(FILM010) Film Noir

Man looking out through window blinds


Course start date: To be confirmed
Course end date: To be confirmed
Price: £150

Tutor(s): Andrea Standon
Course Code: FILM010
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 11 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: None
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Films List**
**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any films or texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Andrea Standon when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.


Join us as we investigate film noir – the classic genre of private detectives and femme fatales inhabiting the shadows of murder and betrayal.

The major period of noir falls between The Maltese Falcon in 1948 and A Touch of Evil in 1958, but this course extends beyond this period, in order to study the influence of the genre on contemporary cinema.

Together we will study a selection of key films, chosen in order to explore the political, philosophical and artistic elements which shaped this enduring and influential form of cinema.

Syllabus Plan

Week 01: Introduction to Film Noir: the Influence of Early Cinema
Week 02: Conventions of Character and Narrative in Film Noir – The Maltese Falcon, the first Noir
Week 03: Film Noir: Visual Style and Representation
Week 04: Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard
Week 05: Film Noir and Existentialism
Week 06: The Killers and Kiss Me Deadly
Week 07: Melodrama and Film Noir
Week 08: The Impact of Psychoanalysis, Textual Analysis and Criticism
Week 09: The Influence of Film Noir: Re-Makes, Retros and Neo-Noir
Week 10: Film Noir and Science Fiction
Week 11: Final Thoughts: Conclusions on Film Noir

Course Content in Depth

Week 01: Introduction to Film Noir: The Influence of Early Cinema with particular reference to Soviet Montage and German Expressionism

Focus films:

  • Metropolis (Fritz Lang 1927)
  • The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene 1920)
  • M Fritz Lang(1931)

Week 02: Conventions of Character and Narrative in Film Noir

Focus film:

  • The Maltese Falcon (John Huston 1941)

Week 03: Visual Style and Representation.

Week 04: Classic Noir.

Focus films:

  • Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944)
  • Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder 1950)

Week 05: Film Noir and Existentialism.

Focus film:

  • The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles 1947)

Week 06: The Killers and Kiss Me Deadly

Focus films:

  • The Killers (Robert Siodmak 1946)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich 1955)

Week 07: Melodrama and Film Noir.

Focus films:

  • Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz 1945)
    Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang 1945)

Week 08: The Impact of Psychoanalysis and Textual Analysis and Criticism

Focus film:

  • The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak 1946)
  • The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton 1955)
  • The Sweet Smell of Success(Alexander Mackendrick 1957)

Week 09: The influence of Film Noir: Re-makes, Retros and Neo-Noir.

Focus films:

  • China Town (Roman Polanski 1974)
  • Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese 1976)
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen Bros. 2001)

Week 10: Film Noir and Science Fiction

Focus film:

  • Blade Runner (Ridley Scott 1982 / 1992)

Week 11: Final thoughts: Conclusions on Film Noir.

Focus film:

  • Brick (Rian Johnson 2005)

Films List***

***Please note that you will need to acquire your own copies of the following films as they will not be provided as part of the course material. All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students booking before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking you are advised not to purchase any films until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

You are welcome to omit study of certain films if you wish.

The Maltese Falcon
Double Indemnity
Sunset Boulevard
The Lady From Shanghai
The Killers (1946)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Scarlet Street (1945)
The Dark Mirror (1946)
Night of the Hunter (1955)
Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold – 1957)
Taxi Driver
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Blade Runner (1982)
Brick (2005 dir. Rian Johnson)