April 2 - 15, 1999

 

Eight nights of triple bills. Welcome to film noir heaven!

American Cinematheque presents...

SIDE STREETS AND BACK ALLEYS:

THE FIRST ANNUAL FESTIVAL

OF FILM NOIR

 

FILM NOIR SCHEDULE

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EGYPTIAN THEATRE

[All films in 35 mm., except TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY, THE THIEF and THE UNDERWORLD STORY.]

Eddie Muller’s new book DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR (St. Martin’s Griffin Press) will be on-sale throughout the series.

Saturday, April 3rd - 5:30 PM

Booksigning with Eddie Muller - author of DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR [Egyptian Theatre Lobby].

Saturday, April 10th - 5:30 PM

Booksigning with Eddie Muller - author of DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR [Egyptian Theatre Lobby]

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

Special Thanks To: John Kirk/MGM-UA; Martin Scorsese; Margaret Bodde/CAPPA PRODUCTIONS; Linda Evans-Smith/WARNER BROS. CLASSICS; Mike Schlesinger/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Jan Bilson, Mark Meyerson and Alison Pinsler/20TH CENTURY FOX; Donna Ross/UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE; Selma Luttinger; Ed Zeier/ UNIVERSAL STUDIOS; Scott Kennedy/KIT PARKER FILMS; Doug Lemza/CRITERION PICTURES; Wade Williams; Seth Kittay; Susan Gold and David Sehring/AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS; Marc Scheffen/CINEMATHEQUE LUXEMBOURG; Mark Haggard; Jeff Joseph/SABUCAT FILMS; Anne Morra/MUSEUM OF MODERN ART; Ken Kramer.

 

** If two or more films are listed as playing on the same day with the same start time, then they are double or triple features. One admission is good for all movies listed as part of the double feature. There is approximately a 10 minute internmission between films. If there is a Q & A advertised, then the time between films will be longer.


"Film Noirs were distress flares launched onto America’s movie screens by artists working the night shift at the Dream Factory." -- Eddie Muller, DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR

No one knows when it began. In the cruel shadows of Fritz Lang’s M? The expressionistic paranoia of Boris Ingster’s STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR? The hardboiled duplicity of John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON? What we do know is that the doom-laden crime dramas that came to be known as film noir represented one of the rare organic artistic movements in Hollywood history.

It erupted full-bore in the late Forties, and was all but extinguished by the mid-Fifties, well before the term film noir ever caught on in this country. Noir’s dark sorcery lingers on, in works both revisionist (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) and parodic (THE BIG LEBOWSKI). But if you think you’ve mined all the jewels the classic era has to offer, think again. We’ve rediscovered a ration of botched bank jobs and lethal love-nests, hidden away in long-forgotten alleyways and high-risk hotels. They range from rarely-screened classics like BRUTE FORCE and NIGHTMARE ALLEY, to neglected gems by B-movie maestros Felix Feist, Cy Endfield and Russell Rouse. And our 1st Annual Noir Festival features special in-person appearances by legendary femmes fatale Marie Windsor, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Savage, Coleen Gray, Audrey Totter. Lizabeth Scott and Rhonda Fleming, as well as master-directors Robert Wise, Budd Boetticher and Richard Fleischer - !

 Schedule

Friday, April 2nd - 7:00 PM

Marie Windsor Tribute - In-Person!

THE NARROW MARGIN, 1952, RKO (Warner Classics), 71 min. Dir. Richard Fleischer. This always receives its share of votes as one of the finest noirs ever made -- and the spiciest of its many ingredients is the unforgettable Marie Windsor. She and co-star Charles McGraw trade priceless purple putdowns as he ferries her across the rails from Chicago to L.A., where she’s scheduled to testify in a racketbusting trial. Plenty of switchbacks along the way, rendered with maximum punch and pace by director Richard Fleischer -- with amazing, claustrophobic camerawork by the still-underrated George Diskant. Discussion following with actress Marie Windsor and director Richard Fleischer.

