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The French named the film noir, but they didn’t invent it. Although its roots were in ’30s American and French movies, the genre really flowered in late-’40s Hollywood, spurred on by post-World War II disillusionment and a new vision of the city as—in the words of one title—The Asphalt Jungle. Gangsters who were once merely ruthless were reborn as psychotic, and troubled teens joined the cast of characters, in revolt against the empty adult world. This all-day seminar ends at 5 p.m., which is really when it ought to begin, but the movies that film historian Max Alvarez will discuss are mostly set in the dark of night: The expressionistic play of shadows and artificial light is a noir trademark. Alvarez’s curriculum will be illustrated with film clips and include British, French, and Japanese films as well as American, but it emphasizes such Hollywood masters and mavericks as Anthony Mann, Samuel Fuller, Nicholas Ray, Joseph H. Lewis, Robert Siodmak— as well as the acclaimed directors who only sometimes lived by night, including Orson Welles, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, and Howard Hawks. Who knows, by the time the seminar is done, you might even understand the plot of The Big Sleep. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 19, at Ripley Center, Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. $96. (202) 357-3030. (Mark Jenkins)