LA Noir

By Maya L.
April 23, 2019

LA Noir offered a glimpse into the murky world of film noir, a style of storytelling known for its mystery, crime, and cynical characters. During this Interim program, students gained an understanding of the more detailed aspects of film noir, from the basics of 1930s and 40s fashion to the visual elements of film noir, such as the unique role of lighting in these movies.


After becoming familiar with one of James M. Cain’s novels, The Postman Always Rings Twice, students enjoyed two noir films based on other books of his, Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity, both of which feature a manipulative femme fatale, scandalous affairs, and, of course, murder. A bus tour of Cain’s Los Angeles took students to the sites of iconic scenes from these movies.  


Sandy de Grijs and Katie Sivers, who have run this Interim for about five years now, view this experience as a fun way to introduce students to old Hollywood while also weaving in visual art, history, film, and classic literature. “It's nice because we're right here, and sometimes we don't think about all the history that this place has,” said Ms. Sivers. “I would hope [students] come to appreciate older films, you know, and maybe that it sparks an interest in seeing more of them,” added Ms. de Grijs.


The highlight for many was the Hollywood Forever Cemetery tour on the last day of the class. A tour guide with a passion for old Hollywood led students throughout the cemetery and described the lives of various movie stars, directors, and icons as she identified their graves. These stars included Rudolph Valentino, John Huston, Tyrone Power, Judy Garland, and many more.