Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

This course will run twice a week. Outside of class, students are to watch the assigned films. There will be a showing once a week of a new film.

Course Description

This class will explore Hollywood Film Noir as it developed during the 1930s-50s. The focus will be on important émigré directors who moved to Hollywood when the Nazis rose to power, including Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmak, Edgar Ulmer, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann. Also to be considered are contributions by cinematographers, set designers, and composers. Class activities include a field trip to the Sackler Museum at Harvard to look at émigré artworks from this period, a forum and concert by the Boston Chamber Music Society in Kresge during session 3, and a concurrent series of six great examples of film noir from the 1940s. (See separate IAP listings for the film series and concert.) Assignments will include short response papers about three of the films in the series, and reports by students on examples of "neo-noir" films from recent decades.


1 What is Film Noir? / Our Five Directors / Analyzing Double Indemnity  
2 Narrative and Visual Complexities in Early Noir / Comparing Our First Two Films  
3 Émigré Artists and Expressionist Visual Styles

Trip to the Harvard Sackler Art Museum

Response paper 1 due

4 "B" Movies as Noir's Lifeblood; Artists in Exile; Noir Existentialism  
5 Paranoia and Madness in a Noir Universe; Noir Music Response paper 2 due
6 American Writers and Émigré Directors / Deeper into Noir Conventions  
7 Noir Movies around 1950—And After  
8 Neo-Noir (1980 to the Present) Student group-presentations
9 More Neo-Noir and Summing Up: The Legacy of Film Noir Today

More student group presentations

Third response paper due