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Bad Boys and Dangerous Dames: The Thriller, the Detective Novel, and Film Noir

ENGL 103.602
crosslisted as: CINE 103
instructor(s):
W 5-8

Often featuring lone heroes chasing criminals through a crowded city, crime fiction of the thirties captured the cultural anxieties wrought by urban industrialism and the Great Depression.  By the forties, many of these texts were adapted into classic noir films that captured a war, and later postwar, sensibility.  This course begins with an examination of the thrillers and detective novels of the thirties and then traces their adaptation into film noir.  While developing close readings of these texts and films, we will also contextualize these works with secondary readings that offer a range of different perspectives from historical, to formalist, to feminist.  Texts and corresponding films include: Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, Graham Greene’s A Gun for Sale and the film adaptation A Gun for Hire, and Greene’s The Third Man. Students will be responsible for Blackboard postings, two short papers and a longer final paper.