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FLM 120 — Noir Done Right: The Uncensored Film Noir of France

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Jun 28—Aug 9
Time: 6:30—9:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 11
Unit: 1
Tuition: $355
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
6:30—9:00 pm
Jun 28—Aug 9
7 weeks
Drop By
Jul 11
1 Unit
Mick LaSalle
It is well known that the French love film noir, and that they gave the genre its name. What’s less known is that in the 1940s and 1950s, the French were also making noir films. Few Americans have seen these movies, but discovering them is like finding gold where you thought there was only rock. The situation is not simply a matter of one or two standout titles, but of a rich vein of brilliant and accessible entertainment, featuring major stars such as Simone Signoret and Brigitte Bardot, as well as production values to rival Hollywood.

In fact, many of these films surpass Hollywood in one significant way: They were made in a country with no censorship. Thus, the subject matter and situations are adult. Issues that could be only hinted at in midcentury America, such as drug addiction, prostitution, and segregation, can be boldly depicted; and love scenes don’t end outside the bedroom door. Through clips and features, the course will provide an illuminating seven-week immersion into a genre and culture both wonderfully familiar and yet bracingly different. Through films such as A Kiss for a Killer (1957) and Night Heat (1958), students will come away knowing what many may not be aware of: The French didn’t just name film noir. They did it as well as Hollywood did.

Mick LaSalle, Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of three books: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of Modern Man, and The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, and other Hearst newspapers.

Textbooks for this course:

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