Friday, April 2nd - 9:30 PM

Double Feature! Noir-Master Richard Fleischer - In Person!

ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, 1950, RKO (Warner Classics), 67 min. Dir. Richard Fleischer. Sensational B-movie cops and robbers stuff: steely Charles McGraw tracks down the gang that killed his partner in a daring daylight robbery outside Wrigley Field ballpark. Featuring the shapely Adele Jurgens and an especially reptilian performance by noir villain extraordinaire William Talman. A sturdy crime thriller without a single wasted movement -- directed by noir-master Richard Fleischer!

New 35 mm. Print! VIOLENT SATURDAY, 1955, 20th Century Fox, 91 min. Dir. Richard Fleischer. Film noir gets the full mid-Fifties treatment -- lush color and Cinemascope -- in this vivid adaptation of W.B. Heath’s classic caper novel. Victor Mature and Sylvia Sidney head a terrific cast (including Lee Marvin in his thuggish prime), in this complex tale of the build-up to a small-town bank heist. Director Richard Fleischer to introduce screenings.

Saturday, April 3rd - 5:30 PM

Booksigning with Eddie Muller - author of DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR [Egyptian Theatre Lobby].

Saturday, April 3rd - 7:00 PM

Evelyn Keyes Tribute - In-Person!

THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK, 1950, Columbia, 79 min. Dir. Earl McEvoy. Radiant Evelyn Keyes glows with something deadly in this underrated tale of a jewel-smuggler spreading smallpox throughout the Big Apple. A noir tale of infidelity and deceit, played out against the escalating panic of a city-wide epidemic. The vertiginous climax is a noir classic, heightened by Joseph Biroc’s moody cinematography. Discussion following with actress Evelyn Keyes.

Saturday, April 3rd - 9:30 PM

Double Feature!! 2 x Phil Karlson - New 35 mm. Prints!!

99 RIVER STREET, 1953, U.A., 83 min. An aspiring actress (Evelyn Keyes again!) gets entangled with a washed-up boxer (John Payne) framed for his trampy wife’s murder. They’ve only got a few hours to hunt down the real killer. Nobody crafted rugged crime dramas better than director Phil Karlson, and this is one of his best. Keyes lights up the screen in her breathless "confession" scene, and crooner Payne is a convincing noir nighthawk.

KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, 1952, U.A., 98 min. Dir. Phil Karlson. Bitter ex-con John Payne vows vengeance on the mastermind who set him up as the patsy in a daring Kansas City robbery. When the gang meets later in a Mexican fishing resort to split the spoils, the double-crosses fly fast and furious. The indelible cast includes Preston Foster, Coleen Gray, Lee van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam. One of the great caper films.

Tuesday, April 6th - 7:00 PM

Robert Wise - In-Person!

BORN TO KILL, 1947, RKO (Warner Classics), 92 min. Dir. Robert Wise. Unquestionably the most depraved picture made in Hollywood in the 1940’s, maybe ever: Lawrence Tierney, the meanest man in noir, plays a homicidal social climber who meets his match in debased San Francisco socialite Claire Trevor. He marries her wealthy half-sister (Audrey Long), but carries on his torried affair with Claire while tenacious detective Walter Slezak hunts him down. This murderous, panting pair make MacMurray and Stanwyck (DOUBLE INDEMNITY) seem like pikers. Elisha Cook Jr. is Tierney’s justifiably nervous pal. Discussion following with director Robert Wise.

Tuesday, April 6th - 9:30 PM

Double Feature!  2 x Jules Dassin!

BRUTE FORCE, 1947, 98 min. Intense, violent and nihilistic to the extreme, this Jules Dassin-directed prison drama is the bleakest, most despairing film noir of them all. Burt Lancaster plots a breakout for the inmates of Cell R-17, so that they can escape the inhuman sadism of jailer Hume Cronyn. The climactic prison break was a shocker for its time, as the bust-out erupts into full-throttle warfare. Still the most unforgettable men-behind-bars picture ever made -- courtesy of noir-legend Dassin (NAKED CITY, NIGHT AND THE CITY.)

