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Foreign Film Noir in the Original

by Art Gottliebm gavin

If you’re reading this article, you certainly know that letters attached to people’s names denote their occupation, special skills or talents. For example:
M.D. means doctor, ESQ. means attorney, Ph.D. means “doctorate in a specific subject,” and SAG means screen
actor’s guild. In the case of Michael Gavin (a retired doctor), he traded M.D. for a new set of letters we all recognize.
For the last ten years, Gavin’s involvement with OLLI has been a major part of his life. He has taught five film classes and three art history classes; and this year he has devised a new one. Titled NORDIC NOIR, it will consist of foreign “film noir” productions in their original language - with sub-titles, of course. By showing special films the way they were first envisioned, acted, and directed, they are often darker, more mature, and handled more graphically than American films. In addition, the subject can be quite disturbing.
For those new to Gavin’s film classes, here is a brief description of what to expect. In his own words, Gavin’s commentary about the films reflects his personal opinion. He makes no pretense of having academic credentials or being trained in film criticism; his sole goal is to impart a mind-set in his students that will allow them to become their own critics--to watch films for reasons that go beyond the narrative story-line. Each class includes a film without intermission. But before it’s shown, Michael discusses special things to watch for, along with information about the film’s producer, director,
and actors. Afterwards he takes questions, and the class discusses whether or not the film met their expectations.
According to Gavin, “Foreign film noir evolves around four main elements: A pessimistic tone to the narrative, a sense of regret, isolation and/or alienation and frustrate longings in the main characters.” If all of this sounds fascinating, take a hint and enroll now! Film classes are exceedingly popular, and in the past Gavin’s classes have reached their quota long before they start.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSULB
Building HS&D, Rooms 100 & 101
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840-5609
Phone: 562-985-8237 Fax: 562-985-8213
Web site:

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