The Return of Noir City Hollywood
March 7, 2017
It's almost time for Noir City Hollywood 19! This year, the dark and devious extravaganza is sandwiched between UCLA Film and Television Archive's Festival of Preservation (they actually overlap two evenings) and the TCM Classic Film Festival. As you may have noticed, I love film festivals, particularly ones celebrating classic movies and genres/styles I enjoy, like noir.
After reviewing the Noir City Hollywood 19 schedule, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to see pretty much everything programmed this year, which is rather astounding for me, because I am quite picky with what I watch. It's also a bit daunting...and a tad unfortunate for my sleep schedule and sanity, given the fact that I have three film festivals on the docket this Spring, all roughly within a month of each other.
Once again, Noir City Hollywood will be presenting a double feature each evening at the Egyptian from Friday, March 24 to Sunday, April 2. Like the 2017 Festival of Preservation slate, several titles I've never heard of grace the Noir City program this year - many not available on DVD - and that alone piques my interest. Overall, I'd say only three of the pictures listed are ones I've watched before, and if those films would have been scheduled together, I may have had a chance for a night's respite. (I honestly don't think that will be the case, though.)
Great banner from the Film Noir Foundation's Facebook page.
For the most part, it appears the screenings are grouped by release date, and many are A-B bills, which explains why the few movies I have already seen are playing first; they are the larger productions and more well-known titles, for sure. I believe it was last year that either Eddie Muller or Alan K. Rode (both from the Film Noir Foundation) declared that they prefer pairing the films that way, when they can, to mirror what audiences would have seen back in the 1940s and 50s. It would be quite clever if some of these pictures indeed played on the same bill, wouldn't it?
Below are some of the films I'm looking forward to the most at Noir City Hollywood 19. Basically, this is the entire lineup minus three or four titles, since I plan on attending almost every evening. I'm a little noir/B-movie obsessed, what can I say?
Friday, March 24
Quiet Please, Murder (1942)
Quiet Please, Murder, the second half of the opening night double bill, stars George Sanders, takes place partially at the LA Public Library and has never been released on DVD. Done deal. (Note: A new 35mm print of 1942's This Gun for Hire opens the festival, and though I've seen that one, it's been several years, and...I'll probably catch both, who am I kidding.)
George Sanders doing George Sanders film noir things.
Saturday, March 25
Address Unknown (1944)
Title unknown. William Cameron Menzies-directed pictures always intrigue me; Menzies was a celebrated production designer before making the leap to directing, so his movies usually boast some delectable imagery and style, at the very least. Plus, the Cinematheque's website touts Address Unknown's cinematography by Rudolph Maté, so that must be stunning. (Note: Fritz Lang's 1944 noir Ministry of Fear precedes this selection. Another title I've seen previously and wouldn't mind re-watching...)
Sunday, March 26
Lady on a Train (1945)
I'm not a big Deanna Durbin fan, but this movie co-stars Dan Duryea, who was basically born to act in films noir.
"Man (Oh! Man) Hunt!"
Escape in the Fog (1945)
From the Cinematheque's website: "An army nurse (Nina Foch) is terrified by a fog-shrouded dream in which she witnesses a trio of men committing murder on the Golden Gate Bridge. Good thing it’s all a dream … until the victim asks her out on a date!" What?! Is this like a Weekend at Bernie's (1989) scenario? Must find out.
Monday, March 27
Behind Green Lights (1946)
This yarn about political corruption in a Midwestern city hasn't been released on DVD, nor has it been theatrically screened in several decades. Those two pieces of info would usually make the picture a no-brainer for me, but unfortunately this evening's program conflicts with the final night of the Festival of Preservation (which is also a noir screening). Though I know it's not the same, my research uncovered Behind Green Lights in full on the Internet Archive, so...decisions, decisions. In all honesty, this may be the only Noir City Hollywood 19 night I skip, but at least it would be for another noir; I should totally get a pass for that, right?
Looks like they used green lights - or just green colors - on the poster too.
Tuesday, March 28
"Long-lost noir," death under suspicious circumstances, directed by John Farrow and an Asian smuggling ring?! Where do I sign up?
Another rarity, like its screening companion Calcutta, that's never been released on DVD. "This down-and-dirty B movie compresses a jailbreak, adultery and uxoricide into a breakneck story with a startling denouement," reads the Cinematheque's entry for Backlash. All of those words sound enticing (though I did have to look up what uxoricide meant), and they all go down inside 66 minutes. Perfection.
Behind Green Lights, 2?
Wednesday, March 29
The Accused (1948)
Spinster college professor Loretta Young kills an amorous student in self-defense. Does this mean we'll see shades of feisty pre-Code Young? Here's hoping.
The Hunted (1948)
This is a Poverty row picture, which I generally never turn down. If I stay for The Accused, though, it's going to be a long night - in terms of running time - so I hope the "clever, ambiguous twist on the typical femme fatale story" is worth it! (It probably is. Plus: the poster.)
Whoa, steer clear of her!
Thursday, March 30
Chicago Deadline (1949)
Another exceedingly rare picture, also never put out on DVD. Chicago Deadline stars Donna Reed, who portrays a good girl "gone wrong." I'm a big fan of Reed's, especially when she plays against type, so this is a must-see.
I Was a Shoplifter (1950)
Another title never released on DVD (how many is that now?), this time featuring young Tony Curtis AND Rock Hudson. I wasn't sold initially, but I think those two names sealed the deal.
OK, this promo piece has me a little more excited for I Was a Shoplifter.
Friday, March 31
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
Noir-wise, angry Dana Andrews is always a (slightly dangerous) treat, and Gene Tierney is always a welcome presence. Plus, the script was penned by the great Ben Hecht (His Girl Friday, Notorious, etc).
The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)
Evelyn Keyes had a definite saucy side (in real life, too), and here she plays a woman smuggling jewels from Cuba...who then unknowingly spreads smallpox around Manhattan and finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her own sister. Yup. This sounds slightly bonkers, particularly the smallpox part.
Shot on the spot? I hope that means New York, and not the ledge Evelyn Keyes appears to be standing on.
Saturday, April 1
The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)
Father Knows Best's Jane Wyatt tackles a rare femme fatale role in The Man Who Cheated Himself. Besides Wyatt, the cast looks strong - Lee J. Cobb, John Dall - and I'm always down for some great San Francisco locations. (Seriously, 1950s San Francisco was made for noir.)
What a tag line!
Iron Man (1951)
I'm 99.9998% sure this film played within the last two years (if not at Noir City, then another festival at the Egyptian). I didn't attend that screening - whenever it was - but since Iron Man appears rather rare, I probably shouldn't skip out on it again, right?
Sunday, April 2
The Big Heat (1953)
The Big Heat is another film I've seen before - and on the big screen, too. But I think the sizzling trio that is Gloria Grahame-Glenn Ford-Fritz Lang is basically impossible to pass up.
Wicked Woman (1953)
"Racy little B-movie" is all I need to know. Really. (And the poster below sold me.)
Very intriguing poster...
Attending Noir City Hollywood 19, too? If so, feel free to comment below with your top picks!