Rare 35 mm. Print from UCLA Film & TV Archive!

THIEVES’ HIGHWAY, 1949, Fox, 94 min. Tough-as-nails Richard Conte returns from the war to find his trucker-father crippled by a shady "accident" -- so Conte heads straight for San Francisco to take his revenge on corrupt produce broker Lee J. Cobb. Complicating matters even more, he has to choose between cool blonde wasp Barbara Lawrence and earthy European refugee Valentina Cortesa. Director Jules Dassin’s leftist leanings (which would lead to his ouster from Hollywood) found their most subtle outlet in this fabulous noir, written by A.I. Bezzerides (ON DANGEROUS GROUND, KISS ME DEADLY).

Wednesday, April 7th - 7:00 PM

Ann Savage Tribute - In-Person!

DETOUR, 1945, PRC (Wade Williams), 69 min. Hitchhiking to Hollywood, loser Tom Neal takes several wrong turns and ends up on the expressway to hell -- Ann Savage plays the vixenish vagabond who ushers him there. She ends uppaying a stiff toll herself. This haunting film, shot in only six days, is for many the definitive example of noir fatalism -- be sure to check out our retrospective tribute to director Edgar G. Ulmer in August at the Egyptian Theatre! Discussion following with actress Ann Savage.

Wednesday, April 7th - 9:30 PM

Overlooked & Underrated - Felix Feist Triple Bill!!

THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE, 1947, RKO (Warner Classics), 62 min. Dir. Felix Feist. This loopy item has legendary status among "B" movies, due to the frigid, amoral performance of Lawrence Tierney as a hitchhiking, homicidalmaniac. He commandeers a car full of innocents for a harrowing, dead-of-night adventure that veers from snide comedy to cold-blooded shocks. Like DETOUR, this no-budget wonder is best viewed late, when its black magic takes full effect.

THE THREAT, 1949, RKO (Warner Classics), 66 min. A vicious gangster escapes from prison to capture and torture the cops and finks who jugged him. As the fearsome hardcase, tight-lipped Charles McGraw runs amok, slapping the entire cast senseless. Director Felix Feist had an unsettling flair for eruptions of cruelty and violence, and this little-known thriller is chock-full of them.

TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY, 1951, Warners, 90 min. Steve Cochran’s an ex-con who’s never been with a woman. Ruth Roman is a dime-a-dance dame with no use for sappy men. A hotel room, a dirty cop, a gunshot -- the perfect jump-off for a fugitives-on-the-run love story. This virtually unknown noir is Felix Feist’s masterwork, packed with revelatory set-pieces. Cochran was never more vulnerable, Roman never sexier. Imagine GUN CRAZY scripted by Steinbeck -- it’s that good.

Saturday, April 10th - 5:30 PM

Booksigning with Eddie Muller - author of DARK CITY: THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR [Egyptian Theatre Lobby].

Saturday, April 10th - 7:00 PM

Budd Boetticher and Rhonda Fleming In-Person!

THE KILLER IS LOOSE, 1956, U.A., 73 min. Best-known for his awesome Randolph Scott-westerns (THE TALL T, RIDE LONESOME), director Budd Boetticher here turned his camera on the Fifties suburban frontier -- where he finds a crazed psycho stalking the streets. Wendell Corey is memorable as the disturbed Korean War vet who decides to punish his life-long persecutors. Joseph Cotten is the cop in hot pursuit, wife Rhonda Fleming the dazzling lure. With terrific photography by d.p. Lucien Ballard. Discussion following with director Budd Boetticher and actress Rhonda Fleming.

Saturday, April 10th - 9:30 PM

Double Feature! Overlooked & Underrated - Russell Rouse

New 35 mm. Print!

