a highly-opinionated selection of things happening around town, and sometimes out of town. this month's page here.
tue. mar. 7 six organs of admittance @ bootleg wed. mar. 15 meat puppets @ echo fri. mar. 24 this gun for hire @ noir fest @ egyptian sat. mar. 25 ministry of fear, address unknown @ noir fest @ egyptian sun. mar. 26 lady on a train, escape in the fog @ noir fest @ egyptian mon. mar. 27 the dark corner, behind green lights @ noir fest @ egyptian tue. mar. 28 calcutta, backlash @ noir fest @ egyptian wed. mar. 29 the accused, the hunted @ noir fest @ egyptian thu. mar. 30 chicago deadline, i was a shoplifter @ noir fest @ egyptian fri. mar. 31 where the sidewalk ends, killer that stalked new york @ noir fest @ egyptian sat. apr. 1 the man who cheated himself, iron man (1951) @ noir fest @ egyptian sun. apr. 2 the big heat, wicked woman @ noir fest @ egyptian sat. apr. 22 dead meadow, cosmonauts, the warlocks, the creation factory @ hm157 sat. may 13 grandaddy @ pappy & harriet's WHAT IT IS: THE ACCUSED 1948, Paramount, 101 min, USA, Dir: William Dieterle A spinsterish college professor (Loretta Young) finds herself in jeopardy after killing an amorous student in self-defense. As the noose tightens around her, both the victim’s guardian (Robert Cummings) and a dogged homicide detective (Wendell Corey) begin to fall for her - apparently being a killer makes her irresistible to men. The provocative script gives a decidedly feminine slant to a classic noir premise. Presented in a gorgeously restored print, giving new life to a neglected classic of the genre. 35 mm! Archival Print! ADDRESS UNKNOWN 1944, Sony Repertory, 75 min, USA, Dir: William Cameron Menzies Director William Cameron Menzies and producer Sam Wood brought this noir-stained B-masterpiece to the screen as a searing character study accentuated by brilliant production design and the deep-focus photography by Rudolph Maté. Two close friends (Paul Lukas, Morris Carnovsky) and their families become enmeshed in a Nazi-wrought nightmare before World War II. Also starring Carl Esmond, Peter Van Eyck and K.T. Stevens (Gloria Wood). 35 mm! BACKLASH 1947, 20th Century Fox, 66 min, USA, Dir: Eugene Forte When a body is discovered in a burned-out car, the police have to ID the victim before they can hunt down the killer. This down-and-dirty B movie compresses a jailbreak, adultery and uxoricide into a breakneck story with a startling denouement. One of the best offerings from the redoubtable Sol Wetzel-helmed B unit at Fox. Starring Jean Rogers, Richard Travis, Larry J. Blake, John Eldredge and Robert Shayne. An ultra-rarity that can only be seen at NOIR CITY! Archival 35mm Print! Never on DVD! BEHIND GREEN LIGHTS 1946, 20th Century Fox, 64 min, USA, Dir: Otto Brower Scott Darling and Charles G. Booth’s crackling script details political corruption in a Midwest city that has a mayoral candidate’s daughter (Carole Landis) involved in a murder, with a reticent police lieutenant (William Gargan) saddled with unraveling the mystery. This little-known gem is unavailable on DVD and hasn’t been theatrically screened in decades. Don’t miss it! 35 mm! Archival Print! THE BIG HEAT 1953, Sony Repertory, 90 min, USA, Dir: Fritz Lang One of director Fritz Lang’s best Hollywood films tells the tale of a virtuous cop (Glenn Ford) out for revenge against the gangster who killed his wife. Assisting him in his one-man crusade against the city’s corrupt power base is a kooky, sexy dame (Gloria Grahame, in perhaps her signature role) who’s out for a little vengeance of her own. Featuring an all-time thuggish turn by a young Lee Marvin. As compact and compelling as any crime film ever made. CALCUTTA 1947, Universal, 83 min, USA, Dir: John Farrow Returned to the screen for the first time in decades, this long-lost noir stars real-life pals Alan Ladd and William Bendix as cargo pilots who seek revenge when their best buddy dies under suspicious circumstances. Gorgeous Gail Russell plays the dead man’s fiancée - but is she also the linchpin of an Asian smuggling ring? The sensational cinematography of John F. Seitz enhances the fantastic