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WSP 354 — Film Noir: The Essential Six

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Fri - Sun
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 3 days
Date(s): Mar 1—Mar 3
Drop Deadline: Mar 1
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $295
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Status: Open
Please Note: Full schedule: Friday, March 1, 6:30 - 9:00 pm; Saturday, March 2, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday, March 3, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri - Sun
Mar 1—Mar 3
3 days
Drop By
Mar 1
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Elliot Lavine
Please Note: Full schedule: Friday, March 1, 6:30 - 9:00 pm; Saturday, March 2, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday, March 3, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Film noir (from French, literally “black film”) exploded across movie screens in 1940. Almost immediately, Hollywood studios seized upon this burgeoning new trend—a startling blend of German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s and the French poetic realism films of the 1930s—and created a brand-new type of American crime film, one in which chiaroscuro lighting, psychologically aberrant behavior, and the unmistakable feeling that Fate would invariably play a role in the final outcome all contributed to this vibrant cinematic concoction. Bathed in luxurious shadows and menacing nuances, these films have become essential to virtually any discussion about film in the 20th century.

From the musty shadow factories of Poverty Row to the opulent excesses of big-budget Hollywood studios, film noir in the 1940s and 1950s captured the fatalistic mood of midcentury America better than anything else being released into movie theaters at that time. In three days we will watch six films generally regarded to be among the finest examples of the American noir style. They will be watched in their entirety and discussed with respect to their overall place in the richly diverse and emotionally stimulating film noir universe. The films and their directors are Detour (1945; Edgar G. Ulmer), Out of the Past (1947; Jacques Tourneur), Nightmare Alley (1947; Edmund Goulding), Raw Deal (1948; Anthony Mann), Kiss Me Deadly (1955; Robert Aldrich), and Touch of Evil (1958; Orson Welles).

Elliot Lavine, Film Programmer

Elliot Lavine teaches film studies courses for Oregon State. In 2010, he 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.