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It's Getting Dark - Film Noir Festival


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For those in the area (or interested in coming to the area), the Fifth Annual Noir City Film Festival opens Friday, January 26, 2007 in San Francisco with Raw Deal and Kid Glove Killer on the double-bill. Marsha Hunt will make a personal appearance with an on-stage interview between the two movies. Raw Deal will be seen using the pristine archival print from the Library of Congress.

 

Saturday, January 27 will feature Cry Danger with featured player Richard Erdman making a personal appearance. He'll be interviewed between the feature and its screen mate Abandoned. This latter movie with Dennis O'Keefe, Gale Storm, Raymond Burr and Jeff Chandler has never been transferred to VHS nor DVD, and will be seen in an archival print from Universal Pictures.

 

Also featured:

 

Sunday, January 28

99 River Street (Never on VHS nor DVD)

Hell's Half Acre (Never on VHS nor DVD)

 

Monday, January 29

The Threat (Never on VHS nor DVD)

Roadblock (Never on VHS nor DVD)

 

Tuesday, January 30

Framed (Never on VHS nor DVD)

Affair in Trinidad

 

Wednesday, January 31

I Love Trouble (Never on VHS nor DVD)

Pushover (Never on VHS nor DVD) Seen last week on TCM!

 

Thursday, February 1

Scarlet Street (Archival print from the Library of Congress)

Wicked Woman (Never on VHS nor DVD)

 

Groundhog Day

The Big Combo

The Spiritualist New print.

 

Saturday, February 3

I Walk Alone (Never on VHS nor DVD) Recently discovered archival print courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Never on VHS nor DVD) New print from Universal

 

Sunday, February 4

The Damned Don't Cry

Possessed

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Last night I attended the opening night of the festival. Thought I'd report a few tidbits for those who are interested. The evening opened with a short subject by a very talented 26-year-old fellow from the U.K by the name of Osbert Parker. Film Noir was a stop action animation piece using collages of old stills from classic movies. It was very effective and a great fanfare to open the fest.

 

The first movie in this Marsha Hunt double feature was Raw Deal, and it was immediately apparent that the full house was populated with afficiandos: the most rousing applause during the opening credits (other than for Miss Hunt, who was in attendance) was for Director of Photography John Alton.

 

Marsha Hunt was interviewed and she looks great. Healthy, aglow, elegant, gracious. She was stunned to see a full audience of people who came out in the drizzle to see her. "Who knew sixty years later that Film Noir would be the vanguard with a cult following?!", she cried. She theorized that people love these dark movies about lives gone wrong because the audience can say, "Well, I guess my life isn't so bad after all."

 

Ms. Hunt loved the twists of Raw Deal: ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** That the gun moll and bad girl Claire Trevor would end up behaving nobly and that the good girl (played by herself) would end up murdering. Film Noir connaisseur Eddie Mueller was the interviewer, and told of meeting Ms. Trevor and asking her about Raw Deal. She said, "What's that?". He told her it was a movie she made in the 1940's. "Who was in it?" she replied. When he told her "Marsha Hunt", she slyly smiled and said, "Oh, the Good Girl, no doubt..." Ms. Hunt was also called "the youngest character actress", having played four "old lady" roles before she hit 30.

 

On the Raw Deal cast: "Dennis O'Keefe was a lot of fun and taught me a very spicy song. Claire kind of avoided me. She wanted to keep the distance (because of the rivalry of their characters). Forty years later we met at [director] Burt Kennedy's place. He lived right across the street from me and he gave himself a 75th birthday party every year for about ten years. One time Claire was there and I was surprised that she greeted me so warmly."

 

Ms. Hunt asked us with a wink, "Did you ever notice there's no dry street at night [in this movie]?". It's a Film Noir affectation, to be sure; but this film took place in San Francisco, and that night fog does roll in, making it the perfect setting for these flicks. [side note: the daughter and granddaughter of Dashiell Hammet were also in the audience.] And with another wink, "I don't think there were more than two lines without either one of us saying the name 'Joe' [Dennis O'Keefe's character]."

