Return to Dark City
Annual 'Noir City' film fest comes back to the Castro
by Tavo Amador
Bleak urban jungles filled with a mix of alienated, duplicitous, honorable, and heroic people form the world of film noir, a Hollywood genre from the 1940s and 50s that remains fascinating and relevant. Eddie Muller's justly celebrated Noir City Film Festival returns to the Castro Theatre this year with an exceptional range of dark movies. Programmed by the extraordinary Anita Monga, it runs January 26-February 4 and includes many titles not available on VHS or DVD. The opening-night highlight is a reception from 6-7:15 p.m. honoring special guest and Dark City denizen Marsha Hunt, whom Muller will interview onstage later in the evening.
Hunt is determined to save boyfriend Dennis O'Keefe from a Raw Deal (1948) and from the clutches of Claire Trevor, one of the deadliest of femme fatales. With John Ireland and gay actor Raymond Burr, who had a long movie apprenticeship before becoming famous as TV's Perry Mason and Ironsides. Directed by Anthony Mann. In Kid Glove Killer (42), Hunt plays a police forensic expert navigating between cop Van Heflin and killer Lee Bowman. Directorial debut of future Oscar-winner Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons). (1/26)
Dick Powell achieved fame as a singer in Warner Bros. musicals of the 30s, then played Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled Philip Marlowe in Murder My Sweet (45), reviving his career with a string of noir classics, including Cry Danger (51). He's a framed man searching LA to avenge himself on those who set him up. Trouble appears in the gorgeous, irresistible form of Rhonda Fleming. With wisecracking Richard Erdman, whom Muller will interview on stage. Abandoned (49) children are the subject of this unusual thriller, starring O'Keefe and Gale Storm, a few years before TV stardom as My Little Margie and Oh! Susanna. With Burr and handsome, rugged Jeff Chandler, whom Esther Williams revealed was a heterosexual cross-dresser with a weakness for polka-dot blouses. (1/27)
Sexy John Payne is an over-the-hill boxer who lives at 99 River Street (53). The police think he murdered his ex-wife. Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister, Evelyn Keyes, knows better, however, and together they figure out who the real killer is. Directed by Phil Karlson. Keyes, quintessential Dark City dame Marie Windsor, Wendell Corey, and the wonderful Elsa Lanchester reside in Hell's Half Acre (54), Honolulu's red-light di
Tough Charles McGraw is The Threat (49), playing a convict who escapes from jail and kidnaps all those who did him wrong. With sympathetic Virginia Grey and Milo O'Shea. In Roadblock (51), McGraw starts out as an honest insurance salesman until deadly Joan Dixon shows him the error of his ways. (1/29)
Glenn Ford, who died last year at age 90, was attractive, virile, and had a low-key acting style that has held up superbly. He's Framed (47) for murder and has to deal with treacherous blonde Janis Carter and villainous John Ireland. Set and filmed in Northern California. Ford and sultry love goddess Rita Hayworth were memorable in the classic noir Gilda (46), and they have an Affair in Trinidad (52), which marked her return to the screen after a four-year absence and a highly publicized marriage and divorce from Prince Aly Kahn. Ford is on the Caribbean island hunting down his brother's killer. He's tempted by Hayworth, who may or may not be responsible. With cold, creepy Alexander Scourby. (1/30)
Handsome, reportedly bisexual Franchot Tone came from a wealthy family, was a founding member of the Group Theatre, rejected Bette Davis' love to become Joan Crawford's second husband, and had a 30-year film career. In I Love Trouble (48), he deals with a bevy of complex women, including long, tall Janis Carter, 30s veteran Glenda Farrell, Adele Jergens, and normally sweet Janet Blair. Ireland and Burr are around and up to no good. Although best remembered by boomers as the affable father in TV's My Three Sons, Fred MacMurray was a regular visitor to the Dark City. Few actors were as good at showing the conflict between temptation and honor. In Pushover (54), he's a cop who falls for gorgeous, zaftig gangster's moll Kim Novack, in her movie debut. Philip Carey is not amused. (1/31)
For complete program details, go to www.noircity.com or call the theatre.