WICKED WOMAN, 1954, U.A., 77 min. Dir. Russell Rouse. In this racy little B-movie, scarlet woman Beverly Michaels cons saloon owner Richard Egan into bilking his boozy wife out of her dough, then toys with the affections of slavering devotée Percy Helton. She plans on dumping both and leaving a dust trail to Mexico. Michaels was definitely director Rouse’s kind of woman: they married after making this picture -- an extra twist to this juicy noir.

THE THIEF, 1952, Wade Williams , 87 min. Who on earth would make a silent film in 1952?? Russell Rouse, that’s who! His take on the Red Menace genre is utterly unique: told from the p.o.v. of scientist Ray Milland, who is selling secrets to the Communists, THE THIEF features not a single word of dialogue!! The suspenseful storytelling is propelled by a terrific score by Herschel Burke Gilbert. A true noir rarity.

Sunday, April 11th - 5:00 PM

Coleen Gray Tribute - In-Person!

Mega-Rare Screening - 35 mm. Print!!

NIGHTMARE ALLEY, 1947, 20th Century Fox, 110 min. Dir. Edmund Goulding. One of the bleakest and most audacious "A" pictures ever to emerge from Hollywood. When handsome heartthrob Tyron Power read William Lindsay Gresham’s scathing novel, he snapped up the rights, eager to broaden his range (and tarnish his good-guy image). He’s terrific as a carny roustabout who hits the big-time as a phony "mentalist," but gets caught between the longings of devilish Helen Walker and angelic Coleen Gray. Long unavailable due to rights problems, NIGHTMARE ALLEY gets an ultra-rare screening here in a beautiful 35 mm. print -- don’t miss it!! Discussion following with Coleen Gray.

Sunday, April 11th - 7:45 PM

Double Feature! Overlooked & Underrated - John Auer

Brand New 35 mm. Print!

THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS, 1953, Republic (Kit Parker), 90 min. Few things are as satisfying as a down-and-dirty crime potboiler filled with ingenious plot twists and bursting with eccentric characters in life-or-death struggles. For a brief, seedy moment in the Fifties, this wanton and wonderful world was the stamping ground of producer/director John H. Auer and writer Steve Fisher. Here they present a sordid tale about one night in the urban jungle, narrated by the city (Chicago) itself! A superb cast of B-movie stalwarts (Gig Young, Edward Arnold, William Talman, Marie Windsor) highlights the story of a young cop ensnared in the shady dealings of a slew of sinister suspects -- including the tear-jerking Mechanical Man!

35 mm. Print from UCLA Film & TV Archive!

HELL’S HALF ACRE, 1954, Republic (Kit Parker), 91 min. Dir. John Auer. Filmed in the notorious red light district of Honolulu, this Auer/Fisher concoction is a delirious excursion into low-life noir. Evelyn Keyes becomes a taxi dancer to hunt for her missing G.I. husband Wendell Corey, who she believes is alive and writing hit songs in Hawaii! Little does she know he’s more than a simple songsmith -- he’s also a gangster vying with Philip Ahn for control of the island’s vice rackets. Toss the sultry and statuesque Marie Windsor into the mix, and it’s pulp nirvana. Imagine film noir with a slack-key guitar soundtrack ... as good as trashy B-movies get!

Plus, Sabucat’s Ultra-Rare FILM NOIR TRAILER SHOW! Join us for an hour-long blast of some of the best (and rarest) film noir trailers courtesy of Sabucat Films -- including promo spots for CRISS CROSS, THE GLASS KEY, NIGHTMARE ALLEY, BRUTE FORCE, NIAGARA and much more!!

Wednesday, April 14th - 7:00 PM

Audrey Totter Tribute - In-Person!

