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The Haunted World of the B Film Noir this May in SF


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Just found out about this new Noir Festival coming up in a San Francisco theater while reading another thread - thought I'd post the info separately in case anyone in the area might be interested:

 

*I WAKE UP DREAMING: The Haunted World of the B Film Noir*

 

http://tinyurl.com/d57ffj

 

FILM NOIR returns in May to the ROXIE where it once enjoyed its greatest renaissance! Two weeks ? from May 15 through May 28 ? of darkly demented, baffling B budget curios of the American style ? most not available on DVD and many not seen in theaters for decades!

 

From 1990 until 2003, San Francisco?s Roxie Theater enjoyed a reputation as being the foremost venue in the entire Bay Area for the absolute best in quality, esoteric film noir. The guiding hand behind the film noir programming at the Roxie was Elliot Lavine, who left the theater in early 2003 to pursue other interests, among them teaching courses in film studies at Stanford and San Francisco State University. He has also completed work on a fascinating new book called TV NOIR: I WAKE UP DREAMING. To help celebrate the appearance of his soon to be published book, Lavine has been invited to curate this film noir series at the Roxie. The focus of this series is the shadowy and gritty world of the B noir. These are not the glitzy and glamorous classics most filmgoers are familiar with. Rather, they are the doomed and forgotten, rough and ready step-children of Hollywood?s lower depths; poverty row gems that, in many ways, capture the true, brutal essence of noir far better than many of their upper-crust cousins.

 

Films like THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE, featuring one of Lawrence Tierney?s fiercest and most disturbing performances; THE GUILTY, among the rarest poverty row adaptations of Cornell Woolrich?s deeply unsettling fiction; RAILROADED, Anthony Mann?s luminous no-budget, high tension crime tale; the seldom seen CANON CITY, one of the most exciting prison epics ever made; atom-age oddities SHACK OUT ON 101 and CITY OF FEAR and twenty-two other amazing examples of Hollywood?s darkest and most sinister by-products?an unforgettable wallow in the weirdly wicked world of B NOIR?at San Francisco?s original House of Noir?THE ROXIE!! See the complete schedule below.

Schedule

 

*WEEK ONE:*

 

Friday May 15:

THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE (1947)

THE GUILTY (1947)

 

Saturday May 16:

RAW DEAL (1948)

RAILROADED (1947)

 

Sunday May 17:

CANON CITY (1948)

FRAMED (1947)

 

Monday May 18:

THE SPECTER OF THE ROSE (1946)

THE MADONNA'S SECRET (1946)

 

Tuesday May 19:

THE STORY OF MOLLY X (1949)

PORT OF FORTY THIEVES (1944)

 

Wednesday May 20:

THE LAST CROOKED MILE (1946)

VIOLENCE (1947)

 

Thursday May 21:

PRIVATE HELL 36 (1954)

NO MAN'S WOMAN (1955)

 

*WEEK TWO:*

 

Friday May 22:

NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL (1955)

THE HOODLUM (1951)

 

Saturday May 23:

THE BURGLAR (1957)

WITNESS TO MURDER (1954)

 

Sunday May 24:

REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1946)

HOLLOW TRIUMPH (1948)

 

Monday May 25:

WOMEN IN THE NIGHT (1948)

UNDER AGE (1941)x

 

Tuesday May 26:

SUSPENSE (1946)

THE PRETENDER (1947)

 

Wednesday, May 27:

ALLOTMENT WIVES (1945)

WIFE WANTED (1946)

 

Thursday May 28:

CITY OF FEAR (1959)

SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955)

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Sounds like a great festival, and quite a bit longer than Noir City. There is something to be said for all the great little noirs released by the Poverty Row studios, and I imagine some of them are even harder to find than the ones from the major studios (although I see at least one or two titles that TCM has shown recently).

 

It seems to me Mr. Lavine must care about noir a really _great_ deal.

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Speaking of theatrical showings of rare movies, here is a nice article that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle:

 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/11/MNVVURG40.DTL

 

It includes some comments from Mr. Lavine. (I do not know him, personally, but I'm pretty sure I know some of the people who know him). He does, indeed, seem to be exceedingly knowledgeable about all things having to do with film noir.

 

I wonder if maybe he'll be one of the upcoming "special guests" at the Silver Screen Oasis, perhaps to give him an opportunity to talk about this new festival of B-noirs?

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> {quote:title=NoirDave wrote:}{quote}

> It would be nice to bring something like this to NY. I got a chance to see the 60th anniversary showing of Casablance in Lincoln Center. Would love to see something Flim Noir there too.

 

Hi, NoirDave! Welcome to the forums! :D

 

Did you hear about this event at the Film Forum?

 

The New York Film Forum pays tribute to noir stalwart director Jules Dassin. March 27?April 7. The retrospective includes several seminal noirs, including Night and the City (1950), The Naked City (1948), Thieves? Highway (1949), Brute Force (1947) and Rififi (1955).

 

Of course it's already over, but I hope you might have been able to attend a few of those shows.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lynn,

I do believe it is a great opportunity for anyone in the area to catch some very rare poverty row noirs, and for those who are able to buy a pass, a real bargain as well. The only real downside I can see is that the ladies' room at the Roxie has only a single stall... you can imagine the lines. ;)

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

> HGL,

>

> If you go, I hope you'll post about it. They have some very rare noir films in the line-up.

 

 

Hi lzcuutter,

 

You're right, it looks like a great program. I'm hoping to catch at least a few of the titles, since I'm just down the road from the Roxie.

 

Anyone else posting here planning to attend?

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> {quote:title=Dewey1960 wrote:}{quote}

> Rick, if you should make your way to the Roxie for this show, make sure you say hello! You too, Holly!

