This past weekend I found some old pictures from my freshman year at Ohio University. Those pictures really took me back. It was fun, and a little depressing, seeing my eighteen year-old self having the time of my life. But funnily enough it wasn’t just the memories of all night cram sessions, friends, parties, pizzas, beer, and guys that the pictures evoked. I was also reminded of my favorite class in college. It was a film noir class that met once a week for two hours. There was minimal lecturing from the professor, and I can’t even remember if we had a textbook, but we watched a movie every week. I loved every minute of that class and being transported back to the 40s and 50s. I loved the dark, stylish, black and white crime dramas featuring private eyes, grifters, drifters, unlucky citizens, and femme fatales. Everybody had a secret and there were few happy endings. Here’s some of what was on our syllabus.
Strangers on a Train (1951)-A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement. Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, and Ruth Roman
Double Indemnity (1944)-An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. Starring: Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)-A married woman and a drifter fall in love, and then plot to murder her husband... but even once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions. Starring: Lana Turner, John Garfield, and Hume Cronyn.
The Big Sleep (1946)-Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely.
Out of the Past (1947)-A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames. Starring: Robert Mitchem, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer
Mildred Pierce (1945)-After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but can't win the approval of her spoiled daughter. Starring: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, and Ann Blyth.
If you haven't seen any of these films, I highly recommend them. Also, check out the collection of film noir for free online at the Moving Image Archive.