The Maltese Falcon to The Big Sleep. They embody all the best in film noir, which is to say, the worst: greed, lust, double-cross, murder! What better way to spend summer evenings.
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.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- The gripping story behind Chinatown’s fraught production.
- You don't call a film The Long Goodbye unless you're feeling elegiac. Robert Altman's movie, in its eccentric way, keeps faith with Raymond Chandler's melancholy as Marlowe drives his friend to Mexico in the middle of the night, then later learns of his murder.
- In the midst of a searing southern heat wave, a woman persuades her lover to murder her husband. Kasdan's film is set in contemporary Florida but its characters move through an atmosphere of 40s’ film noir. You watch the movie the first time from his point of view, then the second time from hers. Every scene plays two ways. Body Heat is good enough to make film noir play like we hadn't seen it before.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discover the key themes and motifs of film noir common to these 3 neo-noir films.
• Demonstrate a knowledge of the directors of Chinatown, Body Heat and The Long Goodbye.
• Demonstrate an understanding of how social context influenced film noir and latterly neo-noir.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Suitable for all levels, this course requires only an enthusiasm to learn more about the value of cinema, to discuss films, share ideas and listen to the views of others. It provides an introduction to the subject but will also be valuable for those wishing to build on existing knowledge.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Mini- lecture, viewing film extracts throughout with tutor-led discussion in the whole group and in breakout rooms for small group discussion. No prior preparation necessary.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Materials will be provided by the lecturer. Please bring a note-pad or materials for note taking.
Recommended (but not required) reading:The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
John Wischmeyer will be teaching HF301 Film Noir and the Dark Side of Hollywood on 30 May and 6 June.
He will be running the course, New Hollywood, New Wave, (code tbc) starting on 20/09/21.
Look for other film studies courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk/history, culture and writing/film studies.
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.