If you’re in the mood to walk down some twisty cinematic alleys, you’re in luck. On August 31, the Emory Cinematheque series kicks off “Dark Streets & Dangerous Dames: Film Noir (1944-1996).” All screenings are free, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in White Hall, Room 205, on the Emory University campus.
The first film in the series, all in 35mm, is “Out of the Past” (1947, below), director Jacques Tourneur’s hard-boiled, sexy and gloriously downbeat movie that was wanly remade in 1987 as “Against All Odds.” It stars Robert Mitchum as a small-time private eye, Kirk Douglas as a caddish gambler and Jane Greer as the vixen who causes big trouble for both.
Here’s the rest of the series:
September 7: “Double Indemnity” (1944), one of the very first films noir, directed by Billy Wilder. Fred MacMurray (a revelation if you know him only from “My Three Sons”) plays an insurance salesman who gets lured by the anklet and platinum-blond hair of conniving Barbara Stanwyck. She convinces him that they’d be a great couple — so long as he helps her bump off her husband and collect on his life insurance policy. Edward G. Robinson co-stars as MacMurray’s concerned, suspicious colleague.
September 14: “The Killers” (1946), director Robert Siodmak’s original screen adaptation based on Ernest Hemingway’s very short story (it was remade in 1956 by Andrei Tarkovsky and in 1964 by Don Siegel). Burt Lancaster plays a former boxer targeted by two hit men, and Ava Gardner is his glamorous lady love.
September 21: “The Lady From Shanghai” (1947), directed by and starring Orson Welles as a fellow embroiled by platinum-haired Rita Hayworth (his soon-to-be ex-wife in real life) in a scheme involving murder and an insurance payout. Are you sensing a theme here?
September 28: “Sorry, Wrong Number” (1948), starring Barbara Stanwyck as a bossy, bedridden heiress who overhears, on the telephone, discussion about a contract on her life. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
October 5: “Pulp Fiction” (1994), which may seem a tiny stretch for the series … since its dangerous dames turn out to be decent (Uma Thurman’s dancing vamp, Mia Wallace) or hapless (Amanda Plummer’s rattled would-be robber, Honey Bunny).
October 12: “Detour” (1945), starring Tom Neal as a hitchhiker who gets involved with smouldering Ann Savage, who gets him involved with — you got it — a corpse and a scheme to get her hands on the dead man’s money.
October 19: “Chinatown” (1974), probably the best movie Roman Polanski ever made, and that’s saying a lot. With Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.
October 26: “The Blue Dahlia” (1946), starring Alan Ladd as a soldier home from the war who learns that his wife has been playing patty-cake with all kinds of other men. Veronica Lake co-stars in a film scripted by Raymond Chandler.
November 2: “Crossfire” (1947), based on a book by Richard Brooks (who later directed “In Cold Blood”) about the murder of a gay man by a psychotic soldier. The victim here becomes a Jewish man, thanks to Hollywood’s prudish production code. It stars Robert Young, Robert Mitchum and Gloria Grahame.
November 9: “Bound” (1996), a sizzling modern noir from the Wachowski Brothers, before they got lost inside their “Matrix” mythology. Jennifer Tilly plays a mobster’s moll who persuades neighbor Gina Gershon to help her steal some gangland money — and enjoy some steamy girl-on-girl action.
November 16: “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995), director Carl Franklin’s adaptation of Walter Mosley’s novel, starring Denzel Washington as private eye Easy Rollins and Don Cheadle as his very tightly wound pal, Mouse.
November 30: “Le Doulos” (1962), French director Jean-Pierre Melville’s homage to Hollywood noir, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, still hot from his turn in “Breathless” two years earlier.