Summer is the time when Hollywood studios roll out bright and shiny CGI action flicks designed to appeal to every member of the family – here, and around the globe. But for classic film fans, this summer is all about darkness.
Each Friday in June and July, Turner Classic Movies is presenting 24-hour marathons of some of the most pessimistic stories ever told on film, with unhappy endings the rule rather than the exception. TCM’s nine-week, 121-movie series Summer of Darkness is already in its second week, with an expertly curated collection of proto-noir (1930s), noir (1940s-50s), and neo-noir (through present day) unspooling unedited, commercial free, and almost always in beautiful black-and-white.
Whatever their era, these films have one key component in common: most are infrequently broadcast, unavailable to stream on Netflix, and hard to find on DVD or Blu-ray. My advice: develop a persistent, summertime flu that strikes only on Fridays. Or better yet, quit your job, take up a life of crime, and steal one of the jumbo-sized TiVos with 3,000 hours of recording capacity, and then you and your significant hardboiled dude/duplicitous dame will have these films for evermore. (You can also watch most of them for seven days after broadcast on the Watch TCM streaming app on your computer, tablet, or phone, with hosted intros from Czar of Noir Eddie Muller.)
In addition, TCM is offering Into Darkness: Investigating Film Noir, a on-line course presented in conjunction with Indiana’s Ball State University. The nine-week eLearning class is taught by Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D., co-author of The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism, and is open to film fans around the world (including non-TCM subscribers, which is pretty cool).
NPR’s All Things Considered aired a piece today about the series, featuring correspondent Beth Accomando and yours truly. You can listen to that here. And Miguel Rodriguez and I discussed the on-line class with Dr. Rich Edwards and TCM staffer Shannon Clute on the Horrible Imaginings podcast, which is available here. (Rich and Shannon discuss all aspects of the class and how to get a certificate of completion, and I offer some commentary on how the course fits into TCM’s overall strategy.)
And finally, you can join your fellow classic film fans on Twitter by using the #NoirSummer hashtag and tweeting along to the films as they air with #TCMParty. And if you want to do your own at-home Noir cosplay, TCM has a full complement of fedoras, cigarette lighters, and cocktail accessories for sale on their website. There’s even a 1941 Lincoln Continental for sale so you can drive to and from your TV set (or heist) in classic style.
What more could you ask for?