Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 Noir City

The Noir City Film Festival ran from January 22 to 31 at the Castro Theater.

I caught 18 of the 24 film which they screened.

Pitfall starring Dick Powell & Lizabeth Scott, directed by André De Toth; (1948)
Larceny starring John Payne & Dan Duryea; (1948)
Fly-By-Night directed by Robert Siodmak; (1942)
Cry Danger starring Dick Powell & Rhonda Fleming, directed by Robert Parrish; (1951)
The Mob starring Broderick Crawford, directed by Robert Parrish; (1951)
Niagara starring Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters & Marilyn Monroe; (1953)
The Asphalt Jungle starring Sterling Hayden, directed by John Huston; (1950)
The Gangster starring Barry Sullivan and Belita; (1947)
He Ran All The Way starring John Garfield and Shelley Winter; (1951)
One Girls' Confession starring Cleo Moore & Hugo Haas, directed by Hugo Haas; (1953)
Women's Prison starring Ida Lupino, Cleo Moore & Howard Duff; (1955)
Red Light starring George Raft, Virginia Mayo & Raymond Burr; (1949)
Walk A Crooked Mile starring Dennis O’Keefe & Louis Hayward; (1948)
Slattery's Hurricane starring Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell & Veronica Lake, directed by André De Toth; (1949)
Inside Job starring Preston Foster, Ann Rutherford & Alan Curtis; (1946)
Armored Car Robbery starring Charles McGraw & William Talman; (1950)
Escape In The Fog starring Nina Foch; (1945)
A Place In The Sun starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor & Shelley Winter; (1951)


Of the six films I missed, I have seen five of them on the big screen in recent years. These films were Suspense, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Pickup On South Street, Human Desire and Odds Against Tomorrow.

In addition, I've seen Pitfall and Cry Danger at previous Noir City festivals.

The film I missed but have not previously seen is Deported - a thinly disguised story about Lucky Luciano directed by Richard Siodmak.


They a short film several times. It's called The Endless Night: A Valentine to Film Noir. It is a montage of noir films set to music. It was created by Serena Bramble, a 20-year-old Santa Rose Junior College student. It was well received by all the audiences that I was part of and festival founder Eddie Muller praised it. It was fun to see how many films and actors I could identify. Actually, I was impressed with the editing and choice of music as well.

The film is on YouTube.


On stage, Eddie said this year's festival was "special." He indicated there was a certain excitement in the air. Personally, with the number of repeat screenings, I was a little disappointed in the festival. Of the new films I did watch, there were any found treasures.

My favorite film of the festival was A Place In The Sun. It's hard not to like any film with Elizabeth Taylor in a swimsuit. Last year, I saw Josef von Sternberg's An American Tragedy (1931) at the PFA. I recall enjoying the film. A Place In The Sun is a remake of An American Tragedy. It's a little too slick to be noir but it definitely has elements of noir. Shelley Winters is tremendous as the mousy girlfriend of ambitious Montgomery Clift. Clift is the poor cousin of a wealthy family. They give him a job on the assembly line where he falls for Winters. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Clift meets and hits it off with beautiful socialite Elizabeth Taylor. A love triangle develops but when Winters gets pregnant and ultimately indignant, Clift has a solution which involves a rowboat and Winter's inability to swim. Clift turns in a fine performance as a man desperately in love with Taylor and equally desperate to rise above his circumstances. Taylor's performance was a less admirable. I couldn't quite see what she saw in Clift's character. Also, her character's maturity level was all over the place but she was radiantly beautiful.

Armored Car Robbery is a film I've heard about for awhile. It's a straight forward caper film that showcases Charles McGraw and William Talman as the no nonsense cop and as the cold-blooded criminal mastermind. Actually Adele Jergens as the cuckolding stripper filled out her part nicely.

Women's Prison is another film that delivered what I was expecting - women in prison and Ida Lupino setting her bitch dial to 11. No one ever played the conniving, vicious, insecure bitch better than Ms. Lupino. Unfortunately, there was no diesel dyke to prey on the fish; all the inmates in this women's prison got along surprisingly well.

The Mob was a vehicle for Broderick Crawford to play a tough guy cop that infiltrates the mob. I wish had Broderick Crawford's voice. It's entertaining enough with Ernest Borgnine playing one of the mobsters. It's also notable for a bit part by Charles Bronson.

Slattery's Hurricane merits attention for the performance by Widmark. He plays a selfish pilot that restarts an affair with his friend's wife (Linda Darnell). Throughout the film, Widmark is flying drugs into the country for his employer while his girlfriend (Lake) is hooked on blow. Widmark played morally bankrupt characters quite well - Night and the City, Pickup on South Street, etc.

Cry Danger feature Dick Powell as a one-man army looking to figure out who framed him for murder & robbery. Richard Erdman steals all his scenes as the drunken ex-Marine who provides Powell with a phony alibi in hopes of splitting the hidden loot. Dick Powell knew how to play the lone wolf, tough guy and snazzy dialogue by William Bowers carry the film.

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