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A Sneak Peek of Noir City Hollywood 25

March 7, 2024

After a brief detour to Santa Monica last year, Noir City Hollywood is back in the heart of Hollywood! The festival returns to the recently re-opened Egyptian Theatre for its 25th edition from March 22-31. This year’s theme of sorts is “darkness has no borders,” with a majority of the 23-movie lineup featuring “allegorical double features” pairing foreign titles with English-language films.

 

We’re hosting friends the first two nights of the fest, so unfortunately, I’ll miss a few screenings. Hopefully, I can make it to several movies throughout the week, though. Here’s a brief look at the full schedule, highlighting the films I can’t wait to see and the ones I’m bummed to miss out on. 

Never Open That Door poster-min.jpeg

A Spanish-language poster for the Argentine film Never Open That Door. 

FRIDAY 3/22

Never Open That Door (1952) and The Window (1949)

Eddie Muller has brought several rediscovered Argentine films to Noir City over the past few years. All the movies I’ve seen were spectacular, and I expect nothing less from this title, based on a Cornell Woolrich story. Critic Horacio Bernades’s assertion that “rarely has an Argentine film been more purely cinematic than this” makes this an opening I could not miss. (Initially, I was going to skip both films, but I’ve re-arranged my schedule to make Never Open That Door.)

 

That said, I definitely won’t make The Window. I’m fine with that; I’ve seen Woolrich’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” fable recently on the big screen. It also starts around 10pm, which is my bedtime!

SATURDAY 3/23

Kiss of Death (1947)

Saturday is the toughest day for me. My non-noir schedule is packed, and I’ve seen NONE of the three films screening at Noir City. If I could be in two places at once all day, I would be. (Consider this my official request to move Saturday's films to Sunday. I’ve seen all the movies playing Sunday!)

 

Kiss of Death, shot on location in New York starring Victor Mature, Coleen Gray, and Richard Widmark (playing a sociopath in his debut performance!), is a brand-new title to me. That means I feel great sadness to have to miss this one.    

Cairo Station poster-min.jpeg

Union Station and Cairo Station (both 1958)

My boyfriend thinks we’ve seen Union Station before, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t. Cinematographer turned director Rudolph Maté helmed this suspense film starring William Holden and Barry Fitzgerald as cops trying to thwart a kidnapping. The movie reunited Holden with Nancy Olson eight years after Sunset Boulevard, and while she’s not a scheduled guest, I feel like there’s a chance she could show up—and she has GREAT stories.

 

I’ve never seen an Egyptian film, and having been to Cairo recently, I would love to experience Cairo Station on the big screen. The director, Youssef Chahine, stars as a man obsessed with a lemonade vendor (Hind Rustom, nicknamed the “Arab Marilyn Monroe”), and the film’s content prompted public boycotts. All of those things intrigue me, but sadly, I don’t think this is in the cards for me due to previous plans.

SUNDAY 3/24

Desert Fury (1947)

A Lizabeth Scott noir in color! With Burt Lancaster and Mary Astor! Set in the desert! I’ve seen this eccentric noir before, but it’s been a while, so I may have to give Desert Fury another go—if I can make it.

Human Desire French poster-min.jpg

A French poster for Human Desire (1954).

La Bête Humaine (1938) and Human Desire (1954)

Many years ago, I saw a screening of Jean Renoir’s stark classic La Bête Humaine with Norman Lloyd in attendance, and I don’t think anything can top that experience and memory.

 

I’ve also seen Fritz Lang’s Human Desire, adapted from La Bête Humaine. While I find it hard to pass up a Glenn Ford-Gloria Grahame picture, a bleak film starting at 9:30pm usually does not bode well for me.

 

 

MONDAY 3/25

Armored Car Robbery (1950) and Assault on the Pay Train (1962)

A 67-minute B-movie shot on location in LA starring Charles McGraw and William Talman? Sign me up! The American Cinematheque calls Armored Car Robbery the “film noir equivalent of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA," and I'm all here for that. I’ve seen this one before, but now I'm tempted to watch it again...

 

Because Armored Car Robbery is so short, I’d love to catch Assault on the Pay Train, a new-to-me Brazilian thriller based on one of the country’s most infamous heists.

