The Noir City film fest, always one of the best Bay Area cinema experiences, 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 or streaming. And we get to watch them in a vintage movie palace (San Francisco’s Castro Theatre) with a thousand other film fans.
Eddie Muller, who you should recognize as host of Turner Classic Movie’s Noir Alley series, has programmed this year’s version as “Film Noir from A to B”. Back in the classic noir period of thw 1940s and early 1950s, filmgoers expected a double feaure – an “A” movie with big stars, followed by a shorter and less expensively-made “B” picture. Each evening of Noir City will feature A and B movies from the same year, starting with 1941 and ending with 1953. Trench coats and fedoras are not required (and no smoking, please), but, other than that, you’ll get the full retro experience in the period-appropriate Castro.
Noir City runs through next Sunday, February 4. To see the this year’s Noir City program and buy tickets, go here.
Many of the films in this year’s program are VERY difficult to find. The Man Who Cheated Himself, Destiny, Jealousy, The Threat and Quiet Please, Murder. The Man Who Cheated Himself has just been restored by the Film Noir Foundation.
My personal favorites on the program:
- I Wake Up Screaming (sorry – last Friday night): A very early noir with a stalker theme and a creepy performance by the tragic Laird Cregar.
- Shadow of a Doubt (sorry – last night): Set in Santa Rosa back when you could drive through it quickly, the ultra-sympathetic Theresa Wright starts connecting the dots that link her very favorite Cool Uncle (Joesph Cotten) to serial murders.
- Roadblock: I love the growly noir icon Charles McGraw as a mean heavie or a relentless copper. Here he plays against type as a super-straight sap turned to the dark side by the dame he falls for.
- The Blue Dahlia: The only original screenplay by the master of the hardboiled, Raymong Chandler. Alan Ladd returns from wartime service to find an especially disloyal wife. When she is murdered, the cops suspect him, and the mob is after him, but he does find Veronica Lake. (Digression: Were Ladd and Lake the shortest pair of romantic leads ever?)
To see the this year’s Noir City program and buy tickets, go here. Don’t miss out on Noir City’s bang up final weekend, with The Man Who Cheated Himself and Roadblock, The Big Heat and wickedly trashy Beverly Michaels in Wicked Woman.