Online course: New Light on the Old City: American Neo-Noir (1966-86)


­­AN 11-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (Autumn 2021)


In this original 11-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 18 key American films of the early Neo-Noir era (1966-1986) as well as 9 short pieces of noir fiction.

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. On December 12 we will welcome a special guest to the class to discuss First Blood (1982) – DAVID MORRELL, author of the original 1972 novel which introduced John Rambo to the world.

Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students. Each week I’ll give an original lecture presentation on the 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. Contact me at for further information.


October 3 (US)/4 (EU)
Lecture 1. Experiments in Noir Aesthetics
SECONDS (1966) – John Frankenheimer [107min]
POINT BLANK (1967) – John Boorman [92min]
Fiction: Excerpt from The Hunter (1962) by Richard Stark

October 10 (US)/11 (EU)
Lecture 2. American Paranoia
KLUTE (1971) – Alan J. Pakula [114min]
Fiction: Short stories by Patricia Highsmith and Nedra Tyre

October 17 (US)/18 (EU)
Lecture 3. Crooks on the Lam
THE LAST RUN (1971) – Richard Fleischer [95min]
CHARLEY VARRICK (1973) – Don Siegel [111min]

October 24 (US)/25 (EU)
Lecture 4. Guns in the Street
ACROSS 110th STREET (1972) – Barry Shear [102min]

THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973) – Peter Yates [103min]

October 31 (US)/November 1 (EU)
Lecture 5. The Private Eye Revisited
THE LONG GOODBYE (1973) – Robert Altman [112min]
NIGHT MOVES (1975) – Arthur Penn [100min]
Fiction: Short story by James Crumley  


November 14 (US)/15 (EU)
Lecture 6. Is It Safe?
MARATHON MAN (1976) – John Schlesinger [126min]
Fiction: Short stories by James Lee Burke and Paula Gosling

November 21 (US)/22 (EU)
Lecture 7. The Late Show
THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976/78) – John Cassavetes [108min]
AFTER HOURS (1985) – Martin Scorsese [97min]

November 28 (US)/29 (EU)
Lecture 8. Nobody’s Safe
PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981) – Sidney Lumet [167min]
Fiction: Short story by Robert Stone

December 5 (US)/6 (EU)
Lecture 9. Sex and Death
AMERICAN GIGOLO (1980) – Paul Schrader [117min]
CRUISING (1980) – William Friedkin [106min]

David-Morrell-headshotDecember 12 (US)/13 (EU)
Lecture 10. The Postwar Drifter
FIRST BLOOD (1982) – Ted Kotcheff [93min]
Fiction: Excerpt from First Blood (1972) by David Morrell
Special Guest: Author David Morrell [US session only]

December 19 (US)/20 (EU)
Lecture 11. Serial Killers
TIGHTROPE (1984) – Richard Tuggle [115min]
MANHUNTER (1986)  Michael Mann [120min]
Fiction: Short story by Sara Paretsky