Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tonight At San Francisco's Castro Theatre: Noir City Christmas

Vintage movie fun kicks Santa to the curb with The Film Noir Foundation's 5th annual holiday show. Tonight's double bill pairs the classic anthology feature O. Henry's Full House with producer Val Lewton's masterpiece, The Curse Of The Cat People, released by RKO in 1944.

While neither feature resides in the dark-darker-darkest-HOO-BOY is this freakin' dark "everybody dies" noir netherworld category, they are wonderful movies nonetheless. The Curse Of The Cat People was RKO producer Val Lewton's non-sequel to Cat People

RKO Radio Pictures wouldn't release The Curse Of The Cat People unless there was "Cat People" in the title. The two films are not related and (spoiler) there are no cat people or curses in the latter.

Robert Wise directed The Curse Of The Cat People, which delves deeply into the seldom charted territories of childhood fears, isolation, loneliness, family dysfunction, delusions and the use of imagination to survive all of the above.

Author John Steinbeck personally and very uncomfortably introduces O. Henry's Full House, a 20th Century-Fox compendium of tales by the "plot twist king", O. Henry.

Among the cast: Anne Baxter, Farley Granger, Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Peters, Gregory Ratoff, Richard Widmark (very much in his KISS OF DEATH mad dog psycho-killer form here) - and Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog favorite Oscar Levant.

The studio's top directors - Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King, Henry Koster and Jean Negulesco - each contribute a cinematic interpretation of an O. Henry story. And again, Mr. Steinbeck may be the single most reluctant on-camera host in the history of movies.

Author, historian and "Czar Of Noir" Eddie Muller will be revealing the complete schedule for Noir City 13 (January 16-25, 2015) and premiere the trailer to a new documentary on the festival.

For more info, check out the Noir City and Castro Theatre websites.

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