Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Spirit of Noir City...and This is Not a Story for Little Boys

I did not attend the Noir City Xmas Kickoff event at the Castro on December 17.  I had seen both films on the program.  I don't know what Eddie Muller said during the evening.  The theme for this year's Noir City is unholy matrimony.

"This year's festival presents an extraordinary range of films all centered around how the bonds of matrimony affect an array of characters—those who crave a perfect and permanent union, those who'll stop at nothing to preserve it, and those who will do anything to escape it."

I also noticed that "this year's [Noir City] poster has a surprising back story."  However, the back story of the poster is replete with mystery.  Unlike every other film festival I have attended, Noir City selects a spokesmodel each year (aka Miss Noir City).  Czar of Noir Eddie Muller is a little cagey in describing the selection process but I have noticed that all the Miss Noir City winners look incredible in a tight skirt and even better when they wear less than that.

If the theme of the films of the 2015 Noir City is unholy matrimony then the theme to the 2015 Noir City poster is "lustful lesbian pulp."  Miss Noir City 2014 was Evie Lovelle and Miss Noir City 2013 was Audra Wolfmann.

Ms. Wolfmann's poster featured her as a sexy, sweaty, Rosie-the-Riveter type working an old-school 35 mm projector while (presumably) the projectionist is out cold with his hands bound behind his back.  I particularly liked the saddle shoes she is wearing and the motto "Keeping It Reel" emblazoned on the projector.

Ms. Lovelle's poster had her partially reclined on a chaise lounge in an unidentified Islamic city.  There is a globe & airplane statuette which I think I've seen in a film before.  It may be a reference to the Universal Studios logo, but the three vertical stabilizers on the tail section of the plane makes me think that is not the case.

This year's poster features two women whom I believe are Mses. Lovelle & Wolfmann.  The poster has a lot of interesting aspects to it.  First, I notice it is missing the Film Noir Foundation logo.  Second, the poster is actually a paperback novel cover.  The creases on the upper and lower right corners and along the left edge are meant to give the impression of a well-worn paperback.  Under the "N" of Noir City is a logo (not the FNF logo) and beneath the logo is the price of 35 cents...the approximate price of a pulp paperback in 1951.

However, by far the most interesting aspect to this year's poster is the alleged back story.  The 2013 poster features Ms. Wolfmann as Connie Slubowski, a film projectionist during WWII who lost her job when the theater's pre-war projectionist returned from military service.  Slubowski snuck into the projection booth (on the day The Postman Always Rings Twice premiered), knocked out the projectionist and projected the film for four days before being discovered.  The president of the theater chain paid off the projectionist for his silence and promptly married Slubowski.

The 2014 poster features Ms. Lovelle as Linda Loring, an Oxford educated "jewel thief, art forger and con artist."  After a some trouble in Istambul, Loring absconded to Southern California where she passed herself off as a divorce lawyer.  It was in LA where Loring was hired by Stanley Bates to handle his divorce and make sure his wife got nothing from the settlement.

The 2015 poster features Ms. Lovelle as Loring, Ms. Wolfmann as Connie Bates (née Slubowski) and that's probably Eddie Muller as the recently departed Stanley Bates, the victim of a double cross conspiracy  involving his attorney and his wife.

It's an entertaining story and I believe Muller actually had a three year plan when he created the posters.  If so, that's as impressive as the back story.  As for the back story, it seems as though Muller borrowed from multiple sources.

First, there is Linda Loring...that is the name of a love interest and eventual wife of Philip Marlowe, the fictional detective created by Raymond Chandler and portrayed most famously by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep.

Loring's nom de guerre is P'Gell.  P'Gell is an Istambul-based femme fatale character from The Spirit, a comic strip/book written by Will Eisner from 1940 to 1952.  Note the similarities between the 2014 Noir City poster and the cover of the October 6, 1946 issue of The Spirit.

2014 Noir City Poster 

October 6, 1946 Issue of The Spirit
Seeing that last year's poster was based on a comic book cover and that this year's poster was explicitly referenced as "lustful lesbian pulp," I decided to peruse the covers of various cheap crime novels to see if I could find a similar one.

2015 Noir City Poster 
I didn't find any that matched but it was a lot fun to look at them.  Among my favorite titles were:  Never Love a Man, By Love Depraved, Warped Women (Marilyn Monroe must have been the inspiration for the cover art), Tutor from Lesbos, Campus Kittens, Sin Sucker (Mary Wanted More Than Her Husband Could Give) & 69 Barrow Street (Their Love Was Right! But Their Sex Was Wrong).  With all due respect to the Czar of Noir, the cover art for several of the lesbian pulp novels put his poster (and me) to shame.

2013 Noir City Poster
I firmly believe "Connie Slubowski" is a reference to a fictional character but I cannot find the source material.  Maybe I can pick up some clues at Noir City which begins in less than two weeks (January 16 to 25).

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