March 29 - April 14,  2002

American Cinematheque Presents...

Side Streets and Back Alleys: The 4th Annual Festival of Film Noir

 

Series Compiled by Eddie Muller, Dennis Bartok and Chris D.

Special Thanks to: Marvin Paige; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS. CLASSICS; Michael Schlesinger and Grover Crisp/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Mike Mashon/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; Ray Regis/UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA – Film Archive; Seth Kittay; Summer Brown/MASTER LICENSING INC.; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL FOCUS; Peter Langs/IPMA; Shawn Belston/20th CENTURY FOX; Rob Stone and Todd Wiener/UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE; Fritz Herzog/ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES – Film Archive; Scott MacQueen and Howard Green/WALT DISNEY CO.; Cathye Clark/PARAMOUNT PICTURES REPERTORY; Chuck Lindsley; Mark Haggard; Lee Sanders; Joe Dante; Anne Goodman/CRITERION PICTURES; Eric Chaykin.

2001 Film Noir Festival

Tickets available 30 days in advance.

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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. This year, we continue our quest to bring renowned classics back to the big screen, and to unearth obscure delights that have slipped beneath the radar screen of even the savviest noir fans. The Festival kicks off with a rare screening of the seminal crime drama THE NAKED CITY, followed by a discussion with screenwriter Malvin Wald. Other highlights include such delirious thrillers as the aptly-titled WHIPLASH, CRACK-UP and ROADBLOCK, an in-person tribute to director Joseph Newman featuring his long-lost, pre-noir "Crime Does Not Pay" shorts, early rarities by the late, great Budd Boetticher, and such buried treasures as BLIND ALLEY, APOLOGY FOR MURDER and TWO OF A KIND.

This year, we’re proud to present a festival-long tribute to director Robert Siodmak (1900 – 1973), arguably Hollywood's definitive practitioner of "noir style" in such classics as THE KILLERS, CRISS CROSS and THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY. Born in the U.S. (by a twist of fate), but raised in Germany, the Jewish Siodmak was part of an incredibly talented wave of émigrés – including brother Curt, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and others – who fled Nazi Germany in the early 1930’s. Once in Hollywood, he created, in rapid succession a series of films that stand as the most personal noir oeuvre of any Hollywood director. Whether Edwardian melodramas or contemporary crime capers, Siodmak infused his tales with the essential noir ingredients: enticing seductiveness, palpable dread, and romantic fatalism. We think you'll agree that no one did noir as smoothly, as steadily, or as superbly, as Robert Siodmak.

 

Friday, March 29 – 7:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Screenwriter Malvin Wald In-Person!!

THE NAKED CITY, 1948, Mark Hellinger Prod., 96 min. Dir. Jules Dassin. The festival kicks off with a rare screening of a landmark crime movie. Producer Mark Hellinger's hardboiled tribute to his beloved Big Apple peels away all the stylistic melodramatics of noir to present Hollywood's first true policier. Scrupulously researched writing by Malvin Wald and vivid location photography by William Daniels (an Oscar-winner) combined to make this one of the most influential Hollywood films of the 1940s. With Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Don Taylor, Dorothy Hart, and a very scary Ted deCorsia.Discussion following with screenwriter Malvin Wald.

 

Friday, March 29 – 9:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Robert Siodmak Tribute:

PHANTOM LADY, 1944, Universal, 87 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. Loyal and lovely Ella Raines is "one hep kitten" as she high-heels her way through the noir demimonde, searching for the missing woman who can save her boss from execution. Siodmak wrings every juicy bit of shadowy mystery out of writer Cornell Woolrich's masterpiece of suspense. Famous for Elisha Cook's manic interlude as a wigged-out jazz drummer, beating his sticks to a frenzy! One of the 1944 films that triggered Hollywood's infatuation with dark artistry.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, 1944, 92 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. One of our most requested films, finally screened! A troubled singer (Deanna Durbin) spends a stormy night in New Orleans spinning a tale of woe for a broken-hearted soldier: she married a mama’s boy who's locked up in prison, but she still carries a torch for him. Siodmak cleverly unfolds W. Somerset Maugham's backtracking story, while Gene Kelly (!) uses his avuncular charm to mask a murderous streak. Forget IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE -- this is our idea of proper Yuletide fare.

