Film noir symposium set for Feb. 6

A symposium on French “film noir” (dark film) will be held Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Missouri Southern State University.

Sponsored by the Harrison and June Kash International Film Society, the event will feature a presentation by Dr. Alan Singerman, professor emeritus of French at Davidson College in North Carolina.

Singerman will speak on “French Film Noir” in Context” at 11 a.m. in Plaster Hall’s Cornell Auditorium. He will join Dr. Zak Watson and Dr. Bill Kumbier from MSSU’s Department of English and Philosophy at 3 p.m. in Billingsly Student Center’s Phelps Theater for a panel discussion centering on the genre of film noir, with a special focus on film noir as a style and as a form of narrative.

At 7 p.m. in Cornell Auditorium, Singerman will introduce and show the 1955 suspense classic “Diabolique.”

Film noir is a type of film popularized by Hollywood in the postwar period but whose classical version appeared from about 1940-58, with films by such celebrated directors as John Huston, Howard Hawkes, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder and Otto Preminger.

“No one can say whether it is a genre, a cycle, a style, or simply a ‘phenomenon,’ but it generally features crime stories with investigators, gangsters, femmes fatales, vulnerable males, and psychotic killers in dark, shadowy urban environments and seedy hotel rooms, bars, and nightclubs,” said Singerman. “The prevailing mood is cynical, pessimistic, and morally ambivalent, with a strong sense of alienation.”

“Diabolique,” directed by the celebrated French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, is set in a seedy private school, where the wife and mistress of the domineering and cruel head of the school plot his murder.

“They achieve their ends, but then the body disappears, and sightings of the dead husband, alive, begin to be reported,” said Singerman. “The denouement of the film is so unexpected and shocking that Clouzot begged spectators not to reveal it to their friends before they saw the film.”