MTSU professor’s free film-noir community le...

MTSU professor’s free film-noir community lecture series begins Feb. 1

Helford film noir lectures promo

The MTSU community can dig into a free lecture series this spring that exposes cinema’s most shadowy genre to the light of day.

Dr. Elyce Helford

Dr. Elyce Helford

Dr. Elyce Helford, a professor of English at MTSU, will deepen participants’ understanding of the film noir genre of the 1940s and 1950s with “An Introduction to Film Noir,” lectures scheduled for the first Thursday of each month beginning Feb. 1 and continuing through May.

The starting time for each lecture is 6:30 p.m.

Film noir is a genre of moviemaking characterized by pessimism, violence, seductive women and perilous action that often but doesn’t necessarily include private detectives.

Dept of English logoIn each session, Helford will address a central element of film noir in a brief talk, followed by a screening of a classic noir film in the second-floor board room of Linebaugh Public Library, located at 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,” Eddie Muller, host of “Noir Alley” on Turner Classic Movies, wrote in an essay for, “Low Company, High Style: The Eternal Allure of Film Noir.”

The discussion topics and films for each date are:

• Thursday, Feb. 1: “Film Noir’s Origins,” followed by “Crossfire,” a 1947 film starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame.
• Thursday, March 1: “The New Look,” followed by “The Big Combo,” a 1955 movie starring Cornel Wilde and Richard Conte.
• Thursday, April 5: “The Femme Fatale,” followed by “Double Indemnity,” a 1944 film starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray and Edward G. Robinson.
• Thursday, May 3: “The End of an Era,” followed by “Touch of Evil,” a 1958 movie starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and the director, Orson Welles, with Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

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 lecture series was originally set to begin in January but was rescheduled.

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

— Gina K. Logue (