May 11 – 27, 2001

American Cinematheque Presents...

Side Streets and Back Alleys: The 3rd Annual Festival of FILM NOIR

 

*There have been some changes to start times and attending guests since this series was first posted. Please check show times carefully. Those in red have been changed.

Series Compiled by Eddie Muller and Dennis Bartok, with the special assistance of Marvin Paige and Chris D.

Special Thanks: Marilee Womack and Linda Evans-Smith/WARNER CLASSICS; Ed Zeier and Merrilee Griffin/UNIVERSAL PICTURES; Peter Langs; Fritz Herzog/ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES – Film Archive; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Anne Goodman/CRITERION PICTURES; Wade Williams; Joe Dante; Lee Sanders.

Tickets available 30 days in advance.

2000 Festival

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More than 60 years after it began, in the pulp magazines and expressionistic, doom-laden thrillers and crime movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s, Film Noir continues to cast its wicked spell on us. Following on the success of last year’s Noir Fest, we’ve combed through studio archives and forgotten film depots like Dick Powell in MURDER MY SWEET, to bring you even more phenomenally rare treats for this year’s series. Revisit classic thrillers like THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE KILLERS and HANGOVER SQUARE. Explore long-lost gems like UNDER THE GUN, SHAKEDOWN, BURY ME DEAD and REPEAT PERFORMANCE. Marvel at the Poverty Row madness of THE GANGSTER, SUSPENSE, and the delirious DECOY (one of the amazing discoveries of last year’s Fest, back for a return engagement!)

One of the highlights of this year’s series is a Special Seminar & Book signing on Saturday, May 26th with author and Fest co-programmer Eddie Muller and an all-star cast of femmes fatales including Jane Greer, Audrey Totter, Coleen Gray, Ann Savage and Evelyn Keyes, to celebrate the publication of Muller’s new noir book, Dark City Dames - ! *Please note that this event was scheduled for May 12 but has been postponed until May 26th to insure delivery of books.

 

Friday, May 11 – 7:00 PM

THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, 1950, MGM (Warner Classics), 112 min. With Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, Jean Hagen. The kingpin of caper films, featuring one of the best ensemble casts ever. Director John Huston's neo-realist take on the ambitions of small-time hoods brought a new level of empathy and authenticity to crime - that "left-handed form of human endeavor." Famous as the film that introduced Marilyn Monroe, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE deserves renewed recognition as a crucial work of noir Americana. *James Whitmore and Marc Lawrence will not be able to attend, despite what was previously announced.

 

 

Friday, May 11 – 9:45 PM

HANGOVER SQUARE, 1945, 20th Century Fox, 77 min. Dir. John Brahm. Perhaps the best 1940’s thriller that no one has ever seen. Laird Cregar is memorable as a Victorian-era composer beset with blackouts. Is he also a marauding murderer? His passion for luscious singer Linda Darnell inspires betrayal, revenge - and the climactic "Concerto Macabre," one of composer Bernard Herrmann's most thrilling pieces of music.

 

 

Saturday, May 12 – 6:00 PM

THE LOCKET, 1946, RKO (Warners), 85 min. This dazzling and dizzying psychological drama was director John Brahm's intricate follow-up to HANGOVER SQUARE. Hollywood's newfound infatuation with flashbacks is fully realized as a groom hears myriad wedding-day tales of his bride's troubled past. Laraine Day is fabulous as the woman whose childhood obsession for a prized locket is at the heart of the unraveling mystery. Discussion following with producer Bert Granet.

 

 

Saturday, May 12 – 8:30 PM

Barry Sullivan & Belita – Ultra-Rare Monogram Double-Feature!

THE GANGSTER, 1947, Monogram (Warners), 84 min. Dir. Gordon Wiles. Barry Sullivan gives an intense performance as Shubunka, a two-bit, paranoid Scarface trying to stave off elimination by the encroaching syndicate. This Poverty Row product compresses the rise-and-fall gangster scenario into a moody bit of noir theater, bolstered by a supporting cast that blasts its way through the stylized dialogue of uncredited scripter Dalton Trumbo. Co-starring ice skater turned actress Belita.

SUSPENSE, 1946, Monogram (Warners), 101 min. With Barry Sullivan. A high point for low-rent Monogram Pictures. Writer Philip Yordan and director Frank Tuttle cram as much punch and panache into this Cain-inspired tale of lust and murder as the paltry budget allowed. There are as many loops and spins to the plot as there are in co-star Belita's show-stopping ice skating routines.

 

 

Sunday, May 13 – 5:00 PM

Jan Sterling In-Person!

CAGED, 1949, Warner Bros., 96 min. Dir. John Cromwell. Eleanor Parker gives the performance of her career in this bleak, unsentimental women-behind-bars saga. Sentenced to prison for her role in the failed robbery that killed her husband, Marie Allen (Parker) undergoes a degrading transformation from vulnerable innocent to cynical prostitute. Writer Virginia (T-MEN) Kellogg's script was informed by months of research "on the inside." Discussion following with actress Jan Sterling.

