Posted by Richard Harland Smith on April 20, 2007
Don’t trust The American Cinematheque – their annual film noir festival is in its 9th year not its 8th, as their promotions allege. We’ll forgive 'em the slip-up, as the hardworking folks at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood have a lot on their plates these days and, after all, film noir is all about suckers and marks who just can't do the math. Programmed by noir know-it-alls Eddie Muller (author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir) and Alan K. Rode (whose essential Charles McGraw biography is due this fall from McFarland) in association with the American Cinematheque’s own Chris D and on the dime of the estimable Film Noir Foundation, “Noir City” has entered its second of three weeks at the Egyptian.
Following its success at San Francisco’s Castro Theater, the series picked up at the Egyptian on April 12th with a pairing of Fred Zinnemann’s Act of Violence (1948) starring Van Heflin and Robert Ryan with Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil (1948) starring John Garfield and Marie Windsor, followed by a Friday the 13th deuce of Richard Fleischer’s steely Armored Car Robbery (1950) with Charles McGraw and William Talman alongside Robert Wise’s brutal Odds Against Tomorrow (1960) starring Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte, with the late, great Richard Bright in an early role as Coco, a transparently gay gunsel. Audiences have been treated to special appearances by Odds leading lady Kim Hamilton and Cry of the City (1948) costar Tommy Cook, both of whom shared priceless stories of working with the likes of Ryan, Belafonte, Richard Conte, Victor Mature and a young Shelley Winters.
For you saps not wise to the charms of noir, this crime film subgenre began in earnest post-WWII, when producers realized the spats and homburgs of the classic gangster pictures were outdated fashions. With a pernicious vibe of cynicism undercutting the American dream, film noir was born. Stark black and white thrillers edged with German expressionism gave a psychological twist to such tales of greed, betrayal, revenge and retribution as Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946) with Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947) with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas and Edgar G. Ulmer’s cheapjack Detour (1945) with future wife-killer Tom Neal and the aptly-named Ann Savage. Deceit, determinism and doom were the watchwords of film noir, which continues to influence moviemakers 60 years later. With American society suffering from a galloping case of cultural amnesia, festivals like “Noir City” are crucial for not only providing access to classic and obscure titles but for placing these films in a context allowing us to understand why they were made and where they were coming from. There are two more weeks of this fest to go and plenty of time left to see some dynamite thrillers.
Confirmed guests for the remaining run include Ann Robinson (The Glass Wall, Saturday April 21), Coleen Gray (The Killing and The Sleeping City, Wednesday April 25), Peggy Webber (The Wrong Man, Saturday April 28), Richard Anderson (The People Against O'Hara, Saturday April 29) and the mighty, mighty Robert Loggia (The Garment Jungle, Wednesday May 2, closing night).
Now scram, see. Beat it… to “Noir City” at The Egyptian!
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art in Movies Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films of the 1960s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies