College Town Film Series to Screen 'Women of the Night: A Film Noir Exploration'

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | College of Arts and Sciences

Macon, GA


Macon’s film community kicks off 2018 with the 20th annual College Town Film Series, opening Jan. 25 at the historic Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon. The three-film series, sponsored by Wesleyan College, Mercer University, and Middle Georgia State University has the theme “Women of the Night: A Film Noir Exploration.”

All three films start at 7:30 p.m. at the Douglass Theatre and will be followed by discussions with the audience. Dates for the screenings are Jan. 25, Feb. 1, and Feb. 8. Admission is free for Middle Georgia State, Mercer, and Wesleyan students with valid ID cards. For all others, general admission is $5 and includes free popcorn and a drink. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

In “Notes on Film Noir,” film critic Paul Schrader explains, in the 1940s, “Hollywood decided to paint it black.” Hollywood, previously known for its bright and lighthearted escapist cinema, suddenly changed its tone. Instead of building movies out of layers of light, Hollywood began layering shadows across shadows. Post-war French film critics called these movies film noir (black film). These films were not only visually darker, but also thematically darker. They featured cynical heroes living fatalistic lives in corrupt worlds. While complicated male heroes led most noirs, equally complex women frequently matched them on screen. This year’s movie selections are noirs that boast strong, richly developed female characters.

The series opens on Thursday, Jan. 25, with director Orson Welles’s 1947 film “The Lady from Shanghai.” Rita Hayworth stars as Elsa Bannister, a femme fatale who draws Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) into a claustrophobic world of guilty desire and questionable behavior. The movie culminates with the now-famous house-of-mirrors sequence, which powerfully visualizes two of film noir’s recurring motifs: psychological entrapment and shifting identities. Professor Tom Ellington of Wesleyan College will introduce the film and lead discussion afterward.

Director Carl Franklin’s 1995 neo-noir “Devil in a Blue Dress” will show on Thursday, Feb. 1. Jennifer Beals stars. Neo-noir films are movies made after the film noir era, which revived the look and themes of film noir. “Devil in a Blue Dress” adapts a work from Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mystery series to do so. It stays true to noir form by featuring a complicated male "hero," yet the film also provides an intriguing window into the world of black and bi-racial women in LA in the 1940s. The film navigates the ways in which sex and racial identity might dangerously intersect with power, corruption, and violence. Professor Michele Beverly of Mercer University will introduce the film and lead discussion afterward.

The series closes on Thursday, Feb. 8, with Joseph H. Lewis’s 1950 “Gun Crazy,” a film that the National Film Preservation Board has selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. “Gun Crazy” tells the story of Bart Tare (John Dall) and Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), doomed lovers who share an overwhelming enthusiasm for guns and a talent for robbery. Cummins shines as Annie Laurie Starr, a noir heroine who seduces both Bart and the audience with her charismatic energy and alarmingly upfront ambition to live a lucrative life of crime. Professor Patrick Brennan of Middle Georgia State University will introduce the film and lead discussion afterward.

For more information, please contact Dr. Bob Burnham: or 478-471-2999.