Apr 29, 2012

Another Week of NOIR CITY: 14th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF FILM NOIR - Screening This Week at The American Cinematheque - April 30 - May 6, 2012

This week has another jam packed schedule of great film Noir programming at the Egyptian presented in collaboration with the FILM NOIR FOUNDATION which can be found HERE.  Another organization dedicated to film preservation and seeing films the way they are meant to be seen - projected on a big screen with an audience.

And not to be outdone, the Aero in Santa Monica screens a series of films that poke fun at Dictators.

So here is this week's listings complete with links for tickets and information.

An AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE membership is probably one of the best things a film lover living in Los Angeles can have, so check out the website HERE for more details and do yourself a favor and purchase one.  You won't regret it!

THE EGYPTIAN - 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA  90028

Wednesday, May 2 - 7:30pm

It's a night of putting the spotlight on dirty cops starting with...

SHIELD FOR MURDER (1954. MGM/Park Circus; Directed by: Edmond O'Brien, Howard Koch)

The key for all movie dirty cops is of course money (either that or a woman) and Edmond O'Brien in SHIELD FOR MURDER (which he also co-directed) is no different.  Killing a bookmaker's runner for $25,000, he didn't count on a Deaf/Mute witnessing the murder and now he finds he has to kill again to cover up his bad deed.

One of the great things about this festival year-after-year is their ability to dig up movies that are Not Available on DVD so can't just be screened anytime - and this movie is one of those titles.

Followed by...

PRIVATE HELL 36 (1954, BFI; Directed by: Don Siegel)

One of the great directors Don Siegel (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, DIRTY HARRY) directs this movie which was co-written by star Ida Lupino (who went on to become a director herself).

Here the cop starts out good, but finds himself lured to the other side by - what else - a Femme Fatale, a lounge singer (Lupino in a typical profession in Film Noir) with expensive tastes that a cop salary just can't keep up with.

Another great Not Available on DVD presentation that only the American Cinematheque can provide.



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Thursday, May 3 - 7:30pm

A Pre-Code Noir Double Feature.

OKAY, AMERICA (1932, Universal; Directed by: Tay Garnett)

A popular gossip radio personality (Lew Ayres) takes advantage of a kidnapping case which increases his own fame.   The case involves not only the police, but politicians, organized crime with ties that may go all the way to the top!

An early Noir that is also Not Available on DVD.

Followed by...

AFRAID TO TALK (1932, Universal; Directed by: Edward L. Cahn)

Corrupt politicians and gangsters are everywhere in this suspense when a bellhop at a hotel witnesses a transaction and can unravel the unholy alliance that has a grip on an American city.

Stars Louis Calhern and Edward Arnold and is Not Available on DVD.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, May 4 - 7:30pm

Noir writer Dashiell Hammett takes center stage in this double feature.

THE MALTESE FALCON (1931, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Roy Del Ruth)

This is not the 1941 Bogart version that was directed by John Huston (and one of my favorite films) but the first version that was filmed shortly after book publication and is a lot grittier given that it was pre-code and didn't have the Hays Office (the organization responsible for the Production code in early Hollywood) trying to censor it.

Also known by the title A DANGEROUS FEMALE, Richard Cortez plays Sam Spade a private eye sucked into a very bizarre case by a female client, involving a statue of a bird and plenty of unsavory dudes who will stop and nothing to get their hands on it.

If you are a fan of the 1941 Bogart version (or even if not) this movie is worth checking out not only because it's good, but also as a companion and comparison piece.

Followed by...

CITY STREETS (1931, Paramount; Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian)

You know a Femme Fatale is bad when they can even inspire all-American Gary Cooper to cross the line into crime.

Cooper is a carny sharpshooter who wants nothing to do with the criminal acts of his girlfriend's (Sylvia Sidney) family even though she wants him to as she has a lifestyle she wants to uphold, and his salary just won't cut it.  She ends up in prison and Cooper drops the law-abiding act to help get her out.

This direct to screen Dashiell Hammett story is Not Available on DVD, and definitely worth checking out.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 5 - 3:00pm

One of THE landmark Film Noir movies.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946, MGM; Directed by: Tay Garnett)

Lana Turner and John Garfield star in this legendary Noir that first premiered at the Egyptian theater - so see it where it first began.

Garfield is a drifter who ends up at a diner where he meets sex-kitten Turner who is married to the much older and schlubby Cecil Kellaway.  So what is a drifter and a sex-pot to do when the circumstances keep them from their lust - why plot the husband's death of course.

What always struck me about this movie is how a girl like Turner would end up with a guy like Kellaway which just adds to the suspense of the movie because even though you like Kellaway, you kind of want Garfield and Turner to get together because it just feels right.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is a top-notch production and Garfield and Turner are in top form.  Later remade in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, this is the definitive adaptation of James M. Cain's novel.

