Online course: Dark City Confidential: A New Look at Classic Noir (1941-61)



­­A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (Summer 2021)


In this original 12-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 17 key films of the classic Film Noir era (1941-1961) as well as 7 classic noir short stories.

The lectures will explore these films through the stories of their production and in the wider context of American society, history, and politics. We’ll also examine the careers of the major directors and writers.

Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students. Each week I’ll give an original lecture presentation on a set film and theme and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All participants will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two), and occasionally read a short story. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for enjoyment and discovery. All are welcome.

I will be running two identical sessions each week to accommodate different international time zones. Choose whichever you prefer:

American session: Sundays 3pm PT/6pm ET
European session: Mondays 7:30pm UK time/8:30pm CET.

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$130. Please email me at to book your place in the course.


June 20/21
Lecture 1. The Shamus
THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) – John Huston [1hr41]
Short story: Dashiell Hammett

June 27/28
Lecture 2. Knight Moves
MURDER MY SWEET (1944) – Edward Dymytrk [1hr35]
Short story: Raymond Chandler

July 4/5 – NO CLASS

July 11/12
Lecture 3. The Sewn-Up City
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) – Lewis Milestone [1hr56]
Short story: Dorothy B. Hughes

July 18/19
Lecture 4. Eyes on the City
THE NAKED CITY (1948) – Jules Dassin [1hr36]
RAW DEAL (1948) – Anthony Mann [1hr19]

July 25/26
Lecture 5. The Heist
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) – John Huston [1hr52]
Short story: David Goodis

August 1/2
Lecture 6. A Way To Lose
OUT OF THE PAST (1947) – Jacques Tourneur [1hr37]
THE SET-UP (1949) – Robert Wise [1hr13]

August 8/9
Lecture 7. The Big Carnival
ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) – Billy Wilder [1hr51]
Short story: Jim Thompson

August 15/16
Lecture 8. Death on the Cheap
THE HITCHHIKER (1953) – Ida Lupino [1hr11]
ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951) – Nicholas Ray [1hr22

August 22/23
Lecture 9. A Liar’s Kiss
KISS ME DEADLY (1955) – Robert Aldrich [1hr46]
Short story: Charles Willeford

August 29/30
Lecture 10. This Dirty Town
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) – Alexander MacKendrick [1hr36]
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) –Robert Wise [1hr35]

September 5/6 – NO CLASS

September 12/13
Lecture 11. On the Border
TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) – Orson Welles [1998: 1hr51]
Short story: Chester Himes

September 19/20
Lecture 12. American Underworld
BLAST OF SILENCE (1961) – Allen Baron [1hr17]
UNDERWORLD USA (1961) – Samuel Fuller [1hr38]