Thursday, December 21, 2017

[228] MTSU professor to shine light on shadowy movies with free lecture series in 2018

MURFREESBORO — Celebrate the new year by taking cinema’s most shadowy genre out of the shadows and exposing it to the light of day.

Elyce Helford, a professor of English, will deepen our understanding of the film noir genre of the 1940s and 1950s with “An Introduction to Film Noir.” The free lectures are scheduled for the first Thursday of each month from January through April 2018.

Film noir is a genre of movie-making characterized by pessimism, violence, seductive women and perilous action, often, but not necessarily, including private detectives.

In each session, Helford will address a central element of film noir in a brief talk followed by the screening of a classic noir film in the second floor board room of Linebaugh Public Library, 105 W. Vine St. in Murfreesboro.

“The men and women of this sinister cinematic world are driven by greed, lust, jealousy and revenge, which leads inexorably to existential torment, soul-crushing despair and a few last gasping breaths in a rain-soaked gutter,” wrote Eddie Muller, host of “Noir Alley” on Turner Classic Movies.

The discussion topics and films for each date are:

  • Thursday, Jan. 4: Film Noir’s Origins, followed by “Crossfire,” a 1947 film starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame;
  • Thursday, Feb. 1: The New Look, followed by “The Big Combo,” a 1955 movie starring Cornel Wilde and Richard Conte;
  • Thursday, March 1: The Femme Fatale, followed by “Double Indemnity,” a 1944 film starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray and Edward G. Robinson;
  • Thursday, April 5: The End of an Era, followed by “Touch of Evil,” a 1958 movie starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and the director, Orson Welles.

Currently, Helford is completing a book on gender in the films of Hollywood director George Cukor. Among the courses she teaches at MTSU are “Gender and Film,” “Film Noir,” “Survey of Popular Culture,” “Literature and the Holocaust,” and “Introduction to Women’s Studies.”

The film noir lecture series is co-sponsored by the MTSU Department of English and Linebaugh Public Library. For more information, contact Helford at 615-898-5961 or

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