This presentation is co-sponsored by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, and features a discussion of FILM NOIR AND THE NOVELISTS WHO CREATED IT with expert and scholar Denise Hamilton before the film.  This discussion will cover all the greats - Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, Horace McCoy, Dorothy B. Hughes, Leigh Brackett and of course James M. Cain.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 5 - 7:30pm

A tribute to Geraldine Fitzgerald sponsored by the (Amazing) WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION.

THE WARNER ARCHIVE is a Movie-on-Demand service that makes classics and rare movies available for consumers on DVD or via digital download.

This service truly is one of the great ideas from Hollywood in the last few years, given that a lot of these titles may not sell a lot on a shelf at Target, but gathered in a spot where collector's can browse and complete their sets - well that's just pure genius.

Several other studios (Disney, MGM/Fox, Universal, etc.) have followed up with their own services, but THE WARNER ARCHIVE has set the standard not only in their depth of catalog titles being made available, but also for the quality as it started out as just making whatever print was available out there and now results in the periodic remaster.

So it's not surprising that a company dedicated to film excellence would be involved with an organization like the American Cinematheque.

The WARNER ARCHIVE can be accessed HERE (also check out my Pinterest board HERE where I post weekly the cover art from the new Warner Archive releases).

THREE STRANGERS (1946, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Jean Negulesco)

THREE STRANGERS has some pretty strong creative clout behind it besides director Jean Neguleso - writers John Huston and Howard Koch and Noir regulars Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

Geraldiine Fitzgerald buys into the legend that if three strangers make a wish in front of a particular Chinese Idol on Chinese New Year, your wish will come true.  She picks Greenstreet and Lorre randomly off the street to put it to the test over a lottery ticket.  Of course, when there is possible money involved things never go exactly as planned.

Very cynical film that has characters (and actors) who ooze shadiness and the premise alone is unique and interesting enough to warrant checking this rare gem out that is not Available on DVD.

Followed by....

NOBODY LIVES FOREVER (1946, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Jean Negulesco)

War widow Gerladine Fitzgerald falls into shady con-man John Garfield's scheme - but what he didn't plan for is falling for his prey which makes both of them targets with the racketeers that he is partnered with.

The reverse of the Femme Fatale here - bad guy falls for good woman.  Cast also includes Walter Brennan.



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, May 6 - 3:00pm

There is nothing better than spending a lazy Sunday afternoon at the movies, and here the Cinematheque has a double feature to help you out.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE (1945, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: John Larkin)

Many times people in a fit of fury will threaten to kill someone - here it becomes a serious problem.

Father Joe Reynolds is incensed when a Baker confiscates his son's hatchet (what the son is doing with a hatchet is anyone's guess) and is seen threatening the baker with it.  Of course the Baker ends up dead and Father finds himself on trial with the Electric Chair looming at the end of it.

One of those movies that likes to point out flaws in the system, this is Not Available on DVD and another rare screening indeed.

Followed by...

THE SIGN OF THE RAM (1948, Sony Repertory; Directed by: John Sturges)

John Sturges (THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) directs this very bizarre movie which has a wheelchair bound matriarch (Susan Peters) going for mother-of-the-year as she seeks to undermine and destroy her family's happiness.  They become aware of her actions, and she becomes even more unbalanced and dangerous.

With a plot like that, how can you lose?  And here's the thing...Susan Peters was really paralyzed (and only shortly before this movie was made) so that just adds an extra layer of psychological tension that a woman playing a paralytic couldn't possibly bring to the role.

Not to be missed!


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, May 6 - 7:30pm

All good things must come to an end, and the final screenings from NOIR CITY feature a discussion between films with actress Marsha Hunt.

MARY RYAN, DETECTIVE (1949, Sony Repertory; Directed by: Abby Berlin)

A movie so rare - cites the American Cinematheque website - that it's "not even listed in the Leonard Maltin Film Guide".  That is rare indeed - I didn't think he missed ANY title.

Marsha Hunt is a detective who goes undercover in prison to bust a gang of jewel thieves.

I have to say, the fact it's not in Maltin's Guide has me really wanting to check this title which is Not Available on DVD out.

Followed by...

KID GLOVE KILLER (1942, MGM; Directed by: Fred Zinnemann)

Fred Zinnemann's feature directorial debut (he goes on to direct such big movies like FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, HIGH NOON and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS) has Van Heflin using forensic techniques to solve a murder.  I doubt they have flashy effects and photography like in the CSI TV Shows, but this sure sounds like an early version of CSI to me.

