The University of Iowa

"Film After Noir" is theme of new UI film series

January 24th, 2011

“Film After Noir,” a UI film series for the spring semester, will include screenings of films not generally associated with the classic 1941-1958 noir cycle.

The series will focus on films produced between 1950 and 2000 that display or revise elements of classic noir. The screenings are free and open to the public and will be held Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building through May 5.

Double Indemnity is the feature film at the next screening Jan. 27.

Double Indemnity (1944, 106 min.) is director Billy Wilder’s adaptation of James M. Cain’s 1936 novella of the same title about an insurance agent, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), whose chance encounter with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), the wife of a prospective customer, leads him to try to “crook the system” by conspiring with Phyllis to murder her husband and collect on an accident insurance policy. As the conspiracy unravels, Neff comes to understand the full meaning of the pact he and Phyllis had made to go “straight down the line” together. Wilder adapted Cain’s novella with Raymond Chandler, himself an author of the hard-boiled novel, The Big Sleep. Set in Los Angeles in 1938, Double Indemnity provides a relentlessly sordid perspective on lust, greed, betrayal, and murder. Paul Schrader put it well when he wrote that Double Indemnity played film noir for what it essentially was: small-time, unredeemed, unheroric. Neither pretty nor sentimental, DI was also the first film noir to be nominated for an Oscar, receiving seven nominations — without a win — in 1945.

Steven Ungar, UI professor of French and Comparative Literature, will lead post-screening discussions.

This series is sponsored by UI International Programs, the Institute for Cinema and Culture and the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, contact Ungar at or 319-335-0330.