 

Saturday, March 30 – 4:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Please join us for a special Booksigning with acclaimed noir author and festival co-programmer Eddie Muller of his debut crime novel, The Distance, in the lobby of the Egyptian Theatre! The book will be for sale at the theatre.

 

Saturday, March 30 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Actor Jack Palance In-Person!!

PANIC IN THE STREETS, 1950, 20th Century Fox, 93 min. Dir. Elia Kazan. Killers Jack Palance and Zero Mostel carry a deadly plague through the New Orleans underworld. Paul Douglas is the hardened cop hot on their trail. Doctor Richard Widmark (for once a good guy) knows there's only 48 hours to contain the epidemic. He skirts the law to find the culprits himself. Creepy locations and sizzling suspense (as well as typically strong Kazan-inspired performances) propel this manhunt thriller. Discussion following with actor Jack Palance.

 

Saturday, March 30 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Double Feature: Actresses Barbara Billingsly & Gigi Perreau In Person!

THE SHADOW ON THE WALL, 1950, MGM (Warners), 84 min. Dir. Patrick Jackson. Ann Sothern, beloved comedienne and star of the popular Maisie film series, is cast against type as a woman who'll stop at nothing to hide her guilt in a murder -- including snuffing out a 10 year-old girl who's a possible witness! In his first feature following a distinguished career as a documentarian, British director Pat Jackson was liberated by the genre's expressionistic flourishes; he concocted an unjustly overlooked gem.

WHIPLASH, 1948, Warner Bros., 91 min. Dir. Lewis Seiler. Mix OUT OF THE PAST with BODY AND SOUL and what do you get? An artist who falls for a mystery woman, pursues her to the Big Apple, and ends up fighting for the Middleweight Championship! Pugnacious Dane Clark is artist/boxer Mike Angelo (get it?), Alexis Smith is his sexy siren, Eve Arden the sassy girlfriend, Douglas Kennedy the scar-faced gunsel, and best of all, Zachary Scott as a sadistic wheelchair-bound fight manager! "Whiplash" is what you'll get keeping up with the plot, which culminates in a smashing finale! Actresses Barbara Billingsly and Gigi Perreau will appear in person for discussion.

 

Sunday, March 31 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Robert Siodmak Tribute:

THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, 1946, Walt Disney Co., 83 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. When he made this film, Siodmak's reputation for suspense rivaled Hitchcock's. A dread-drenched atmosphere permeates this spine-tingling Gothic thriller. Dorothy McGuire is memorable as a mute servant girl who becomes the terrified target of a serial killer preying on handicapped women. A superb cast, including Ethel Barrymore, Elsa Lanchester and Rhonda Fleming, give vivid life to scripter Mel Dinelli's adaptation of Ethel White's novel Some Must Watch.

 

Sunday, March 31 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Double-Feature:

BLACK ANGEL, 1946, Universal, 80 min. Dir. Roy William Neill. In this spellbinding adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's thriller, noir favorite Dan Duryea is a piano player on the skids whose estranged wife is murdered. When her husband is booked for the crime, chanteuse June Vincent enlists Duryea's help in a desperate search for the real killer. Broderick Crawford and Peter Lorre add muscle and menace to the typically warped Woolrich atmosphere.

ROADBLOCK, 1951, Warner Bros., 73 min. Dir. Harold Daniels. After several years of playing tenacious cops or cruel torpedos, character actor Charles McGraw was elevated to leading man status by RKO boss Howard Hughes, becoming the studio's "B" version of Bob Mitchum. Nobody could clip off dialogue like McGraw. In this prototypical noir, he finally reveals a soft center, as an insurance investigator who goes crooked trying to satisfy an avaricious dame (Joan Dixon).

 

Wednesday, April 3 – 7:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Double-Feature – Actress Audrey Totter & Actor Harry Lewis In-Person!!

THE HIGH WALL, 1947, MGM (Warner Classics), 100 min. Dir. Curtis Bernhardt. Robert Taylor is a bomber pilot with a fuzzy memory. When his wife turns up dead, he's convinced that he killed her. Audrey Totter is the sympathetic doctor who's not so eager to lock Taylor away. Underrated director Bernhardt plays it in high style, maintaining a fast pace and bleak tone. For a studio that purportedly disdained crime pictures, MGM produced some of the best. Here's a classic example.