Yet another film Not Available on DVD.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

THE AERO - 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA  90403

Thursday, May 3 - 7:30pm

CAFE ELECTRIC (1927, Sud-Film; Directed by: Gustav Ucicky)

With a silent movie with live piano accompaniment by Gerhard Gruber and an early Marlene Dietrich screen appearance, how can you go wrong?  Answer is of course - you can't!

Dietrich is a party girl who hooks up with a notorious purse snatcher in an underworld hangout.  She falls for him, and agrees to help him pay off his gambling debts by ripping off her wealthy father.  Daddy's little girl!

A movie that sounds like the plot of a Film Noir, which puts it in good company with the NOIR CITY screenings at the Egyptian all week.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, May 4 - 7:30pm

With all the classic Noir at the Egyptian, how about a little modern Noir.

HEAT (1995, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Michael Mann)

The never ending pursuit of the criminal (Robert De Niro) by an obsessive cop (Al Pacino).  This masterpiece by director Michael Mann is a tour-de-force of movie making and acting that is not to be missed - and especially great on the big screen.

Los Angeles has never looked more appealing, yet more sinister at the same time.  Michael Mann has a way of capturing the city in a way that makes it look like the paradise (that I think) it is, but also a haven for seediness that the classic Noirs always seem to capitalize on.  In fact, you'll probably drive past most of the locations featured in the film on the way to the theater.

I first saw HEAT in 1995 in Los Angeles (at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard) and living in the city at the time gave the movie an extra layer of cool.  That aside, the movie still holds up very well - in fact may have even gotten better with age.

A great movie to follow this up with would be Michael Mann's COLLATERAL.  I think COLLATERAL and HEAT would make a pretty awesome double feature - so make sure to put COLLATERAL in your Netflix queue now (better yet, buy it for your collection) so you can rush home after and watch it.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 5 - 7:30pm



Dictators get made into buffoons on the big screen in 2 movies and 2 different approaches.  One takes on Hitler directly, the other uses mocking Hitler in a play as a plot device.

THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940, Kino; Directed by: Charlie Chaplin)

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin made a daring career move in making this movie taking on Adolph Hitler directly while the war raged on.  It's his first all talking feature where he not only plays the dictator, but also a Jewish Barber being terrorized by the Nazi regime.

One of the great movies of all time that features some classic moments like Hitler's ballet dance with a balloon-like globe, Hitler's crazy speeches and the ending call for peace.

Followed by...

THE PRODUCERS (1968, Rialto; Directed by: Mel Brooks)

Mel Brooks will be on hand live to discuss - so expect this to sell out FAST!

Loser Producer Zero Mostel and meek accountant Gene Wilder hatch a plan to make money by making the biggest Broadway musical flop ever - a seemingly pro-Nazi musical with Adolph Hitler as a crazy 60s Hippy (played by Dick Shawn in a role that is so ridiculously funny, words cannot do it justice).

Just try and walk out without the words to SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER stuck in your head.  This movie was later adapted into a (smash) Broadway Musical, which was later adapted into a (not-so-great) movie.  Ahh the triple irony of it all. (Also inspired one of the best seasons of HBO's CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM where Larry David gets Zero Mostel's role a re-staging of the Musical)



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, May 6 - 5:00pm

Dictators continue to be the subject of ridicule in this double feature with a bonus short to make the evening a must attend.

YOU NATZY SPY (Short - 1940, Sony Repertory; Directed by: Jules White)

The Three Stooges take on Dictators the only way they know how, in this case Moe is the leader of the kingdom of Moronica.  Such a great short, which is perfectly matched with the features that follow it.

DUCK SOUP (1933, Paramount - via Universal; Directed by: Leo McCarey)


What is a series featuring mock Dictators without The Marx Brothers' immortal classic DUCK SOUP!  You know a country is doomed with Groucho Marx as its leader, and poor Margaret Dumont again is the butt of all jokes.

Features some classic Marx Brothers moments including a fight between with a lemonade vendor, and Harpo wreaking havoc with a pair of scissors.

I'm always torn as to which film I like better - A NIGHT AT THE OPERA or DUCK SOUP - but that is a good problem to have as both are masterpieces.

Followed by...

BANANAS (1971, MGM; Directed by: Woody Allen)

In ANNIE HALL, Woody Allen quoted Groucho Marx "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member" and here he is on a double bill with the Marx Brothers.

BANANAS was one of the first Woody Allen movies I had the pleasure of seeing, and it is truly a comic tour-de-force as only Woody can do.  My favorite bit is where he orders all the sandwiches for his guerrilla army - not to mention Howard Cosell appearing as himself to color commentate a rebellion.




Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Back again next week with more great Big Screen events courtesy of The American Cinematheque.