Brute Force poster-min.jpeg

TUESDAY 3/26

Brute Force (1947) and Hardly a Criminal (1949)

I’ve heard of these prison pictures before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen them. In the case of Brute Force, I think I’d remember Burt Lancaster and Howard Duff as inmates; Ann Blyth, Yvonne De Carlo, and Ella Raines as women waiting on the outside; and Hume Cronyn as a sadistic warden. (I’d especially remember that last part!) Suffice it to say, I’m very curious about this Jules Dassin noir entry.

 

Hardly a Criminal is an Argentine noir that the Cinematheque calls a cross between Brute Force and The Naked City (1948). That intrigues me, and I’ll certainly *try* to stay up late for this screening.

Le Trou poster-min.jpeg

WEDNESDAY 3/27

Black Tuesday (1954) and Le Trou (1960)

I’ve heard that Eddie Muller is particularly proud of this double feature. That has my attention, in addition to the fact that I’ve not heard of either of these titles. Edward G. Robinson seemingly reverts to brutal Little Caesar (1931) territory in Black Tuesday, this time playing a gangster who breaks out of jail on his execution day and takes a group hostage while he’s at it. Sounds pretty drab, but I’m always down to see Robinson, especially in a rarely screened noir.

 

Le Trou is adapted from a book about a real prison escape written by one of the participants—and starring one of his accomplices! That detail, by itself, has me keenly interested. That said, this picture, which Pierre Melville called “the greatest French film of all time,” runs over 2 hours and starts after 9pm, so we’ll see how the night is going.

 

 

THURSDAY 3/28

The Narrow Margin (1952) and Rififi (1955)

I’ve seen both of these classics before, and while I’d love to watch them again, I’ll be attending a music show this evening. At least I’m glad that new-to-me movies aren’t scheduled this evening!

Thieves' Highway poster-min.jpeg

FRIDAY 3/29

Bitter Rice and Thieves’ Highway (both 1949)

The international film plays first this evening, which I’m happy about, because it’s the title I haven’t seen on this double bill. (And I’m probably skipping out on the classic Thieves’ Highway because: sleep.) An Italian noir, Bitter Rice stars Vittorio Gassman as the homme fatale opposite two female migrant workers, Doris Dowling and Silvana Mangano. The film garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Writing in 1951, and “is above all a tribute to women’s labor, community, and solidarity,” per the Cinematheque. All of these elements have my attention!

 

 

SATURDAY 3/30

The Mind Reader (1933)

Proto-noir time! This 70-minute pre-Code stars Warren William as a fake spiritualist named Chandra the Great. Need I say more? I've seen The Mind Reader, but I can't pass up a rarely screened pre-Code.

 

Nightmare Alley (1947)

Thematically, The Mind Reader and Nightmare Alley make a great double bill, as both center around phony mentalists. I’m wondering if this nitrate screening meant the bill had to be split? While I think this bleak noir is fabulous and Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell, in particular, turn in fantastic performances, I’ve seen this UCLA nitrate print within the last few years. That means I may skip it… even though my heart tells me not to miss a rare nitrate screening!

New York Confidential poster-min.jpg

SUNDAY 3/31

Under the Gun (1951) and New York Confidential (1955)

Another double feature I’ve never heard of! Under the Gun is screening on 35mm, stars Richard Conte and Audrey Totter, AND is not available on DVD. All that makes this film, set on a Florida prison farm (?!), a must-see.

 

New York Confidential sounds intense. I can’t sum it up better than the Cinematheque’s website: “Crime syndicate boss Nick Lupo (Broderick Crawford) wheels and deals while mentoring an ominous torpedo (Richard Conte), coping with a gold-digging mistress (Marilyn Maxwell), and managing a rebellious daughter (Anne Bancroft).” I mean, who wouldn’t want to witness this chaos?

 

 

Le Samouraï (1967)

I’ve never seen Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic Le Samouraï, starring Alain Delon as an assassin. With that, this West Coast restoration premiere seems like the perfect time for a first watch!

 

 

Are you attending Noir City Hollywood? If so, feel free to share your must-sees below!

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I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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