NOIR CITY: the great San Francisco festival of film noir

Noir City 2017
I always look forward to the Noir City film fest, which gets underway in San Francisco this week. Noir City is the annual festival of the Film Noir Foundation, spearheaded by its founder and president Eddie Muller. The Foundation preserves movies from the traditional noir period that would otherwise be lost. Noir City often plays newly restored films and movies not available on DVD. And we get to watch them in a vintage movie palace (San Francisco’s Castro Theatre) with a thousand other film fans.

The theme of this year’s festival is the Heist Movie, Noir City is presenting a wonderful array of heist movies from the classic American film noir period, foreign noirs and an especially healthy selection of neo-noirs. Being noir, you might not expect many of these heists to end well. And some are from noir’s Perfect Crime sub-genre – they’re going to get away with the elaborately planned big heist EXCEPT FOR ONE THING.

Noir City runs January 20-29. To see the this year’s Noir City program and buy tickets, go here.

On Noir City’s first weekend:

  • The Asphalt Jungle: As long as things go according to plan… John Huston directed a marvelous cast (Sterling Hayden, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, Jean Hagen, John McIntire). And even Louis Calhern knows that Marilyn Monroe isn’t going to stick around as his moll.
  • Violent Saturday: a completely overlooked film from one of my favorite directors that I hadn’t seen until Eddie Muller programmed it for this festival. Filmed in the bright Arizona desert with CinemaScope and De Luxe color, the story is plenty noir.
  • Four Ways Out: Saturday night, Noir City goes goes Italian with the last script written by screenwriter Federico Fellini before he started directing. Four guys pull a heist, and it goes bad four different ways.
  • Big Deal on Madonna Street, the funniest film in the festival, with an Italian gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Watch for a 34-year-old pre-Fellini Marcello Mastroianni.
  • Rififi: This French classic is the top heist film ever and pioneering in its use of real time. After the team is assembled and the job is plotted, the actual crime unfolds in real-time – over thirty minutes of nerve wracking silence.
  • The Big Risk: It’s a highlight because it’s a French noir starring the bloodhound-visaged Lino Ventura that I have NOT seen, so I’ll be going to Noir City myself on Sunday.

And midweek, at Noir City:

  • The rarely-seen Once a Thief (Alain Delon, trying to keep Ann-Margret while being hunted by Van Heflin) and The Sicilian Clan (with the neo-noir trifecta of Delon, Ventura and Jean Gabin), both on Wednesday evening, January 25.

I’ll be writing about Noir City’s tremendous final weekend. Stay tuned.

VIOLENT SATURDAY
VIOLENT SATURDAY

TCM’s “Summer of Darkness” – a treasure for fans of film noir

tcm summer darkness
Turner Classic Movies has announced a CAN’T MISS summer film noir series.  The “Summer of Darkness” will be hosted by Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller – the Czar of Noir. Here’s the complete schedule.

TCM will be presenting 24 hours of film noir on each Friday in June and July.  Every week, Eddie Muller himself will present four movies in prime time in TCM’s “Friday Night Spotlight.” Muller has penned this introductory article.

The Film Noir Foundation performs an invaluable mission:  preserving and restoring classic film noir that would otherwise be lost to us and to posterity.  And Muller and the Foundation host one of my absolute film festivals every winter in San Francisco – Noir City.  Noir City has been expanding into other cities.  Muller is a respected film historian, and his DVD commentaries are excellent.  Here’s your chance to experience the Czar of Noir on television.

I’ll be calling out specific recommendations from the Summertime of Darkness in my regular Movies to See Right Now posts on Fridays, as well as writing some special posts on my favorite Overlooked Noir, including Woman on the Run and Elevator to the Gallows.  Stay tuned.

Noir City: the great San Francisco festival of film noir

Rififi
I always look forward to the Noir City film fest, which is underway in San Francisco this week.  Noir City is the annual festival of the Film Noir Foundation, spearheaded by its founder and president Eddie Muller.  The Foundation preserves movies from the traditional noir period that would otherwise be lost. Noir City often plays newly restored films and movies not available on DVD.  Here’s one of my experiences from a recent Noir City

Film noir, the genre of cynical stories that are starkly photographed to emphasize the darkness of the plots, originated in the US in the 1940s but was named by the French.  So it’s fitting that this year’s Noir City goes international, sampling film noir from France, Argentina, Mexico, Great Britain, Japan, Spain, Norway and Germany, along with some American noir set in the far East and South of the Border.  I’ll be checking out the Argentinian classics Never Open that Door and Hardly a Criminal, which are not available on DVD.

To see the this year’s Noir City program and buy tickets, go here.

TCM’s June feast of noir

Humphrey Bogart in THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

It’s more than a film fest, it’s a feast of film noir.

This June, Turner Classic Movies’ Friday Night Spotlight will focus on Noir Writers.  The guest programmer and host will be San Francisco’s Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation.  The Foundation preserves movies from the traditional noir period that would otherwise be lost.  It also sponsors Noir City, an annual festival of film noir in San Francisco, which often plays newly restored films and movies not available on DVD.  (My favorite part is Noir City’s Thursday evening Bad Girl Night featuring its most memorable femmes fatale.)

Muller (the Czar of Noir) has selected films from the work of noir novelists.  Friday night, he kicks off with films from the novels of Dashiell Hammett: the 1931 and more famous 1941 versions of The Maltese Falcon, plus the 1936 version (Satan Met a Lady) and After the Thin Man and The Glass Key.  (Muller informs us that Hammett pronounced his first name da-SHEEL.)

On June 14, Muller continues with the work of David Goodis, The Burglar, The Burglars, The Unfaithful, Shoot the Piano Player and Nightfall.  (You may have seen Goodis’ Dark Passage with Bogie and Bacall.)

On June 21, we’ll see films from the novels of Jonathan Latimer (Nocturne, They Won’t Believe Me) and James M. Cain (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice).

TCM and the Czar of Noir wrap up on June 28 with movies from the novels of Cornell Woolrich (The Leopard Man, Deadline at Dawn) and Raymond Chandler (Murder My Sweet, The Big Sleep, Lady in the Lake, Strangers on a Train).

These two movies aren’t part of the Friday night series, but on June 11, TCM features two of the nastiest noirs:  Detour and The Hitchhiker.

Set your DVR and settle in for dramatic shadows, sarcastic banter and guys in fedoras making big mistakes for love, lust and avarice.

Anne Bancroft and Aldo Ray in NIGHTFALL