My Picks for Noir City 18 in Hollywood
April 8, 2016
This year, about two weeks later than usual, Noir City will return to Hollywood for its 18th edition. Couple this event with the TCM Classic Film Festival, which pushed its dates back 3-4 weeks as well, and my cluttered iPhone calendar confirmed to me that, yes, I would be completing the equivalent of a film festival marathon the last half of April, with only a few days rest in between the two festivities.
In years past, with an overall schedule spanning almost three weeks, Noir City Hollywood usually operated 4-5 nights a week from the Egyptian Theater. However, this time around, with only 10 days to spare, the Egyptian will cater to the shady world of film noir every single evening of the festival, from Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 24. Though I live close to Hollywood, the hellish parking nightmare that possesses that part of town has actually prompted me to consider camping out in the courtyard of the Egyptian for three weeks just to avoid that madness, if such a move was allowed. (It isn't.)
Noir City San Francisco last year at the Castro Theater. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
For the last two months, I eagerly awaited the unveiling of the highly anticipated schedule for Noir City's Hollywood edition. In the meantime, I glanced over the San Francisco schedule (again...and again), trying to guess which movies would repeat in Hollywood, as a handful usually do each year. My first and only time attending the flagship event in the Bay Area was last January, and after glossing over the program for this year’s San Fran festival as soon as it was released, I became relived that I made it a point to attend last year; I had already seen about half of the selections playing at this year's celebration, and none of the others really caught my eye - well, not enough to make the trip north, at least. (Whereas last year I was stoked for the Joan Fontaine double feature and the first two Thin Man movies.)
I had missed back-to-back screenings of these films so many times over the years, but I finally made it at Noir City San Francisco last year. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
Some of you may know that I volunteer at the Egyptian Theater, the host venue for Noir City Hollywood and many other festivals, including TCMFF. In addition to perks like free movie tickets when we volunteer - as long as the screening isn't sold out - and delicious popcorn, volunteering at the American Cinematheque (which includes the Egyptian and Aero Theaters) allows a sneak peak at the coming month’s calendar via volunteer sign-ups, which we tend to receive at the end of each month. To my delighted surprise, the April schedule arrived in my inbox about a week early, which meant the Noir City program was enclosed too!
Well, I couldn't open that email fast enough. To add to the exhilaration, I was thoroughly thrilled that I recognized almost none of the films scheduled to screen - yes, a solid 70% I hadn't heard of before. As is my usual procedure, I headed over to IMDb to immediately gather intel on each movie, where I quickly came to the realization that – sigh – I probably wouldn’t allow myself one evening of rest, as almost every single program included at least one rarity not released on DVD.
One of the Noir City 14 posters from the San Francisco festival earlier this year. (From the Film Noir Foundation website)
However, for sanity's sake, I'll probably have to tear myself away from the Egyptian for at least one or two evenings, but it will be tough. That being said, below are some of the screenings I'm really looking forward to. And yes, it was hard not to include every single one here.
Oh, and fans of celluloid will be glad to know that each picture this year will be screened in 35mm! At least, that's what the website says...
Poster for the festival's opening night film, The Bitter Stems.
The Bitter Stems (1956)
A few Argentinean films screened last year, and it's always a treat to see how noir was explored in other cultures and industries. Plus, this picture is seldom screened and not available on DVD, so you can bet I'll be there!
From the American Cinematheque's site: "Former Hitchcock lenser Ted Tetzlaff (The Window) expertly helms this slam-bang murder mystery about international intrigue, a missing map and murder." Pretty much all of those words intrigue me immensely.
William Powell and Marsha Hunt in a movie I didn't know existed, Take One False Step.
Take One False Step (1949)
All I need to know about this is: 1. Marsha Hunt, 2. William Powell, 3. Rare, 4. I'm there. Seriously, I've pored over Marsha Hunt's filmography way too many times, and I don't recall ever seeing this title. Though Hunt hasn't been announced as a guest at this event, one can hope; I know Noir City has welcomed her in the past. (I've informed her camp about the screening either way, if they weren't already aware of it.)
What an awesome ad for the star-studded Flesh and Fantasy.
Flesh and Fantasy (1943)
All-star film noir?! What the what? This "anthology of slightly supernatural tales" boasts an outstanding cast, including Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Boyer, Robert Cummings, and more. Though this movie is available on DVD, the anthology approach, which I have rarely seen utilized during this time period, sounds too exciting for me to miss.
Dr. Broadway (1942)
Early Anthony Mann, produced a few years before the term 'film noir' was coined, boasting a plot that sounds pretty zany - what more could you ask of a B-noir?
Dynamite would be an appropriate word for Frankie and Shelley's relationship, from what I've heard.
Meet Danny Wilson (1952)
Frank Sinatra, Shelley Winters, and Raymond Burr? What a powerhouse trio! Apparently, gangster (naturally) Burr has an eye for Winters and "hot-tempered" singer Sinatra's salary, whatever that actually means. Could we be looking at some sort of violent sing-off? Perhaps...(probably not).
Flaxy Martin (1949)
Really, any movie summary that mentions both double-crossing and plot twists sounds like a winner to me - or at the very least, surprising and/or entertaining. Virginia Mayo and Zachary Scott don't hurt either.
That blonde definitely doesn't look too hot.
Key Witness (1947)
Don't you just hate it when you throw a party and a corpse interrupts the festivities? Well, in this case, the body appears the morning after, which is probably even worse. Unsurprisingly, the host takes off and runs from the cops, stumbles upon another dead man (that must be a sign of some sort, right?) and assumes that person's identity. There's no way this could end well, right?
Film noir in every way: Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea in a still for Too Late for Tears. (Picture provided by Flicker Alley)
Too Late for Tears (1949)
I actually don't think I'll be able to attend this screening, due to a reality-check likely occuring around the same time. I'll definitely need a break by this point; plus, I've already watched Too Late for Tears on the big screen, and it's being released on DVD. But, you never know, a photo like the one above may be all I need to suck it up and make my way to the Egyptian to revel in the excessive cheese and peril of this gem of a noir.
Buy Me That Town (1941)
What kind of title is this?! One that provokes further interest, that's for sure. With a plot that involves a group of New York gangsters who get pulled over for speeding in Connecticut and "hatch a plan to turn the sleepy burg into a resort for racketeers," this is one rare, kooky sounding B-comedy/drama that seems right up my alley.
Who else will be attending the 18th edition of Noir City Hollywood? If you're going, feel free to share your top picks below!