 

 

Sunday, May 13 – 7:30 PM

John Alton Double-Feature:

TALK ABOUT A STRANGER, 1952, MGM (Warner Classics), 65 min. Dir. David Bradley. A tightly-wound tale of suspicion and mob violence, made all the more forceful by the brilliant camera work of noir visionary John Alton. In this unsettling twist on The Boy Who Cried Wolf, young Billy Gray tries to convince his small town neighbors that a reclusive stranger has poisoned his dog - and may be a murderer in hiding.

THE CROOKED WAY, 1949, United Artists, 87 min. Dir. Robert Florey. The familiar postwar noir tale of an amnesiac veteran foraging through his past gets an extra dose of seductive intrigue from the cinematography of John Alton. John Payne foggily navigates the L.A. underworld, rekindling things with old flame Ellen Drew and igniting hostilities with former cronie Sonny Tufts.

 

 

Thursday, May 17 – 7:30 PM

BURY ME DEAD, 1947, JED Films, 71 min. The somber aftermath of a woman's death is considerably enlivened when the "deceased" (June Lockhart) shows up at her own funeral. Who's really dead, and why? That's the mystery of this little-seen gem from Poverty Row studio PRC, photographed by the great John Alton, and directed by the man who brought him to Hollywood, Bernard Vorhaus (the same team responsible for THE SPIRITUALIST, one of the major discoveries of last year’s Noir Fest.)

 

 

Friday, May 18 – 7:30 PM

Stanley Rubin Tribute In-Person! Monogram Noir Double-Header!!

DECOY, 1946, Monogram, 76 min. Dir. Jack Bernhard. This film caused such a sensation at last year's Film Noir Fest that we've brought it back - just to see the jaws of dumbfounded viewers drop once again! Jean Gillie plays the most whacked-out femme fatale of them all in this deliriously impoverished crime drama. Writer Stanley Rubin will attempt to explain, post-screening, what the hell this was all about ...!

VIOLENCE, 1947, Monogram, 72 min. DECOY writer Stanley Rubin and director Jack Bernhard are at it again in this frantic Monogram offering about a female tabloid reporter mixing it up with jilted lovers, angry vets, homefront fascists, jaunty g-men - and sudden bouts of amnesia! A rambunctious example of Poverty Row at its best. Discussion following with screenwriter Stanley Rubin.

 

 

Saturday, May 19 – 5:00 PM

Virginia Mayo In-Person!

WHITE HEAT, 1949, Warner Bros., 114 min. Incredible direction by Raoul Walsh makes this, flat-out, one of the most electrifying crime thrillers ever made. Mama's boy Cody Jarrett is the quintessential Jimmy Cagney performance, an invigorating example of a star's titanic personality merging with the fiction to create an unforgettable character. The stellar supporting cast includes Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Steve Cochran, and Margaret Wycherly as "Ma." If you've never seen the explosive climax on a big screen, here's your chance! Discussion following with actress Virginia Mayo.

 

 

Saturday, May 19 – 8:00 PM

THE WELL, 1951, Wade Williams, 85 min. Dirs. Leo Popkin and Russell Rouse. Small town sheriff Richard Rober confronts an all-out race riot when drifter Henry Morgan is accused of killing a young black girl. Unknown to the town's warring factions, the girl is trapped at the bottom of an abandoned well. Eschewing the preachy sanctimony of Hollywood "message pictures," this is a gritty, nerve-jangling noir that deftly handles its socially-conscious theme.

 

 

Sunday, May 20 – 5:00 PM

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, 1946, 20th Century Fox, 111 min. Dir. John Stahl. Exhibit A in the argument that film noir isn't always black and white. Don't let the stunningly lush Technicolor fool you - this big-budget soap opera has the blackest of hearts and is as perverse and malignant as it got in the Forties. Novelist Cornell Wilde falls for gorgeous Gene Tierney, but has no idea of the darkness lurking behind those emerald eyes. A rare chance to see Leon Shamroy's Oscar-winning cinematography on the big screen.

 

 

Sunday, May 20 – 7:30 PM

THE SECOND WOMAN, 1951, Wade Williams, 91 min. Dir. James V. Kern. "Lonely mansion noir" could be a genre all to itself, and this is one of the best. Robert Young plays an architect haunted by guilt over the accidental death of his fiancee. Madness slowly seeps inside his spectacular home on the California cliffs - but, of course, nothing is as it seems.

 

 

Wednesday, May 23 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature!

HE RAN ALL THE WAY, 1951, MGM/UA, 78 min. Dir. John Berry. John Garfield's final film role, and one of his best. He talks a young woman (Shelley Winters) into inviting him home for dinner -- but he takes her family hostage once they realize he's wanted for a cop-killing. The daughter falls for him anyway, seeing a kindred spirit who only wants to escape tenement life. Taut and claustrophobic, with superb performances and bold cinematography by James Wong Howe.