 

 

Dewey,

 

I guess I've been in "the dark" here (sorry, bad pun), but I had no idea until a few minutes ago that you're the curator of this program. Congratulations, you've put together a terrific series. I'm going to try to make it up at least once or twice, especially for Raw Deal, which I've never seen, and which FrankG has raved about (and I believe you as well). Anyway, I'll make sure and take a minute or two of your time and say hello. It will be a real pleasure.

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devilthumbsride.jpg

 

Things got off to a pretty good start Friday, with a screening of The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947), and the daughter of director Felix Feist in attendance!!

 

This is really one of the most memorable Lawrence Tierney performances anyone's ever likely to see. He's just... pure evil! ;)

 

414177.1010.A.jpg

 

Also on Friday night's double bill was The Guilty, a sweet Monogram Pictures adaptation of a Cornell Woolrich story, with Bonita Granville starring in a dual role. Interesting to see that the Nancy Drew star of the 30s also ended up her days at Monogram...

 

One more thing: I would be remiss not to mention that the screening of The Devil Thumbs a Ride was preceded by a 12-min. short from 1981, called Blind Alley, which Dewey directed. It is absolutely awesome, with some of the most breathtaking black-and-white cinematography I have ever seen!

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Hey Holly, glad you enjoyed last night's show! It's always a great pleasure, especially for noir enthusiasts, to have a Lawrence Tierney film up on the screen and *DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE*, for me at least, is the perfect way to kick off a series like this. And having the director's daughter in the house was a bonus that none of us had anticipated; she contacted me the evening before the show.

What made the experience so terrific for her was the fact that she had never seen the film before!

The co-feature, *THE GUILTY*, truly is one of the darkest, most sinister B noirs ever made; but what would you expect from the King Of Noir---Cornell Woolrich!

And thanks for the nice shout out on my short film. It was great to have it up there. Interestingly enough, it had its "theatrical premiere" back in 1981 at...The Roxie---years before I ever began programming films there! It goes around, it comes around.

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Well, I certainly hope Feist's daughter enjoyed the movie, I'd imagine she'd be very proud that it is still held in such high regard by noir fans more than 60 years after it was made.

 

One of the things that comes to mind while looking at all the movies being shown in this festival is the amazing number of movies that John Alton shot in the late 40s and early 50s. Obviously the shooting schedule for B movies and maybe even for most noirs must have been much shorter.

 

I'll bet TCM could easily find enough movies shot by John Alton to program a month-long tribute. That would be so awesome!

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Shown on Sunday, Eagle-Lion's Canon City is a prime example of a semidocumentary done on a low budget, with great photography by John Alton and shot on location in Canon City, Colorado, where the story depicted actually took place.

 

I wouldn't want to go into the details of the prison break movie, except to say that DeForest Kelly, despite getting on-screen billing in the end credits, has a relatively small part, and doesn't get much screen time compared to the other escapees.

 

canoncitych9.jpg

 

Canon City was shown on a double bill with Framed, a B-noir from Columbia Pictures starring Glenn Ford and Janis Carter that I watched previously when it was shown on TCM.

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A double-feature of Republic Pictures titles for the artistically-inclined, The Madonna's Secret and The Specter of the Rose are two movies not easily forgotten.

 

I wouldn't want to give away the secret at the end of The Madonna's Secret, but I would say that I thought it was very nicely done, all things considering. The story of a mysterious artist suspected of murdering his models, this movie features a lot of interesting scenes - the knife-throwing scene that elicited howls of laughter at a recent screening, for one - that are hard to describe but ultimately come together rather deliciously, especially with John Alton's magnificent black-and-white photography.

 

As for The Specter of the Rose - I wouldn't even know to begin. This Ben Hecht "dream project" simply has to be seen to be believed, especially all the scenes where Michael Chekhov dances - those are absolutely jaw-dropping. The great supporting cast here includes Judith Anderson and Lionel Stander, with some very nice, tart dialogue that's pure delight to the ear.

 

Dewey it's too bad you weren't there on Monday to introduce these two, because I'm sure folks would have loved to hear what you had to say about these two.

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In yet another terrific double bill, the fest brought a couple of terrific noirs centered on remarkable femmes fatale - Republic Pictures' The Port of Forty Thieves and Universal-International's The Story of Molly X.

 

Stephanie Bachelor as Muriel Chaney in Forty Thieves is absolutely unforgettable, imho, she's one serious femme fatale - and trust me, you absolutely do NOT want this lady to get the elevator for you!! ;)

 

As for Molly X, I really liked the rehabilitation angle (although some might feel it makes it a tad less noirish). That one also features terrific location shooting in and around San Francisco, at least in the first third of the movie. June Havoc (in the title role) and Dorothy Hart (as her archnemesis) are both terrific. If Pedro Almod?var had been around to make movies in the 40s, this is the kind of noir he might have directed!

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Another fine crowd last night on hand at the Roxie for the ultra-rare 1944 Republic B noir *THE PORT OF 40 THIEVES* featuring a stand-out femme-fatale performance by Stephanie Bachelor. A somewhat simplistic but sharply written script is one of the highlights of this swiftly paced programmer (it clocks in at just sixty minutes) which really delivers the goods, and how! The co-feature was *THE STORY OF MOLLY X*, a somewhat more elaborate production with a fine central performance by June Havoc as a dame who goes up the river after taking over control of her gunned-down hubby's mob. Perhaps more noir-ish than noir, it is nevertheless a well-made, exciting film and the crowd was into it from the get go.

Tonight's double bill is a dandy: the OTHER great Ann Savage B noir, *THE LAST CROOKED MILE* from 1946 and *VIOLENCE*, the 1947 follow-up to DECOY from director Jack Bernhard. Both of these outstanding B films are pretty rare and will no doubt go a long way in satisfying the cravings of a noir-hungry town!

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