MTSU professor hosts film noir discussion, screening event at Linebaugh Public library

Photo and story by Daniel-Shaw Remeta / Contributing Writer 

Elyce Helford, an MTSU English professor, hosted an Introduction to Film Noir discussion and screening event in the second floor board room of Murfreesboro’s Linebaugh Public Library Thursday.

The session was the first of four to take place on the first Thursday of each month until May and focused on the origins of film noir in World War II. Helford led Thursday’s discussion and will be leading the entire series.

“I teach film noir every couple of years at MTSU as a course because I am very interested in it,” she said. “When I talked to (Branch Librarian) Carol Ghattas, I said, ‘What’s going on at the library? Maybe there’s something I can do to bring what I do to a more popular audience and an audience that may come from a very different place than students.'”

Thursday’s discussion revolved around World War II and how it impacted the style that is known as film noir. The genre is often characterized by dark and moody crime thrillers. Helford summarized many of the hardships Americans faced in the 1940s and 1950s that helped shape the style, and she indicated that events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor raised a desire for films that reflected American cultural anxiety.

“Noir flourished in a time when there was kind of this A- and B-film thing going on, and it was because of the war effort,” Helford said. “The style was perfect for the B-film because if the scene is dark, that’s cheaper. And, it covers many flaws in the films.”

Following the discussion was a screening of the 1947 noir film “Crossfire” and a DVD giveaway. The next session will be on March 1 and will address the “noir look” and will also feature a screening of the 1955 film “The Big Combo.” There will be two more sessions on April 5 and May 3, which are free and open to the public.

“I found out about this through the library website and didn’t really know what to expect, but I have a strong interest in noir films,” said Ian Stackhouse, a Murfreesboro resident and participant in Thursday night’s session. “I’ll probably come back for the other ones. I think this is something film advocates could find extremely interesting.”

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