studio-bound exotica. One of the long-missing titles on the noir résumé of the great John Farrow (THE BIG CLOCK, ALIAS NICK BEAL). New DCP! Never on DVD! CHICAGO DEADLINE 1949, Universal, 86 min, USA, Dir: Lewis Allen Alan Ladd is a newspaper reporter obsessed with a young woman he finds dead in a cheap brothel. Connecting the dots all around Chicago, he cobbles together the sad history of a good girl (Donna Reed) gone wrong. Incredibly rare, not screened for decades before being resurrected by the Film Noir Foundation, the film makes excellent use of various Chicago locales (shot by the great John F. Seitz) to tell a tawdry, ink-stained variation of LAURA. Featuring a terrific supporting cast, including June Havoc, Irene Hervey, Arthur Kennedy and Berry Kroeger. 35 mm! Never on DVD! THE DARK CORNER 1946, 20th Century Fox, 99 min, USA, Dir: Henry Hathaway In this classic private-eye noir, wrongly convicted shamus Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens) is sprung from prison, but bad luck sticks to his gummed shoes: Who’s the mystery man in the white suit and why won’t he leave Galt alone? What’s his connection to the big-money boys on the Upper East Side? Galt’s no Marlowe - without his loyal gal Friday (a spunky and sexy Lucille Ball), he wouldn’t make it out from behind the 8-ball alive. "I’m backed up in a dark corner," he grouses, "and I don’t know who’s hitting me." Co-starring Clifton Webb and William Bendix. 35 mm! Archival Print! ESCAPE IN THE FOG 1945, Sony Repertory, 65 min, USA, Dir: Budd Boetticher An army nurse (Nina Foch) is terrified by a fog-shrouded dream in which she witnesses a trio of men committing murder on the Golden Gate Bridge. Good thing it’s all a dream … until the victim asks her out on a date! Settle in with some popcorn for lots of old-time B-movie skullduggery. Director Boetticher, who’d go on to direct some of the greatest Westerns ever, rides briskly over plot holes, camouflages lapses in logic with loads of atmosphere, and makes the most of Nina Foch’s distinctive appeal. 35 mm! Archival Print! THE HUNTED 1948, Warner Bros., 88 min, USA, Dir: Jack Bernhard Paroled after serving time for her part in a jewel heist, Laura Mead (Belita) returns to the city looking to reclaim her life. Waiting in the shadows is her former boyfriend, detective Johnny Saxon (Preston Foster) - who may have railroaded her into the pen out of jealousy. When Laura turns up in Johnny’s apartment, is she looking to forgive … or make good on her threat to kill the man who sent her up? A clever, ambiguous twist on the typical femme fatale story, this hypnotic Poverty Row noir from director Jack Bernhard (DECOY) has been resurrected from obscurity in a new print. 35 mm! Archival Print! IRON MAN 1951, Universal, 81 min, USA, Dir: Joe Pevney Jeff Chandler stars as Coke Mason, a Pennsylvania coal miner who is talked into becoming a boxer by his gambler brother (Stephen McNally). Coke’s wife (Evelyn Keyes) thinks her husband’s violent streak can make them millionaires, not caring that’s he’s becoming a villain in the public’s eyes. In the end, Coke fights for the title against … Rock Hudson! Based on the novel by W.R. Burnett and featuring Jim Backus, Joyce Holden and James Arness. New 35mm Print! I WAS A SHOPLIFTER 1950, Universal, 74 min, USA, Dir: Charles Lamont Cop Scott Brady agrees to go undercover to shadow shoplifter Mona Freeman, a judge’s daughter who has been coerced into working for a robbery ring run by the always entertaining Andrea King (SOUTHSIDE 1-1000). Her sinister sidekick is a looker named Pepe, played by 25-year-old Tony Curtis. Also keep your eyes peeled for noir tough guy Charles McGraw and a young Rock Hudson. New 35mm Print! Never on DVD! KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK 1950, Sony Repertory, 79 min, USA, Dir: Earl McAvoy Evelyn Keyes, in thrall to a truly despicable crook (Charles Korvin), agrees to carry into the States $40,000 worth of jewels smuggled out of Cuba. What she doesn’t know is that she’s contracted the smallpox virus and is spreading it all over Manhattan. What she learns is that her man is cheating on her - with her sister (Lola Albright)! What she wants is revenge! A truly exciting and underappreciated film featuring a compelling performance by Keyes. Featuring Dorothy Malone and Barry Kelley. 