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



­­A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (November 2021-February 2022)


In this original 12-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 16 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 12pm PT/3pm ET.
European session: Tuesdays 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. Enrollments are open. Contact me at .


November 7/9
Lecture 1. The Shamus
THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) – John Huston [1hr41]
Short story: ‘Fly Paper’ by Dashiell Hammett

November 14/16
Lecture 2. Knight Moves
MURDER MY SWEET (1944) – Edward Dymytrk [1hr35]
Short story: ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ by Raymond Chandler

November 21/23
Lecture 3. The Sewn-Up City
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) – Lewis Milestone [1hr56]
Short story: ‘The Homecoming’ by Dorothy B. Hughes

November 28/30
Lecture 4. Eyes on the City
THE NAKED CITY (1948) – Jules Dassin [1hr36]
RAW DEAL (1948) – Anthony Mann [1hr19]

December 5/7
Lecture 5. The Heist
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) – John Huston [1hr52]
Short story: ‘Black Pudding’ by David Goodis

December 12/14
Lecture 6. A Way To Lose
OUT OF THE PAST (1947) – Jacques Tourneur [1hr37]
THE SET-UP (1949) – Robert Wise [1hr13]

December 19/21
Lecture 7. The Big Carnival
ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) – Billy Wilder [1hr51]
Short story: ‘Forever After’ by Jim Thompson

** BREAK **

January 9/11
Lecture 8. Death on the Cheap
THE HITCHHIKER (1953) – Ida Lupino [1hr11]
ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951) – Nicholas Ray [1hr22]

January 16/18
Lecture 9. Fighting a Swamp with a Teaspoon
THE BIG COMBO (1955) – Joseph E. Lewis [1hr46]
Short story: ‘Some Lucky License’ by Charles Willeford

January 23/25
Lecture 10. This Dirty Town
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) – Alexander MacKendrick [1hr36]
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) –Robert Wise [1hr35]

January 30/February 1
Lecture 11. On the Border
TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) – Orson Welles [1998: 1hr51]
Short story: Chester Himes

February 6/8
Lecture 12. American Underworld
UNDERWORLD USA (1961) – Samuel Fuller [1hr38]