TCM’s Summer of Darkness and FREE Film Noir Course!

This June and July TCM is devoting all day every Friday to film noir, and as a huge fan of noir, I couldn’t be more excited! I’m probably going to have to buy another DVR or something (can you even do that?) to deal with all the noir goodness coming down the pipeline. You can download the full schedule in PDF form here

Even more exciting, though, is that TCM is partnering with Ball State University to offer a FREE online course in film noir, through online learning platform Canvas. That’s right, it’s an actual 9-week course that will grant you an actual certificate of completion if you do all the course requirements. The info page estimates that the coursework will take 2-4 hours per week, in addition to watching the films (on TCM, or via other means – the course promises that there will be public domain films available to watch even if you don’t have access to TCM). Even if you can’t put in that kind of time commitment, as I may not be able to myself, you can still enroll in the course and follow along at whatever level you’re able.


The 9 weeks will cover the definition of noir, its influences, its relationship to the studio system and the post-war era, and the types of characters and themes you find in noir. I’ve never done an online course like this, so I’m pretty excited to see how it’s going to go!

The fun starts on June 1 (that’s this Monday), but there’s still time to enroll! Be sure to let me know if you join up! I’d love to discuss one of my favorite genres with you, and I’m sure there will be plenty of healthy discussion both in the course itself and on Twitter and probaby Facebook!

Elsewhere: Top Ten Detective Films

I LOVE detective films of pretty much all flavors, but noir/neo-noir are my favorites, so when I was casting about for something to write about this week and noticed it was Dashiell Hammett’s birthday a few days ago I immediately checked Flickchart’s list of Best Detective Films, and was excited to discover that almost the whole top ten are Hammett/Chandler films or inspired by them. It didn’t hurt that I had seen and liked all of them! I had a great time writing this one up!


The Roundup: May 26, 2015


The Annotated Godfather: 10 Times Art Imitates Life in Coppola’s Classic by David Conrad at Flickchart


This is a fascinating post connecting things in The Godfather to the real-life events that inspired them, or that they’re referencing. As a huge history buff, I eat this kind of stuff up, and I will likely appreciate The Godfather that much more next time I see it thanks to this kind of trivia.

Rumors of mob connections shadowed Frank Sinatra throughout his career. In the early 1940s the crooner wanted out of his contract with band leader Tommy Dorsey, who was skimming a third of all Sinatra’s earnings. As the story goes, Sinatra’s literal godfather was Willie Moretti, a member of the Genovese family — one of the real-life “Five Families” of New York City crime — and Moretti bought Sinatra’s contract from Dorsey for a fraction of what Dorsey knew it was worth. The incident was widely publicized, which itself is an indication that it might be at least partly a media fabrication. In any case, the story is the inspiration for the “offer he couldn’t refuse” story that Michael tells Kay at the beginning of The Godfather. At the time Sinatra was a teen idol, hence the young ages of the screaming girls who watch Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) perform at Connie Corleone (Talia Shire)’s wedding.

The Marvel-Industrial Complex by James Rocchi at Movie Mezzanine


Lots of stuff to chew on in this wide-ranging piece about Marvel movies and their implication for our larger culture and film industry.

This, then, is not a critique of the Marvel films, although it will discuss some of the intrinsic structural problems that plague all superhero films, and the Marvel movies specifically. Nor is it a discussion of whether or not “superhero fatigue” exists or not, although it will look at how, and where, money is spent on these films as they are bought and sold both domestically and internationally. The simple question which we have to ask—which we I think we’re obligated to ask—is: If these movies are the biggest thing in American pop culture, what does that say — openly, obliquely, or accidentally — about American culture itself?

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