The Private Eye: Crime, Detection, and the City (Paul Grimstad, Alan Trachtenberg)

ENG422/AMST 417 01 / FILM 439 01 (S13)
Paul Grimstad and Alan Trachtenberg
Spring 2013
Rm 220, 149 Elm
Th 3:30-5:20
Koerner Center, 149 Elm St.
Seminar room, 2nd floor,

The Private Eye:
Crime, Detection and the City

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”
Raymond Chandler

The class will focus on a group of American films of the 1940s and 1950s, many of them based on novels of the 1930s, in which crime, detection, and cities figure together to produce a distinctive cinema known as noir. Through discussion of visual style, narrative form, character, performance, and mise en scene the class will consider meanings of “noir” in film and fiction. Attitudes toward class, gender, sexuality, criminality, race and ethnicity, state authority and police power also figure as major elements in the noir world.
Requirements: an oral report (10-15 minutes); two papers, due February 7 (2-3 pages), and April 11 (10 pages).

James Naremore, More than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts (University of California Press)
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (Vintage)
James Cain, Double Indemnity (Vintage)
Vera Caspary, Laura (Mass Market paperback)
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (Vintage)
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (Vintage)
Geoffrey Homes, Build My Gallows High (Trafalgar Square)
Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Naked City (De Capo paperback)
Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly, in The Mike Hammer Collection, Vol.
2 (New American Library)
Comito, Terry, ed., Touch of Evil (Rutgers Films in Print, Vol. 3)
XP: packet of readings, available at TYCO, Elm St.

Screenings: Wednesday 7-9 PM. Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St,
Room b20 —

Jan. 23, The Maltese Falcon
Jan. 30, Double Indemnity
Feb 6, Laura
Feb 13, Murder, My Sweet
Feb 20, The Big Sleep
Feb 27, Out of the Past
Mar 6, Naked City
Mar 27, T-Men
Apr 3, The Big Combo
Apr 10, Kiss Me Deadly
Apr 17, Touch of Evil
Apr 24, Chinatown

Jan 17 Introduction
In-class screening: Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)
24 Film: The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Readings: Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (1931);
Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder” (XP)
Naremore, 1-39, 81-95
Edenbaum; McCann (XP)
31 Film: Double Indemnity (1944)
Readings: Cain, Double Indemnity (1936
Place & Peterson, “Some Visual Motifs of Film
Noir” (XP)
Borde & Chaumeton (XP)
Feb 7 Film: Laura, 1944
Readings: Caspary, Laura;
Sylvia Harvey, “Woman’s Place: The Absent Family of
Film Noir” (XP)
Janey Place, “Women in Film Noir” (XP)
14 Film: Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Readings: Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
Trachtenberg, “The Modernist City of FiIm
Noir” (XP)
21 Film: The Big Sleep (1946)
Readings: Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
Jameson, “The Synoptic Chandler” (XP)
28 Film: Out of the Past (1947)
Readings: Homes, Build My Gallows High (1946)
Naremore, 167-196
Mainwaring, “An Interview” (XP)
Flinn, “Out of the Past” (XP)
Mar 7 Film: Naked City (1948)
Reading: Weegee, Naked City (1945)
Dimendberg (XP)
28 Film: T-Men (1947)
Readings: Robert E. Smith, “Mann in the Dark” (XP)
John Alton, “Mystery Lighting” (XP)
Apr 4 Film: The Big Combo, 1955
Readings: Warshow,”Gangster as Tragic Hero” (XP)
11 Film: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Readings: Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly (1952)
Silver, “Evidence of a Style” (XP)
18 Film: Film: Touch of Evil (1958)
Readings: Comito (ed.): 3-42, 199-212, 235-258
Apr 25 Chinatown (with Robert Towne screenplay)

CONTENTS, Xerox Packet (XP)
1. Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder,” Chandler (Library of America, 1995)
2. Robert I. Edenbaum, “The Poetics of the Private Eye,” The
Critical Responses to Dashiell Hammett, ed. Metress (Greenwood Press, 1994)
3. Borde and Chaumeton, from A Panorama of American Film Noir (1955)
4. Janey Place an Lowell Peterson, “Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir,” Film Noir Reader, eds. Silver & Ursini (Limelight Editions, 1996)
5. Quart & Auster, “The Forties,” from American Film and Society since 1945 (2001)
6. Alan Trachtenberg, “The Modernist City of Film Noir,” American Modernism Across the Arts, eds. Bochner & Edwards (Peter Lang, 1999
7. Sean McCann, from Gumshoe America (Duke University Press, 2000)
8. Frederic Jameson, “The Synoptic Chandler,” Shades of Noir, ed. Copjec (Verso, 1993)
9. Daniel Mainwaring, Tom Flinn, from, The Big Book of Noir, ed. Gorman, et. al. (Carroll & Graff, 1998)
10. Edward Dimendberg, “Naked Cities,” from Film Noir and
the Spaces of Modernity (Harvard U Press, 2004)
11. Robert E. Smith, “Mann in the Dark,” Film Noir Reader, eds.
Silver & Ursini (Limelight Editions, 1996)
12. John Alton, from Painting with Light (U of CA Press,
13. Quart & Auster, “The Fifties”
14. Robert Warshow, The Gangster as Tragic Hero,” The
Immediate Experiece (1970)
15. J. P Telotte, “The Fantastic Realism of Film Noir: Kiss Me
Deadly,” Wide Angle (Jn 1992)

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