THE UNSUSPECTED, 1947, Warner Bros., 103 min. Dir. Michael Curtiz. Noir favorite Audrey Totter is only one of the standout performers in this stylish and sophisticated mystery. A dead woman in the mansion of a famous radio personality (Claude Rains) sets in motion a complex web of deceit and murder, all enacted in grand style among inky shadows courtesy of camera virtuoso Woody Bredell (THE KILLERS). Brooding meditation on the evil of art? Or just smart and sinister fun? Discussion between films with actress Audrey Totter (schedule permitting) & Actor Harry Lewis (is not able to attend).

 

Thursday, April 4 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Bad Girl Double-Bill – Actress Ann Savage In-Person!!

APOLOGY FOR MURDER, 1945, PRC, 67 min. Dir. Sam Newfield. Calling all true noir junkies and devoteés of DETOUR! Many of you have heard of it, but few have actually seen it. Now, from deep in the Dark City's vaults, we present the notorious PRC knockoff of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, in which venerable vixen Ann Savage puts Hugh Beaumont ("Leave It To Beaver’s" Ward Cleaver!) through his paces. Sam Newfield's no Edgar Ulmer, but as far as we're concerned -- give Ms. Savage a gat and some nasty dialogue, and she can send us straight to heaven.

BAD BLONDE, 1953, Lippert/Hammer, 81 min. Dir. Reginald Leborg. "They called me BAD . . . Spelled M-E-N!" boasted ads for this slice of British sleaze, starring America's disgraced sex bomb Barbara Payton (who later became an infamous Hollywood call girl). After wiggling to stardom as a Warners starlet, Payton's wild life (including a scandalous affair with DETOUR’s Tom Neal) caught up with her. Persona non grata with U.S. studios, Payton let it all hang out with this, her signature film, in which she ruins the life of an up-and-coming young boxer (Tony Wright). Discussion between films with actress Ann Savage (APOLOGY FOR MURDER).

 

Friday, April 5 – 7:00 PM

FILM NOIR

CRACK-UP, 1946, RKO (Warners), 93 min. Dir. Irving Reis. Art curator Pat O'Brien survives a train wreck only to discover that the accident never happened. Could someone be playing tricks with his mind? Is trusty girlfriend Claire Trevor really that trustworthy? And what's Herbert Marshall getting into down in the museum's basement? Unjustly neglected among more familiar RKO tough-guy fare, this engrossing and innovative thriller is one of that studio's best.

 

Friday, April 5 – 9:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Robert Siodmak Tribute:

THE SUSPECT, 1944, Universal, 85 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. Purists may argue that the Edwardian setting isn't truly noir. We counter by maintaining that whenever a lovelorn sap murders his wife to pursue a feckless young philly -- it's noir in any era. Charles Laughton is trapped in a loveless marriage, Ella Raines is his ticket out. One of Robert Siodmak's most subtle and suspenseful films, comparable to the best of Hitchcock.

THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY, 1945, Paramount, 80 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. When brazen beauty Ella Raines steals the heart of reserved milquetoast George Sanders, his domineering, incestuous sister (Geraldine Fitzgerald) refuses to turn him loose. Few directors conveyed repressed desire as strongly and subtly as Siodmak, and Uncle Harry's straight laces keep poisonous passions in check only so long. Sibling dysfunction soon hits diabolical heights. Based on a notorious stage play, this is one of Siodmak's most disturbing films.

 

Saturday, April 6 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

ROAD HOUSE, 1948, 20th Century Fox, 95 min. Dir. Jean Negulesco. A star-powered faceoff between two film noir legends: sassy Ida Lupino and psychotic Richard Widmark. Sparks fly when Ida takes a job crooning in Widmark's rural roadhouse, but when she throws him over for his boyhood chum (Cornel Wilde) things really heat up. Ida sings the classics "One for My Baby" and "Again."

 

Saturday, April 6 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Double Feature:

BLIND ALLEY, 1939, Columbia, 71 min. Dir. Charles Vidor. Plenty of film scholars have neglected this trim and moody "B" as one of the first identifiable films noir. Chester Morris escapes from prison and holds a family hostage. Patriarch Ralph Bellamy is the psychiatrist who tries to disarm his captor with regression therapy. One of the first Hollywood films to delve into psychoanalysis, it features taut direction and Lucien Ballard's evocative camerawork. Remade in 1949 as THE DARK PAST.

