The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center’s film noir series is back this month with three movies from the late 1940s that more than live up to their tough-sounding titles: T-Men, Raw Deal and He Walked By Night.

“You’re going to be on the edge of your seat. It’s great storytelling,” said Paul Karasik, who picks the films and hosts the screenings for the almost annual event.

“These movies are not for kids,” he added. “The themes in them are very adult. They’re tough movies.”

Film Society executive director Richard Paradise said the series, which begins April 10 and runs for three Wednesdays, has attracted a loyal Island following over the years who turn out for whatever Mr. Karasik has chosen to show.

Mr. Karasik is an aficionado of film noir. — Ray Ewing

The fast-paced, often violent action pictures in this year’s series were all photographed in lustrous black and white by the pathmaking cinematographer John Alton, who shared some of his techniques in a 1949 book titled Painting with Light.

“He literally wrote the book,” said Mr. Karasik, who owns a copy.

“We think of these noir pictures as being very dark but in fact, they are about light — about light going through the celluloid and being projected on the screen,” he added.

Among a long list of film credits that ended with Elmer Gantry in 1960, Mr. Alton shot the Academy Award-winning ballet sequence for An American in Paris (1951), to which director Greta Gerwig recently paid homage in the I’m Just Ken dance number in last year’s Barbie.

Mr. Alton’s techniques, which included meticulous preparation with director Anthony Mann, enabled the pair to turn out high-quality pictures on a shoestring, Mr. Karasik said.

“They’re extraordinarily well-crafted pictures, which is kind of a surprise because they were made for one of the cheapest studios... with no budget to speak of, and yet the craftsmanship is absolutely first rate,” he said.

Mr. Karasik’s film center series begins April 10 with T-Men, a 1947 collaboration with the U.S. Treasury Department that stars Dennis O’Keefe as a treasury investigator battling gangs in a counterfeiting investigation. Female characters get more screen time in the jail-break saga Raw Deal (1948) showing April 17.

“[Raw Deal] would pass the Bechdel test,” Mr. Karasik said, referring to cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s assessment that asks whether a film has at least two female characters who interact with each other without talking about a man.

“It’s one of the very few noir pictures narrated by a woman, [actress] Claire Trevor,” he said.

He Walked By Night, also from 1948, closes the series April 24. Starring a young Richard Basehart — later known to countless TV watchers for the 1960s series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea — as well as Jack Webb, the cops-and-killers tale may have been an influence on Mr. Webb’s later series Dragnet.

All screenings start at 7:30 p.m., preceded by complimentary pinot noir and dark chocolate in the lobby.

Mr. Karasik, who traces his love of old movies to a screening of Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane when he was 12, said no viewing experience rivals seeing a film in a theatre, surrounded by fellow audience members.

“There’s nothing that replicates the experience of the lights going down in a movie theatre,” he said.

“Everyone’s talking and eating popcorn . . . and then everyone settles down and everyone gets quiet together,” Mr. Karasik said.

“It’s like being in church and praying together — that communal experience of expectation [and] that anticipation of it happening,” he added.

Film noir series audiences also will be the first to see a new pre-show trailer created for the film center by Mr. Karasik and Luna Yuan, one of his students at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“It’s remarkable to see my own drawings come to life on the screen,” he said.