Take a trip to the dark side with a new five-part monthly lecture series premiering January 18 at Toronto’s Revue Cinema entitled Roads to Perdition: The Dark Allure of Film Noir. The series is presented in partnership with Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education and its Programs for 50+.
Toronto critic, broadcaster, and writer Kevin Courrier will explore the origins of the Film Noir genre and its themes, and trace its influence to this day. Courrier, who also co-produces and hosts music documentaries for CBC Radio 2, is returning to the Revue for his third round of lectures and will speak on the 70-year longevity of the moody genre.
The Film Noir name was coined by French critics to describe movies that were dark, somber, and cynical. The moniker fit perfectly for the films, derived from hardboiled crime fiction, that began appearing in the 1940s. The Maltese Falcon (1941), based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, directed by John Huston, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre, is considered the first.
“Think of the period when these movies emerge. You had the war-effort movies that were all about people making sacrifices, standing behind one another, the very strong positive drive, and you suddenly have this dark, gloomy underworld, where you have crime and corruption, and the heroes, as well as the villains, are cynical and disillusioned,” Courrier says.
“So there’s a darkness to these pictures that somehow reminds people that things are not quite as bright and sunny as they think they’re going to be.”
Series tickets are available at the box office. Single tickets are $10 for seniors and Revue members; $12 for non-members; or save up to $10 by purchasing a Roads to Perdition film card that gives access to all five lectures for $40. Full schedule of films below. For more information, visit revuecinema.ca.
Lecture #1: Detours in the Road: Tuesday, January 18, 7 p.m.
Introducing the basic themes of Film Noir and a discussion of why the genre emerged in the post-war mood of the late forties. The idea of fatalism and dark impulses are explored. Films: Detour, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Double Indemnity.
Lecture #2: The Wrong Man: Tuesday, February 15, 7 p.m.
Good men are often wrongly accused of bad deeds in Film Noir. The fate of those who are assumed guilty until proven innocent is examined. Films: The Woman in the Window, The Big Clock, Strangers on a Train, and The Wrong Man.
Lecture #3: Femme Fatale: Tuesday, March 22, 7 p.m.
No film could rightly be considered a noir without a femme fatale who draws the unwitting man into a web of deceit and murder. Films: Out of the Past, The Maltese Falcon, and Gun Crazy.
Lecture #4: The Killer Inside Me: Tuesday, April 19, 7 p.m.
While some men are innocently drawn into perdition, others are driven to it by their hidden darker impulses. Films: On Dangerous Ground, The Big Heat, and Shadow of a Doubt.
Lecture #5: The Road Goes On… Tuesday, May 24, 7 p.m.
The final lecture looks at the legacy of Film Noir in contemporary cinema and how its tropes have survived and been altered to fit the times. Films: Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, Basic Instinct, The Big Lebowski, and Mulholland Drive.
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