BLIND SPOT, 1947, Columbia, 73 min. Dir. Robert Gordon. A quintessential example of the ingenious, low-rent glory of "B" movies. Veteran Columbia star Chester Morris snuck away from his popular "Boston Blackie" series to deliver a terrific performance as a hard-luck writer accused of murdering his publisher. Twists and turns come fast and furious as he tries to puzzle his way out of the tightening noose.

 

Sunday, April 7 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Actress Colleen Miller In-Person!!

MAN IN THE SHADOW, 1957, Universal, 80 min. Dir. Jack Arnold. In this cow-town noir, a do-right sheriff (Jeff Chandler) runs afoul of a modern day cattle baron (Orson Welles) trying to cover up a murder. Unexpected help appears in the comely shape of the boss man's daughter (Colleen Miller). Director Arnold (renowned for sci-fi/horror classics like THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) lays on the atmosphere in a film that cleverly relocates a classic noir policier to a sagebrush setting. The following year, producer Albert Zugsmith and star Welles would re-team for TOUCH OF EVIL. Discussion following with actress Colleen Miller.

 

Sunday, April 7 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Actor Terry Moore In-Person!!

TWO OF A KIND, 1951, Columbia, 75 min. Dir. Henry Levin. A primary mission of this festival is to unearth buried noir, and here we proudly present one of the most rarely-screened, a one-time pairing of genre icons Edmond O'Brien and Lizabeth Scott. O'Brien is enlisted by hucksters Scott and Alexander Knox to impersonate a wealthy couple's missing heir. Schemes, hearts, and fingers all get duly crushed. With Terry Moore as the unsuspecting niece who falls for Eddie's act. Discussion between films with actor Terry Moore.

 

Wednesday, April 10 – 7:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Double Feature:

FRAMED, 1947, Columbia, 82 min. Dir. Richard Wallace. Glenn Ford, Columbia's tight-lipped "Everyman," barrels innocently into a small Northern California town and is quickly lured into a tangle of embezzlement, adultery and murder. Janis Carter is the long, tall drink of delicious poison he can't resist, Barry Sullivan the not-so-unwitting cuckold. Ben Maddow's script plays all the notes originated by Hammett and Cain, and has terrific fun doing it.

THE RECKLESS MOMENT, 1949, Columbia, 82 min. Dir. Max Ophuls. Suburban housewife Joan Bennett goes to extraordinary lengths to cover up a murder committed by her daughter. Then blackmailer James Mason enters the picture: sadist or saint? Top of the line suspense from the great Max Ophuls. Remade last year as THE DEEP END -- see the original and decide for yourself if you'd rather have Joan Bennett or Tilda Swinton for a mother.

 

Friday, April 12 – 7:00 PM

FILM NOIR

MOONRISE, 1948, Republic (Paramount), 90 min. Dir. Frank Borzage. Southern boy Dane Clark kills lifelong tormentor Lloyd Bridges and buries the body. But he's hounded by a persistent sheriff and his own haunted conscience. Does he really possess the "bad blood" of his father, an executed criminal? Known mainly for his heartfelt romances, Borzage brings intense visual poetry to this noir melodrama, one of the most brilliantly directed films of the forties.

 

Friday, April 12 – 9:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Robert Siodmak Tribute:

THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON, 1949, Paramount, 100 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. Barbara Stanwyck is a complex, ambiguous femme fatale who ensnares lovelorn assistant D.A. Wendell Corey in a murder scheme. While the pot boils in familiar fashion, Siodmak invests the traditional recipe with a genuine sense of longing and loss. This was the final film noir Siodmak made before abandoning Hollywood, and we're thrilled to give it a rare theatrical screening beside some of the director's more well-known works.

CRY OF THE CITY, 1948, 20th Century Fox, 95 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. Perhaps the most perfectly realized of all Siodmak's films, both thematically and stylistically, CRY OF THE CITY tells the time-honored tale of neighborhood pals who tread divergent courses. Victor Mature stays to the right, while Richard Conte veers outside the law. Their paths are fated to cross, tragically. Siodmak has no use for the popular semi-documentary vogue of the time, creating instead a vividly expressionistic urban landscape for this classic of "good" versus "evil." With memorable support from Shelley Winters and Hope Emerson.

