“The Maltese Falcon” and “The Big Sleep” are two of the many noir novels and films explored in The Golden Age of Mysteries, a one-evening community education class at Truckee Meadows Community College on Jan. 29.
The class will examine works by crime and suspense novelists of the 1930s and 1940s and the films that were adapted from their books. Clips from some of the movies of the period will be shown.
Instructor for the class is Reno mystery writer Mark S. Bacon, a lifelong fan of mystery novels and films. His latest book is “Desert Kill Switch.” The purpose of the class is to review some of the classics of the genre and to expose attendees to many superb, and sometimes overlooked, crime writers, stories and films of the past.
“Mystery readers may be familiar with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler,” says Bacon, “but many other talented writers contributed to the period. We’ll explore the works of Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy B. Hughes, Ross Macdonald and other novelists whose brooding, dark stories make wonderful reading.”
The terms “noir” and “film noir” were coined in France in the 1940s to refer to American crime movies. The French word noir, for black or dark, refers to the gloomy plots and cynical characters in books such as “Double Indemnity” and “I Married a Dead Man.” Noir stories contrast with the less gritty and more polite British mysteries by authors such as Agatha Christie and G.K. Chesterton.
According to Bacon, a former journalism instructor at UNR, “There are enough classic detective, crime and suspense stories in print to keep avid readers busy for years. I will also talk about where to find good editions of these works.”
Some new and established publishers are reprinting noir novels, some of which had been virtually unavailable. In addition, film restoration projects, such as one at UCLA, are remastering and restoring examples of film noir.
The course is being offered through TMCC’s community education program. To register call (775) 829-9010. Cost for the course is $39.