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



­­A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (April – July, 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 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.

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.

The weekly session is: Saturdays at 12pm PT/3pm ET (North America)
(8pm UK time/9pm 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 .


April 23
Lecture 1. The Shamus
THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) – John Huston [1hr41]
Reading: ‘Fly Paper’ by Dashiell Hammett

April 30
Lecture 2. Knight Moves
MURDER MY SWEET (1944) – Edward Dmytryk [1hr35]
Reading: ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ by Raymond Chandler

May 7
Lecture 3. The Sewn-Up City
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) – Lewis Milestone [1hr56]
Reading: ‘The Homecoming’ by Dorothy B. Hughes

May 14
Lecture 4. Eyes on the City
THE NAKED CITY (1948) – Jules Dassin [1hr36]
HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948) – Alfred L. Werker/Anthony Mann [1hr19]

May 21
Lecture 5. A Way To Lose
OUT OF THE PAST (1947) – Jacques Tourneur [1hr37]
DETOUR (1945) – Edgar G. Ulmer [1hr08]
Reading: from The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

** BREAK **

June 4
Lecture 6. The Big Carnival
ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) – Billy Wilder [1hr51]
Reading: ‘Forever After’ by Jim Thompson

June 11
Lecture 7. Murder Most Foul
IN A LONELY PLACE (1950) – Nicholas Ray [1hr34]
THE BIG HEAT (1953) – Fritz Lang [1hr30]

June 18
Lecture 8. Ida Lupino’s B-Noir
THE HITCH-HIKER (1953) – Ida Lupino [1hr11]
PRIVATE HELL 36 (1954) – Don Siegel [1hr20]

June 25
Lecture 9. Fighting a Swamp with a Teaspoon
THE BIG COMBO (1955) – Joseph E. Lewis [1hr46]
Reading: ‘Some Lucky License’ by Charles Willeford

July 2
Lecture 10. This Dirty Town
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) – Alexander MacKendrick [1hr36]

** BREAK **

July 16
Lecture 11. On the Border
TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) – Orson Welles [1998: 1hr51]
Reading: from A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

July 23
Lecture 12. American Underworld
UNDERWORLD USA (1961) – Samuel Fuller [1hr38]