 

Saturday, April 13 - 10:30 AM

Sunday. April 14 - 10:30 AM

EGYPTIAN THEATRE HISTORIC TOURS

FOREVER HOLLYWOOD will screen at 11:35 AM on both days.

 

Saturday, April 13 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

Joseph Newman Tribute In Person!

For those of you who caught the terrific 711 OCEAN DRIVE during our 2nd Noir Fest, we’re thrilled to have that film’s director, Joseph Newman, join us again! First, we’re screening five of Newman’s pulp-filled, pre-noir "Crime Does Not Pay" Shorts: "Money To Loan" (1939) unscrupulous loan sharks work their clients over, repossess cars and even kill an old man, "Women In Hiding" (1940) a maternity home botches deliveries and adopts babies out of the arms of unwed mothers against their wishes. With Marsha Hunt; "Respect The Law" (1941), and the two Academy Award nominated shorts "Don’t Talk" (1942) Its wartime and a ring of spies are sabotaging the war industry efforts in a small town. An to think that Buelah the waitress at the Elite DIner is behind it all! and "The Luckiest Guy In The World" (1946), a business man accidentally kills his wife when she won't turn over her small inheritance so he can repay money he took from the company to repay gambling debts. He even fakes his own death, but fate catches up with him in the end. MGM (Warners), approx. 20 min. each. Followed by:

THE HUMAN JUNGLE, 1954, Allied Artists, 82 min. Dir. Joseph Newman. This hard-edged policier plunges viewers into one day in the life of the city's most vile precinct, as an ambitious cop (Gary Merrill) attempts to clean house. A vivid mid-Fifties time capsule, with a terrific cast (Jan Sterling, Paula Raymond, Chuck Connors) and energetic direction by Hollywood veteran Newman (who began his career in the movie business back in 1925-!) Don't miss the chance to see this rarity on the big screen! Discussion following with director Joseph Newman and actress Jan Sterling (schedule permitting).

 

Saturday, April 13 – 9:15 PM

FILM NOIR

Budd Boetticher Double-Feature:

ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT, 1944, Columbia, 61 min. Dir. Budd Boetticher. ESCAPE IN THE FOG, 1945, Columbia, 65 min. Dir. Budd Boetticher. In honor of the late, great Budd Boetticher, who passed away last November, we're pleased to present a pair of his earliest Columbia program pictures! In ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT (Budd’s first film as director), Chester Morris stars as ex- thief Boston Blackie, forced to clear himself on charges of stealing a priceless gem. Leggy femme fatale Janis Carter makes a frosty foil. In ESCAPE IN THE FOG, Nina Foch stars as a Woolrich-like heroine haunted by a dream of murder, who ends up meeting the victim in her waking life. Enjoy this rare opportunity to see a true "B" double bill, as originally intended: on a movie screen, not a VCR!!

 

Sunday, April 14 – 5:00 PM

FILM NOIR

PUSHOVER, 1954, Columbia, 91 min. Dir. Richard Quine. First-rate thriller that deftly links two noir icons: the crooked cop and the femme fatale. Fred MacMurray is the taciturn flatfoot who falls hard for sexy Kim Novak -- a thorny predicament, as she's the moll of the gangster he's staking out in a downtown hotel. Crime whiz Roy Huggins' script is a brisk trip through venerable terrain, and the players are pitch-perfect.

 

Sunday, April 14 – 7:30 PM

FILM NOIR

Robert Siodmak Tribute - Double-Feature:

CRISS CROSS, 1949, Universal, 87 min. Dir. Robert Siodmak. When he died in 1947, producer Mark Hellinger had just begun pre-production on this crime-infected love story. Thanks to the inspired vision of director Siodmak, CRISS CROSS now stands as perhaps the most darkly poetic rendering of amour fou in all film noir. Burt Lancaster and Dan Duryea plot a daring heist, while vying for the affections of sensual Yvonne DeCarlo. Remade by Stephen Soderbergh as THE UNDERNEATH.

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.