Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Watch your back!


'Noir City X' takes over the Castro Theatre

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart star in director Delmer Daves' Dark Passage.
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These dark, cold nights provide a perfect backdrop for Noir City X, Eddie Muller's 10th annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival, playing the Castro Theatre Jan. 20-29. This year's special guest is Angie Dickinson, appearing at the Castro on Saturday evening, Jan. 21, to talk about her career.

San Francisco offers a Dark Passage (1947) to Humphrey Bogart, who, wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, escapes from San Quentin. The audience doesn't see his face until he has plastic surgery, and he looks like – Humphrey Bogart! Lauren Bacall,  ravishing, sympathetic, and resourceful, helps him prove his innocence. With bitchy Agnes Moorehead, whose death scene is unforgettable. Delmer Daves directed. Wonderful location shots. Changing her identify, Valentina Cortese moves into The House on Telegraph Hill (51), only to face unforeseen danger. With Richard Basehart. Directed by Robert Wise. Many wonderful shots of the city that used to be. (Fri., 1/20, evenings)

In Okay, America (1932), Lew Ayres plays a Walter Winchell-type radio reporter investigating a kidnapping that implicates powerful elected officials. Tay Garnett directed this rarely seen pre-code expose of the media, politics and crime. Louis Calhern and Edward Arnold are Afraid To Talk (32, aka Merry-Go-Round ), another pre-code look at deadly urban politics. (Sat., 1/21, matinees)

The Killers (1964), a remake of the 1946 classic, was planned for television until network executives balked at the violence, so it was released in theatres. Lee Marvin and Clu Gallagher wonder why victim John Cassavetes calmly faces death. Angie Dickinson is the femme fatale, and an atypically hard Ronald Reagan, in his last movie role, is the arctic mastermind behind the evil. Based on Hemingway's short story. Don Siegel helmed. Marvin is double-crossed and left for dead on Alcatraz in Point Blank (67), but he recovers. Is he out for revenge? Dickinson smolders. With a pre-Archie Bunker Carroll O'Conner. John Boorman directed from Donald Westlake's novel. Riveting and unusual. (Sat., 1/21, evenings)

Lovely Gene Tierney is Laura (1944), a peerlessly elegant mystery. Even though she's supposed to be dead, detective Dana Andrews  falls under her spell. Others enamored of her include  Clifton Webb, unforgettable as acidic columnist Waldo Lydecker, one of the screen's earliest and finest metrosexuals; and his rival metrosexual, Laura's fiance Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). Judith Anderson is her aunt, who, with Laura missing, has her own plans for Shelby – she can afford him. Set in tony Manhattan apartments with stylishly dressed suspects. Otto Preminger's memorable directorial debut. Glorious Oscar-winning cinematography by Joseph LaShelle. Four other Academy Award nominations included Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Webb), and Best Set Design/Art Decoration. From Vera Caspary's flawless novel. Caspary wrote Bedelia (46), filmed in England with Margaret Lockwood as a soignee, deadly female. Lance Comfort directed this rarity. (Sun., 1/22, matinee and evening)

Rita Hayworth is a woman like no other in director Charles Vidor's Gilda.

Walking along the dark, dangerous docks of Buenos Aires, suave George Macready picks up rough, butch Glenn Ford and brings him home. All is well between them until Rita Hayworth's Gilda (1946) spoils their romance. "There never was a woman like Gilda!" accurately proclaimed the ads. Hayworth confirmed her Love Goddess image dancing to "Amoro Mio" and erotically suggesting a striptease while singing "Put the Blame on Mane." Marion Parsennet's screenplay (with uncredited help from Ben Hecht) somehow evaded the censors. Charles Vidor directed, stylishly. Jean Louis designed Hayworth's memorable gowns. Hayworth and Ford reunited for The Money Trap (65), a touching homage to the 1940s and their youth. With Elke Sommer, Joseph Cotton, and a pre-Fantasy Island Ricardo Montalban. Directed by Burt Kennedy. (Mon., 1/23, evening)

Rex Harrison thinks beautiful wife Linda Darnell is being Unfaithfully Yours (1948), Preston Sturges' witty riff on infidelity. He's a symphony conductor who fantasizes about killing her while leading the orchestra. Jack Carson is The Good Humor Man (50), hopelessly involved in murder. Frank Tashlin's screenplay turns unexpectedly funny. With a pre-Peter Gunn Lola Albright. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. (Tues., 1/24, evening)

House of Bamboo (1955) is set in post-WWII Tokyo with Robert Ryan and a pre-Untouchables Robert Stack battling Japan's   frightening Yakuza hoods. With Sessue Hayakawa. As a teenager, Tolly Devlin (Cliff Robertson) saw his father get murdered in Underworld, USA (61). Two decades later, he plans his revenge. Both films directed by noir master Sam Fuller. (Wed., 1/25, evening) More next week.

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