In this eighth installment of his series “How to Read A Film,” Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Yale College, presents four lectures on “A Half-Century of Film Noir Masterpieces.” All four lectures will be held on consecutive Sunday afternoons at 2 PM, starting on Sunday, June 23. Admission to each lecture is $7. The series kicks off with the 1931 proto-noir, Fritz Lang-directed classic “M.”
Mark Schenker offers another installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, with works by four directors who are new to his presentations at Best. In movies that range from Peter Lorre’s sensational performance as a serial killer in the early talkie “M” by German director Fritz Lang, through two Hollywood films of the classic noir period of the 1940’s-50’s, through the neo-noir of the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple,” the series covers more than a half-century of noir and showcases the acting talents (in addition to the 26-year-old Lorre) of Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frances McDormand and the great character actor M. Emmet Walsh.
From M.H.’s 1931 New York Times review of “M”:
Based on the fiendish killings which spread terror among the inhabitants of Düsseldorf in 1929, there is at the Mayfair a German-language pictorial drama with captions in English bearing the succinct title “M,” which, of course, stands for murder. It was produced in 1931 by Fritz Lang and, as a strong cinematic work with, remarkably fine acting, it is extraordinarily effective, but its narrative, which is concerned with a vague conception of the activities of a demented slayer and his final capture, is shocking and morbid. Yet Mr. Lang has left to the spectator’s imagination the actual commission of the crimes.
Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by clips from the films to illustrate the points he is making. His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.
Sun., June 23: “M” (1931)
Sun., June 30: “Murder, My Sweet” (1944)
Sun., July 7: “In a Lonely Place” (1950)
Sun., June 14: “Blood Simple” (1984)