Noir City at SIFF

Human Desire, part of SIFF's Noir City series

Noir City, the popular series of noir films curated by Czar of Noir Eddie Muller returns to SIFF Cinema for its fourth year. Each previous incarnation has included noir films both classic and obscure, screened many times over the years or rarely seen since their debut, and all well worth seeing. The 2010 series continues that trend with an excellent selection of films tied to this year’s theme of “Lust and Larceny”.

Double features are an attractive part of the package: your ticket for the first screening of a double feature admits you for free to the second. Or, if you want to see all 14 films (and who could blame you?) you can buy a pass for the whole series for a mere $50. (It’s even more affordable for SIFF members at $35, a steal for so many fine features.)

Friday is a double feature of Pitfall at 7:30 followed by Larceny at 9:30. Pitfall examines the dark side of the American dream with dashing Dick Powell as a successful businessman who cheats on his wife (Jane Wyman) with the alluring Lizabeth Scott; his guilt over the affair is exploited by unscrupulous PI Raymond Burr. Standout performances from all of the stars. Larceny has stars John Payne, Dan Duryea, Joan Caulfield and Shelley Winters reelling off quick-witted one liners in a stylish story of two grifters intent on defrauding a wealthy war widow. Neither film is available on DVD so be sure to see them on screen at SIFF.

Saturday starts off with Cry Danger at 2:00 pm, another film not available on DVD. For years theaters had to rely on actor Dick Powell’s personal 16mm print of the film but finally you get a chance to see it in newly restored 35mm glory. Robert Parrish’s directorial debut stars Powell as an ex-con in search of the guy who really did the crime for which he did crime. It’s double-featured with The Mob, another Parrish film. This one stars Broderick Crawford as a tough cop who goes undercover on the docks to bust up mob activity. Afternoon too early for you? They play again at 7:30 and 9:00 pm.

Sunday’s screenings kick off with a killer film: the incendiary Lana Turner and John Garfield play lust-mad lovers who plot murder in one of the most classic of all classic noirs, The Postman Always Rings Twice. (1:30 and 6:00). It’s paired with John Garfield’s final role in He Ran All the Way (4:00 and 8:30) as a small time hood whose life rolls out of control after he shoots a cop and falls into the arms of Shelley Winters, the sweet girl who takes him home to meet her family, the family he holds hostage while he plots his escape.

Inside Job stars Preston Foster as a gangster who forces newlywed ex-cons Ann Rutherford and Alan Curtis into helping him rob a downtown department store. It plays Monday at 7:30 and is followed at 9:00 by Human Desire in which Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame scheme to rid themselves of her inconvenient husband, played by Broderick Crawford.

Tuesday turns on spotlight on San Francisco, the beloved noir landmark. George Raft is a truck company owner seeking the killer of his brother, a priest, in what may be the genre’s only “Biblical Noir”– Red Light at 7:30. In Walk a Crooked Mile, Dennis O’Keefe’s FBI agent and Louis Hayward’s Scotland Yard inspector track a leak (appropriately creepy Raymond Burr) spreading nuclear secrets to San Francisco. (9:00).

Wedneday features at 7:30, Deported, the rarely seen film inspired by real-life gangster Lucky Luciano’s forced return to his native Italy. At 9:00 is Fly-by-
Night
, another film not available on DVD that combines screwball comedy with the elements of noir in a movie starring Richard Carlson and Nancy Kelly.

The series concludes Thursday with Richard Widmark’s starring turn as a fighter pilot facing court martial for flying suspicious cargo around the Caribbean and drama between his loyal girlfriend Veronica Lake and his old flame Linda Darnell. Slattery’s Hurricane screens at 7:30 and is followed at 9:00 by Pickup on South Street, an “exceptionally fast and hardboiled tale of a New York pickpocket caught between the Commies and the Feds”.

Want to really get into these movies? SIFF is offering two special events with curator Muller: Sunday, February 21 join Eddie Muller for a free Intimate Fireside Chat at the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room at 3:30 pm. Wednesday, February 24, $40 gets you an exclusive dinner at The Signature hosted by Mr. Muller.

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