 

The second movie was Kid Glove Killer which was Fred Zinnemann's first feature film [We also get a peak at a very young Ava Gardner, as a stunningly beautiful drive-in car hop!]. He was "a nice, complicated fellow. As gifted as they get; soft spoken, low key. Before rehearsing the first scene of the movie, he called the entire crew down from the catwalks and gathered everyone around him. He said, 'this is my first film and you're all veterans. I want this to be the best picture it can be, so if any of you see something that can be better, I want you to let me know.' Well, what a start. Everyone loved working with someone like that." Adding with a wink, "The only thing to be grateful to Hitler for was the exodus of these great directors -- Preminger, Ulmer, Zinnemann and so on. Thanks Adolf."

 

Marsha Hunt grew up in New York City, not far from Broadway. She dreamed of becoming a Broadway star (and later would perform on the stage). As a youth, she said she was frustrated because there was little training available. They weren't allowed to major in stagecraft until the third year of college and there was no training for films; so she went into modeling and travelled to Hollywood as a model.

 

Her favorite movie was Pride and Prejudice. [Cinematographer] Karl Freund would walk on the set and call out "Where's turkey neck?" (referring to Ms. Hunt). "They taught me to sing off key, which is hard if you have musical ability. I can sing. So they had to train me to sing just under the pitch." And "Of course, I had a crush on Lawrence Olivier."

 

Regarding her trip to the HUAC session in Washington, D.C., she began by downplaying her own attendance, with "There were many who wanted to go. Several hundred would have wanted to be on that plane from Hollywood. The House Un-American Activities Committee discovered that they could get headlines by attacking Hollywood. So Hollywood gave a send-off at the Shrine Auditorium. Howard Hughes offered a plane, but wasn't allowed to give it. [John] Huston, [William] Wyler... We had two or three stops on the way there and again coming back, and at every stop there would be crowds wanting to see the Bogarts. We would tell the people in these towns that it was ridiculous that all of Hollywood was behind these communist ideas, hiding propaganda in all of the scripts. By the time we returned to Hollywood, the meetings were called off. But the bottom dropped soon after. The money backers to the studios demanded the forcing of the Hollywood 19; many were blacklisted. So that's 'whatever happened to Marsha Hunt'!"

 

She was twice asked to run for public office and was "so flattered, but no... Though getting blacklisted was a great way to get more free time!"

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Thank you for your comments in regard to the noir festival, and a special thanks for relaying the comments and remembrances if the fabulous Marsha Hunt . One late night circa 1960 -70, I discovered " Raw Deal " on WGN, and frankly didn't expect very much, boy was I mistaken.

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'Twas a pleasure, Mr. 123. She was very gracious to her audience. After her interview, she stayed and spent time with anyone who approached her. She was very generous with her time. Are you aware that she's written a book? I believe it's called The Way We Wore....

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Thank you for that link. In her photo Marsha Hunt looks much, much younger than 89. Richard Erdman, who is also mention in the Times article, provides some of the Commentary on the Deluxe DVD for " Stalag 17 ", along with Gil Stratton ( "Cookie " ),and co - playwright Donald Bevan.

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Thanks ever so for sharing the details of the festival. I have been meaning to see if I can get sprung from Oxnard to attend one of the Danger and Despair's Knitting Circle events. What a treasure to hear some of Marsha's stories. To quote Ashleigh Brilliant "There may not be a Heaven, but there is a San Francisco".

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You can write up here too. I can even lend you a pencil! Write all day, gaze at Joan Bennett and Lizabeth Scott all night. ;)

 

There are a few more days to go:

 

Today

The Big Combo- John Alton's camera works over Richart Conte and Cornell Wilde in a restored print from UCLA.

The Spiritualist New print from Sony Classics features Lynn Bari and Turhan Bey.

 

Saturday, February 3

Burt Lancaster double feature: I Walk Alone (Never on VHS nor DVD) Recently discovered archival print courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Never on VHS nor DVD) New print from Universal

 

Sunday, February 4

Joan Crawford double feature with The Damned Don't Cry and Possessed/

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