Stu­dents watched black-and-white movies at the CCA. | Pixabay

“Film Noir,” the last Center for Con­structive Alter­native lecture series of the year, explored a genre of film char­ac­terized by its bleak energy. Its impact on film and culture at large is more present than ever, according to pro­fessor R. Barton Palmer of Clemson University.

“Film noir was not a self-con­scious artistic movement,” Palmer said. “The film­makers involved did not set up col­lec­tively to produce films that went against the Hol­lywood grain.”

In his overview of the genre fol­lowing a showing of John Huston’s 1941 film “The Maltese Falcon” on Sunday evening, Palmer explored how film noir became a popular genre that is still present today. He detailed the rise of these films after World War II and how film noir was explored first by French cul­tural move­ments and sociologists.

Monday’s showing was Robert Siodmak’s “The Killers” (1946). Fol­lowing was a cin­e­matog­raphy lecture by Alain Silver, a director, pro­ducer, and film his­torian. Silver went on to describe and analyze more than 70 dif­ferent film stills from noir movies.

“I sub­scribe to the concept of film noir as a movement, some­thing that cuts across genre and is kind of like Italian neo­re­alism or the French new wave.” Silver said. “In his 1972 essay ‘Notes on Film Noir,’ Paul Schrader asserted that ‘film noir was first of all: style – because it worked out his con­flicts visually.’”

The lec­turers said the French new wave movement was pivotal in film history, orig­i­nating in Paris in the 1950s. It empha­sized exis­tential sto­ry­telling and avant-garde directing techniques.

Tuesday’s showing was Jacques Tourneur”s “Out of the Past” (1947). The evening’s lecture was by host of TV net­works Noir Alley and Turner Classic Movies, Eddie Muller. His dis­cussion on “Ele­ments of Classic Noir” empha­sized the impor­tance of keeping these films alive.

“I want to make sure that these films are watched by suc­cessive gen­er­a­tions,” Muller said. “I don’t want young people to turn away from black-and-white movies. I don’t want them to assume that that’s all in the past and it has no ref­erence or any­thing to what’s hap­pening today or in the future.”

Wednesday’s showing was Otto Preminger’s “Laura” (1944). It was fol­lowed by American Cinema Foun­dation film critic Titus Techera’s lecture, “Beauty, Tragedy, Law, and Advertising.” 

The CCA will end today with a faculty round­table fea­turing Pro­fessor and Chairman of History Mark Kalthoff, Chairman and Pro­fessor of Theatre James Brandon, Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of English  Brent Cline, and Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Spanish and Department Chair Todd K. Mack.

“I have really enjoyed the CCA so far,” freshman Kara Miller said. “It’s great to hear such intel­ligent speakers talk about these films. Cinema and film are newer forms of media that we can consume and dis­cover new things about. It opens up an oppor­tunity for stu­dents to learn.”