TENSION, 1949, MGM (Warner Classics), 95 min. Vampy sexpot Audrey Totter is married to mild-mannered druggist Richard Basehart -- but she sleeps with every "real man" she sees. So Basehart takes the noir way out -- kill his wife’s lover and disappear into a new identity. But cops Barry Sullivan and William Conrad smell a rat. Then Audrey and Barry eye each other ... and the tension is stretched to the breaking point. John Berry’s expert direction steamrolls plot holes flat -- and Audrey is a 100-proof hoot. Discussion following with actress Audrey Totter.

Wednesday, April 14th - 9:30 PM

Double Feature! Overlooked & Underrated - Cy Endfield

TRY AND GET ME, 1950, Republic (Kit Parker), 85 min. Dir. Cy Endfield. Out-of-work vet Frank Lovejoy gets talked into a crime spree by flashy hood Lloyd Bridges (in a memorable, squirm-inducing performance), and things swiftly turn deranged and desperate. A harsh, unsettling and unrelenting film that was given a new title (the original was THE SOUND OF FURY) and then quickly yanked from release amid fears that is was "un-American." (Director Cyril Endfield, sensing his imminent blacklisting, packed his bags for England -- where he wound up making the impressive ZULU.) Get ready for the gut-wrenching climax, brilliantly staged by Endfield and shot by Guy Roe.

THE UNDERWORLD STORY, 1950, 90 min. With Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, Howard da Silva. Another unjustly-neglected noir by director Cy Enfield, in which the always-entertaining Dan Duryea plays a cynical reporter who digs dangerously close to a corrupt publisher’s family secrets. With dazzling cinematography by the late, great Stanley Cortez (NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS).

 

Thursday, April 15th - 7:00 PM

Lizabeth Scott Tribute -- In-Person!

35 mm. Print from UCLA Film & TV Archive!

DESERT FURY, 1947, Paramount (Universal), 96 min. Dir. Lewis Allen. Lizabeth Scott in Technicolor glory -- swirls of yellow hair, emerald eyes, fire-engine red lips -- is truly something to behold, but she’s only one of the over-the-top treats in this very strange crime drama. Mary Astor seems a bit too-enamored of her own daughter (Liz), Wendell Corey is murderously-miffed at being tossed aside by John Hodiak, and beefcake Burt Lancaster seems oblivious to the mix-and-match sexuality surging around him. DESERT FURY is absolutely saturated -- incredibly lush colors, fast and furious dialogue dripping with innuendo, double-entendres, dark secrets, outraged face slappings, overwrought Miklos Rosza violins. This is Hollywood at its most gloriously berserk.Lizabeth Scott will appear for discussion following the film.

Thursday, April 15th - 9:30 PM

Double Feature!! The Road to Travis Bickle

MURDER BY CONTRACT, 1958, Columbia, 81 min. Cold, ruthless young man Vince Edwards decides to stake his place in the world as a hired killer -- and the world teaches him frigid, pitiless lessons. An ultra-low budget gem from director Irving Lerner, with a strangely-hypnotic pace and a spare, haunting musical theme by Perry Botkin that might never leave your head. A personal fave of director Martin Scorsese, who’s admitted this film’s influence on TAXI DRIVER -- particularly the Travis-in-training sequences.

THE SNIPER, 1952, Columbia, 87 min. A rarely-seen stunner from the early 50’s: tortured loner Arthur Franz stalks beautiful women (including NARROW MARGIN’s Marie Windsor) with a high-powered rifle, in the first film to seriously examine sex-motivated serial killers. The opening scenes of Franz prowling the streets of San Francisco have a completely unnerving, low-key realism to them -- courtesy of director Edward Dmytryk (CROSSFIRE) and cinematographer Burnett Guffey.  One of noir’s favorite themes was uxoricide (that’s wife-killing to the uninitiated): here, Richard Basehart stars a mild-mannered druggist who devises a complex scheme to eliminate his two-timing spouse -- played by the fabulous Audrey Totter at her manipulative best. Director John Berry wraps these low-brow goods in MGM’s typically high-gloss production, including some shimmering camerawork by the gifted Harry Stradling.

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