Brand New 35 mm. Print! THE BROTHERS RICO 1957, Columbia (Sony), 92 min. Pulp cinema meister Phil Karlson adapts George Simenon’s novel in the terse, hardboiled style we’ve grown to expect from the director who gave us 99 RIVER STREET and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL . Reluctant mob accountant and family man Richard Conte postpones his retirement from the gang in an attempt to save his two brothers who’ve been marked for death. With James Darren, Kathryn Grant.

 

Friday, May 25 – 7:30 PM *note screening order is correct here.

"Lost" Universal Noir Double-Header!

UNDER THE GUN, 1950, Universal, 83 min. One of the most elusive of all film noirs, finally rediscovered: Richard Conte and Audrey Totter head a Grade-A cast in a gangster saga set on a prison work farm. Totter recalls it being a "terrific picture." Be here when this one unspools in the first theatrical screening in four decades! From director Ted Tetzlaff, who helmed the excellent THE WINDOW.

SHAKEDOWN, 1950, Universal, 80 min. This one’s so rare that our screening is like a second premiere! Howard Duff plays a Weegee-like tabloid photographer caught up in a blackmail scheme that gets him in dutch with the mob. Costarring Brian Donlevy and Lawrence Tierney. One of the first films directed by Joe Pevney, one of the most recognizable noir character actors of the era (BODY & SOUL, THIEVES’ HIGHWAY). Audrey Totter will appear for discussion following the screening.

 

 

Saturday, May 26 – 2:00 – 4:00 PM

Free Seminar & Booksigning:

"Dark City Dames" – Moderated by author Eddie Muller!!

On Saturday, the Cinematheque will host a seminar and book signing for Dark City Dames, noir expert Eddie Muller's latest work, which explores the lives and careers of six of Hollywood's original femmes fatales. Participating in the event will be noir icons Jane Greer, Audrey Totter, Coleen Gray, Ann Savage, and Evelyn Keyes. (Marie Windsor, sadly, died last December.) This may be the only opportunity for film noir fans to have a copy of Dark City Dames signed by all five actresses - !

 

Saturday, May 26 – 5:00 PM

Joan Leslie In-Person!

REPEAT PERFORMANCE, 1947, JED Films, 93 min. Dir. Alfred Werker. A rare theatrical screening of a virtually forgotten classic. On New Year's Eve, a Broadway actress (Joan Leslie) murders her two-timing husband. But a mysterious friend grants her the chance to relive the previous year, to correct the mistakes that led to tragedy. Will there be a . . . repeat performance? The film for which director Alfred (HE WALKED BY NIGHT) Werker should be remembered. Discussion following with actress Joan Leslie.

 

Saturday, May 26 – 7:30 PM

Jeff Corey and Margaret Kerry In-Person!

THE KILLERS, 1946, Universal, 105 min. With Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Jeff Corey. It's sometimes called the CITIZEN KANE of film noir: it starts with the end – a death -- and backtracks through interweaving stories to reveal the lies and betrayals that led to the opening scene. The script by Anthony Veiller (with uncredited help from John Huston) takes the first 10 minutes from Hemingway's short story and then spirals into the noir netherworld Robert Siodmak depicted better than any other director.

CANON CITY, 1948, 82 min. With Scott Brady, Jeff Corey, Whit Bissell. A gripping jailbreak yarn that's the crowning achievement of an eccentric Hollywood independent – director Crane Wilbur – who was obsessed with making prison movies. This one is based on an actual 1947 bust-out; the first half is presented in classic 'semidocumentary" style. Once the cons are loose, cameraman John Alton takes over, turning their escape and ensuing manhunt into a stark noir nightmare. Discussion between films with actors Jeff Corey and Margaret Kerry.

 

Sunday, May 27 – 5:00 PM

Overlooked & Underrated – Andrew Stone Double-Feature:

CRY TERROR, 1958, MGM (Warner Classics), 96 min. If you enjoyed HIGHWAY 301 in last year’s Noir Fest, here are two more gems from director Andrew Stone. Plausibility gets bulldozed in this diabolical "mad bomber" caper, in which Rod Steiger forces suburbanite James Mason to assist in an elaborate extortion scheme. Inger Stevens is the stalwart wife held captive by a smarmy crew of henchmen (Jack Klugman, Angie Dickinson and a vile Neville Brand). Exciting location photography in and around 1950s New York.

THE STEEL TRAP, 1952, 20th Century Fox, 85 min. Another spring-wound suspenser from the criminally under-valued Andrew L. Stone. He wrote and directed this riveting tale of a light-fingered bank clerk (Joseph Cotten) whose heavy conscience forces him to attempt a daring after-hours RETURN of the cash he's lifted from the vault! Teresa Wright tries to help him back to the straight and narrow, before he's exposed as the thief.