English grads host semester film series

Murder, blackmail and sex are ways to sell a movie today but moviegoers were treated to their fill of such things back in the 1940s and ‘50s with gritty detective films. Northern Kentucky University students will get a chance to experience at least one of those films during the Association of English Graduate Students Film and Literature Series.

The first film in the series is “The Big Sleep” and it stars one of the unlikely stars during the time, Humphrey Bogart.
“I chose to host a film [series] because I believe in cultivating an intellectual community at NKU,” English professor and AEGS adviser Andrea Gazzaniga said. “This series focuses on literature and film — the adaptation of great works of literature into film.”

Gazzaniga’s interests in both her teaching and research are rooted in film and literature. She says it “is a perfect opportunity to share my experience with the wider community. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to discuss great films with a smart and engaged audience.”

The film is notable for being an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s hard boiled detective novel featuring his most beloved character Philip Marlowe — a tough talking private investigator with an honor code that is often out of place in the corrupt world he occupies.

“The Big Sleep” features Bogart as Marlowe, who also depicted fellow detective novelist Dashiell Hammett’s character Sam Spade in the film version of “The Maltese Falcon.” Bogart plays opposite of his wife, Lauren Bacall, in “The Big Sleep” and most of the film’s seductiveness comes from their onscreen chemistry.

The film’s plot is convoluted, confusing and contradictory, but the point of the movie isn’t plot. The greatest impact of a film, like this one, is the mood it creates as well as the seductive visual style and smart, snappy dialogue. This way of movie making is defined as film noir.

Film noir is a style of film that flourished in America just after World War II. It generally depicts the feelings of alienation, corruption and existential despair felt after the war.

Screenings begin Aug. 31 and will conclude Nov. 30. The series will be held in the Griffin Hall Digitorium 7 p.m. with free admission.
For more information about the film series and other screenings, contact Andrea Gazzaniga at gazzanigaa1@nku.edu.