Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This Friday At The Castro Theatre: The Noir City Festival Returns

Noir City 13 is back in the saddle - no doubt ridden by an alcoholic former movie western star, now living in a flop house over a liquor store - yet again this Friday night at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. As the 2015 festival's theme is 'Til Death Do Us Part, the 25 films delve into marriages which give new meaning to the phrase "tie the knot".

As the complete schedule indicates, there will be two 35mm restorations in the festival. Woman On The Run features Ann Sheridan - much admired at Way Too Damn Lazy For A Blog for her fine performance alongside Cary Grant in the Howard Hawks comedy I Was A Male War Bride - with Dennis O' Keefe from quintessential noirs T-Men and Raw Deal.

Also newly restored on glorious 35mm film, The Guilty stars Bonita Granville, former child star and later producer of the Lassie TV show, in a dual role.

Fans of Hollywood's grande dames will not be disappointed, as the program includes hard-boiled vehicles for the aforementioned Ann Sheridan, Barbara Bel Geddes, Joan Fontaine, Claudette Colbert and Barbara Stanwyck. In Clash By Night, directed by Fritz Lang, an added bonus is one of Marilyn Monroe's earliest screen roles.

The Robert Ryan double bill will include what this correspondent considers arguably the most brilliant piece of pure filmmaking to emerge from the noir genre (yes, topping Orson Welles' A Touch Of Evil), director Robert Wise's masterful The Set-Up.

The Bigamist gets both Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino making whoopee with film noir mainstay Edmond O' Brien - no, not Cary Grant, Gary Cooper or Robert Ryan, but. . . Edmond O' Brien - although not at the same time or in the same city. This is just one of several outstanding features directed by Ms. Lupino, who, just a few years later, would be the only director working in television to helm episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, The Twilight Zone AND Have Gun, Will Travel.

On the campier side of noir, in Born To Be Bad, Joan Fontaine takes a gallon of gasoline and a match to her previous "good girl" Hollywood movie image. . . and (forgive the writer) has a blast in the process!

Ms. Fontaine's character, the ever-horny Christabel Caine Carey, makes Errol Flynn look like an "asexual".

Noir City 13 also includes a Thin Man double bill: the first two films in the MGM series, featuring Myrna Loy and William Powell as everybody's favorite witty, charming, sophisticated and hard-drinking sleuths from the single malt Scotch-soaked brain of Dashiell Hammett.

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

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