UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2017

108 - 001 | German 182 - 001 | CCN: 15167

Film Genre: Film Noir

Anton Kaes,

4 Units

This course deals with American crime films of the 1940s made by German filmmakers in Hollywood who were refugees from Nazi persecution. Their “dark” films about urban corruption and moral ambiguity introduced a creative counter-tradition to the American entertainment industry. Stylistically indebted to German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s, film noir also conveyed the mood of dislocation, disillusionment, and alienation prevalent among German exiles. The course will focus on the modernist forms and philosophical undercurrents of these films and place them within larger political and cultural discourses of life in 1940s America. We’ll examine how the genre of film noir addresses social issues of the time: crime, law, justice, and the power of the state; the psychological effects of the war; class, gender, and the crisis of the ‘American Dream’. Films include noir classics like Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street, Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard, Robert Siodmak’s The Killers, and Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, among others.