Thursday, January 19, 2017

Starting Tomorrow Night at San Francisco's Castro Theatre: The Return Of Noir City




"Noir City 15's lineup explores, in films both suspenseful and comedic, the desperate lengths to which people will go to beat the system and hit the big time."




The 2017 incarnation of Noir City hits the spectacular art deco movie palace trappings of San Francisco's Castro Theatre this Friday night!



A happy day in Noir Universe entails heaping helpings of thuggery, skullduggery, chicanery, desperation, doomed relationships, double-crossing dames, sex-starved saps, roads leading nowhere, bullet-riddled sedans, nervous cigarette smoking, furtive claustrophobia and post-WWII style ennui, with double shots of Dirty Al's Rotgut Whiskey and stark terror.



Opening night presents a double bill of two unbeatable classic movies, Cross Cross and The Asphalt Jungle.






The Noir City 2017 theme is The Big Knockover: 10 Days Of Heists, Hold-ups, And Schemes Gone Awry. Here's the official Noir City 15 trailer, created with much skill and imagination by Serena Bramble on Vimeo.




The lineup shall present "a veritable history of the heist film" and include such devastating thrillers as Jules Dassin's Rififi.



There will also be such unique and in some cases comic spins on the genre as Big Deal On Madonna Street, The Ladykillers and The League Of Gentlemen.







While quite a few movies on the program offer that careening yet foreboding shadow world in chiaroscuro black & white cinematography, the festival, exploring the "heist" theme, includes a fair number of films produced, like a Quinn Martin Productions TV show in color. . . if not necessarily glorious Technicolor, breathtaking CinemaScope and stereophonic sound - with the exception of Violent Saturday, directed by Richard Fleischer.



This fast-paced thriller, starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Lee Marvin (we would assume Dan Duryea was not available), actually is in CinemaScope.



The cinematic cornucopia of criminal capers ranges from hard-boiled noir classics (Criss Cross, Rififi, The Killing, Kansas City Confidential) to equally hard-boiled 1970's urban dramas (Blue Collar).



The festival's producer, host and co-programmer Eddie Muller a.k.a. The Czar Of Noir notes, "films in the festival come from the United States, England, Japan, France, Italy, Argentina, and Germany and span eight decades of filmmaking." The program will also include the contemporary thrillers El Aura and Victoria.

Since this blogger's last viewings of many of these excellent noirs transpired via VHS tapes and non-HD television sets in the last century, the festival shall represent a fresh re-introduction to many of the 24 classic films in the Noir City 15 lineup.

Also strongly recommend that attendees buy the compilation books of articles from Noir City's e-magazine. The essays make superlative reading and many of the very best writers about cinema in the country are represented. This film buff and reader finds it more fun to buy a copy at the Castro than online and then peruse the articles between films. Limited numbers of copies are available for purchase on the mezzanine.



Noir City 15: The Big Knockover
When: January 20 to January 29, 2017
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street (at 17th)
Why: It's BIG SCREEN FUN!
Who Benefits: The Film Noir Foundation, the cause of film preservation and most of all. . . the moviegoing audience!



By all means, check out the official program notes - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 - as well as the following preliminary write-ups on the festival:

Advance tickets for the programs are available online through Brown Paper Tickets. For more info, see the Noir City and Castro Theatre websites. There's also a Noir CitySF YouTube channel.



That said, one scenario featuring a heist we will definitely NOT see in the Noir City 15 lineup is Maudlin's Eleven from SCTV, but we'll post it anyway to get properly primed for the criminal caper-fest.



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