35 mm! Archival Print! LADY ON A TRAIN 1945, Universal, 94 min, USA, Dir: Charles David Nikki Collins (Deanna Durbin) witnesses a murder while waiting for a train, but can’t get the police to believe her when no body is discovered. While they dismiss her as daft, she enlists the help of a mystery writer to sleuth out the culprits on her own. Based on a story by veteran mystery scribe Leslie Charteris (The Saint), this is a wildly entertaining mix of comedy, musical and suspense, rendered in evocative noir style by cameraman Woody Bredell (PHANTOM LADY, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, THE KILLERS), and featuring a superb cast of sinister and suspicious supporting players (including noir fave Dan Duryea) who swirl ominously around “America’s Sweetheart.” 35 mm! THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF 1950, 81 min, USA, Dir: Felix Feist A veteran San Francisco homicide cop (Lee J. Cobb) spirals into a moral morass when his married socialite lover (Jane Wyatt, in a rare fatale role) “accidentally” bumps off her husband. Instead of playing it by the book (would that be noir?), he covers up the crime, only to have his younger brother (John Dall) - himself a fledgling homicide dick - start putting together the pieces. This James M. Cain-inspired thriller gets maximum impact out of its San Francisco locations, including a memorable climax at Fort Point. 35 mm! Archival Print! MINISTRY OF FEAR 1944, Universal, 86 min, USA, Dir: Fritz Lang Ray Milland plays a Londoner traumatized by his wife’s murder who’s released after two years in an asylum - and walks straight into a network of Nazi spies trying to undermine the British war effort. But who’ll believe the warnings of a crazy person? Taking full advantage of the brilliant artifice of the Paramount art department, Lang spins a dizzying tale of alienation and espionage that’s more fun than any wartime thriller has a right to be. Based on the novel by Graham Greene, and featuring delicious supporting turns from Hillary Brooke and Dan Duryea. 35 mm! THIS GUN FOR HIRE 1942, Universal, 81 min, USA, Dir: Frank Tuttle With a screenplay by W.R. Burnett (THE ASPHALT JUNGLE) and Albert Maltz (NAKED CITY) based on the novel by Graham Greene, here is one of the genuinely seminal films in Hollywood’s original noir movement! This taut thriller made stars of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, who’d become Paramount’s biggest box-office duo of the 1940s. Ladd plays lone-wolf assassin Philip Raven, who enlists Lake’s aid in freeing himself from a frame-up by a secret cadre of “fifth columnists.” John Seitz’s camerawork presages the shadowy dread he’d bring to sunny Los Angeles in DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Lake sports sensational outfits created by the legendary Edith Head. Costarring Robert Preston and the fabulous Laird Cregar, in one of his earliest performances. A must-see! New 35mm Print! WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 1950, 20th Century Fox, 95 min, USA, Dir: Otto Preminger Dana Andrews gives one of his most compelling performances as an angry and haunted New York cop whose violent streak leads to the killing of an informer. His attempts to cover up the crime only dig the hole deeper, as his lies make a suspect of an innocent man - the father of the woman he loves! Ben Hecht’s terrific script, based on the novel Night Cry by Victor Trivas, provides the bedrock for one of Preminger’s best film noirs, shot by the great Joseph LaShelle (LAURA). WICKED WOMAN 1953, Park Circus/MGM, 77 min, USA, Dir: Russell Rouse In this racy little B-movie, scarlet woman Beverly Michaels (PICKUP) cons saloon owner Richard Egan into bilking his boozy wife out of her dough, then toys with the affections of slavering devotee Percy Helton (as you’ve never seen him before). 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. Featuring a title song that’s a cult favorite! 35 mm!