Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10267/3462
Title: ENGL 381-01, Tough Guys, Dangerous Dames, and Streets With No Name: American Film Noir, Fall 2008
Authors: Richards, Rashna
Keywords: English, Department of;Syllabus;Curriculum;2008 Fall
Issue Date: 27-Aug-2008
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Series/Report no.: Syllabi CRN
19500
Abstract: A telephone rings in darkness. With only partial lighting from the back of the frame, objects slowly materialize on a bedside table: an old stand-up telephone, a pouch of tobacco, a dusty ashtray, an alarm clock balanced on the edge of a book, a newspaper turned to the racing section. Curtains sway ominously from the night breeze in the background, while in the foreground a fumbling hand reaches in to grab the ringing telephone. A private detective has been shot dead, the caller informs, by the crook he was shadowing. No one cares. This is a bleak world--of tough guys, dangerous dames, and streets with no name. This is the world of American film noir. In 1946, French critic Nino Frank used the term "film noir" to describe the existential, expressionist, and erotic crime thrillers being produced by Hollywood at that time. The gritty look, cynical mood, and scathing tone of films such as John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, Edward Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet, and Otto Preminger's Laura, he argued, marked the emergence of a new trend in Hollywood cinema, one that undercut George Bailey's optimism and exposed the dark side of the American dream. Since then, film noir has been variously regarded as a style, a genre, and a movement, expressive of the fears, desires, and anxieties of mid-century America. In this course, we will examine the noir phenomenon, from its beginnings during World War II to its explosion in postwar America to its recent postmodern revivals. In the first half of the semester, we will trace its roots in German Expressionism and in hard-boiled detective fiction and explore how noir films deal with social tensions around urban life, gender roles and sexual identities, race relations, and so on while complicating the success story of postwar America. During the second half, we will consider why the bleakness and disillusionment pervasive during World War II continue to resonate in American cinema and analyze how neo-noir films both honor and parody classic noir.
Description: This syllabus was submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the course instructor.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10267/3462
Appears in Collections:English Department. Syllabi

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