Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 42 / 16 October 2014
 
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Caution: Dark times ahead

Film

Sixth Noir Film Fest opens at the Castro Theatre


Richard Basehart in 1951. Photo: ImageMakers
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Author Eddie Muller's deservedly acclaimed annual Film Noir Festival returns to the Castro Theatre from Friday, January 25-Sunday, February 3, and includes many rarely-seen movies. Opening night will honor Joan Leslie (b. 1925), who will be interviewed on stage. Leslie, best remembered as James Cagney's wife in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1943), usually played nice woman, but had dark moments. In 1950, she married Dr. William Caldwell. They had twin daughters, and Leslie put her film career on hold to raise them, although she worked frequently on television. Her 50-year marriage ended with Dr. Caldwell's death in 2000.

In Repeat Performance (47), Leslie murders husband Louis Hayward. On New Year's Eve, she's given the chance to relive the previous 12 months. Will she kill him again? This fascinating film changed Leslie's image. With Richard Basehart in his movie debut. In The Hard Way (43), Leslie is forced into a show business career by her manipulative big sister, the remarkable Ida Lupino, whose brilliant performance earned the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actress. With Gladys George, Dennis Morgan, and Jack Carson. Vincent Sherman directed. The sensational cinematography is by the legendary James Wong Howe. Neither picture is on DVD. (1/25)

Dalton Trumbo (1905-76) was one of the Hollywood 10 blacklisted writers victimized by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee witchhunts of the late 40s and early 50s. In 1957, writing as Richard Rich, he won the Best Screenplay Oscar for The Brave One. Three years later, under his own name, he authored screenplays for Otto Preminger's Exodus and Kirk Douglas' Spartacus, officially ending the blacklist. Trumbo penned Joseph Losey's The Prowler (51). Cop Van Heflin becomes obsessed with housewife Evelyn Keyes and plans to make her a widow. Trumbo is the uncredited writer for the overheated Gun Crazy (50), also known as Deadly Is the Female. Fast-paced and irrational, this is some kind of classic. With Peggy Cummins and 14-year-old Russ Tamblyn. Muller wrote and directed The Grand Inquisitor (2008), a 20-minute short starring blacklisted Marsha Hunt, who was featured at last year's festival, as a woman who may be the widow of America's most notorious, unapprehended serial killer. (1/26)

Lovely Gail Russell (1924-61) was one of Hollywood's prettiest leading ladies in the 40s, but alcoholism destroyed her, and she was largely forgotten at the time she was found dead from the disease. In Moonrise (48), she's a good girl determined to save Dane Clark, son of a convicted killer, from what he believes is a predetermined evil fate. With Ethel Barrymore and a young Apollo named Lloyd Bridges. Directed by Oscar winner Frank Borzage. In The Night Has 1,000 Eyes (48), Russell attempts suicide. Her finance (John Lund) blames her relationship with fake stage clairvoyant Edward G. Robinson. A horrified Robinson discovers he's accurately foretelling the future, and it's grim. Based on a Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window) short story. Directed by John Farrow (Mia's father). (1/27)

Marked women

Ida Lupino is A Woman in Hiding (50). After inheriting her father's factory, she marries a charmer (Stephen McNally), learning too late he wants to kill her. Will she survive? With Howard Duff (whom Lupino would marry the next year). Only foolish men threatened Barbara Stanwyck. In Jeopardy (53), she and husband Barry Sullivan are traveling in Mexico when an accident traps him beneath a pier, with the tide steadily rising. Fugitive Ralph Meeker offers to help if Stanwyck is willing to pay his price — and he doesn't necessarily want cash. Will Stanwyck save her hubby and her honor? Directed by John Sturges. (1/28)

Laird Cregar (1916-44) was one of the screen's earliest sinister metrosexuals, a cross between Sidney Greenstreet and Clifton Webb, physically resembling Raymond Burr. His premature death, caused by an unsupervised crash diet, robbed audiences of a fine character actor. In Hangover Square (45), he's a classical composer suffering blackouts during which women are murdered. Is he responsible? Music hall singer Linda Darnell is the object of his mad passion. With George Sanders, one of Hollywood's premiere gentlemen bitches, as a good guy. Bernard Hermann composed the thrilling, melodramatic score, and the terrific cinematography is by Joseph LeShelle. Jeanne Crain's honeymoon cruise becomes a Dangerous Crossing (53) when husband Michael Rennie disappears. No one saw him on ship, and his name isn't on the passenger list. What happened? Based on John Dickson Carr's story. Expertly directed by Joseph Newman. (1/29)

Director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton turn the French Revolution into a noir Reign of Terror (49), which much of it was. Richard Basehart is the bloody, mad Robespierre, Jess Barker his accomplice Saint Just (�The Angel of Death"), and legendary tough guy Charles McGraw one of the Incorruptible's scariest henchmen. With Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl (Lorenzo Lamas' mother). The problems with undocumented migrant workers aren't new. In Border Incident (49), US and Mexican agents battle a vicious gang that brutalizes Southern California farm-workers. With Ricardo Montalban (years before Fantasy Island), musical-comedy star and later US Senator from California George Murphy, and king of the tough guys McGraw. Directed by Mann and photographed by Alton. From 6-7 p.m., author Alan Rode will sign copies of Charles McGraw: Biography of a Screen Tough Guy in the mezzanine. (1/30)






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