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FLM 18 — Film Noir in the 1940s: The Primacy of the Visual

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Mar 31—Jun 2
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 2
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $435
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Mar 31—Jun 2
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 2
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Elliot Lavine
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Film noir, as a dominant and influential cinematic style, first exploded across American movie screens in 1940. Almost immediately, Hollywood studios seized upon this exciting new direction for crime films—a dramatic combination of German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s and French poetic realism films of the 1930s, blended into a harshly modern cocktail of chiaroscuro lighting, psychologically aberrant behavior, and the unmistakable feeling that Fate (or some other mysterious force) would inevitably play a role in the final outcome. Bathed in luxurious shadows and menacing nuances, these visually stimulating and sometimes disreputable excursions to the lower depths have become essential to any discussion of 20th-century film. Directors like Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Robert Siodmak, Jacques Tourneur, Jules Dassin, and others less well known unveiled sights and ideas once considered unwholesome and unwelcome in the American cinema. The films we will view and discuss in this course represent some of the finest examples of the 1940s crop of noir films, a stimulating blend of the familiar and the obscure: Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), I Wake Up Screaming (1941), Blues in the Night (1941), Phantom Lady (1944), Out of the Past (1947), Body and Soul (1947), Brute Force (1947), The Lady from Shanghai (1948), They Live by Night (1948), and Criss Cross (1949). This highly intensive experience is designed to be a total immersion into the darkest corners of the imagination through a treasure trove of stylistically dazzling films.

All films can be rented or streamed instantly through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play Movies, or other online platforms.

Elliot Lavine, Instructor in Film Studies, Oregon State

Elliot Lavine has been a film programmer and filmmaker for more than thirty years. He has received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.