13th Annual Festival Of Film Noir


If you like your thrills straight up, your men hardboiled and your frails classy, jump in your short and make the smooth scene at The American Cinematheque’s annual Noir feast. They’re in cahoots with the Noir Foundation to put on the whole shebang. Don’t be a piker. This 28-film edition is well worth the Mazola.

The NOIR CITY film festival returns for its 13th year, presenting an array of rarities mostly available ONLY on the big screen. We’ve scoured studio archives to assemble a feast of film noir that can only be consumed in its original 35mm format, in the glorious darkness of a vintage movie palace!

This year’s program features several new prints preserved by the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive, including rarities “High Wall”, “Loophole”,  “The Hunted”, “Strangers In The Night” and The Dark Mirror.”  23 of the 28 film presented in the series are not available on DVD! This may be the last chance to ever see these extraordinary films on a big screen – don’t miss a single one!

A Film Noir Series pass for $120 provides one ticket to each film in the series. Additional tickets can be purchased individually at regular price. Cinematheque members will get a deeper discount by buying tickets individually at the member price. Pass sale ends April 1 when the series begins. Available at the box office or on Fandango.

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Series compiled by Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode, with the assistance of Gwen Deglise. Program notes by Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode.
Hosted by the Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie J. Muller and Alan K. Rode.

Friday, April 1 – 7:30 PM – Rare Noir Preserved! Double Feature
HIGH WALL – New 35mm Print!
1947, MGM [Warner Bros.] 99 min. Dir. Curtis Bernhardt.
“So tense! So taut! It closes in on you like a high wall!” Quintessential postwar noir, resurrected in a new 35mm print by the Film Noir Foundation! Brain-damaged vet Robert Taylor confesses to murdering his unfaithful wife and is sentenced to a sanitarium. His doctor (sexy Audrey Totter) gradually realizes he might not be guilty. Taylor gives his best performance ever in this neglected gem, which combines a classic “wrong man” scenario with an intriguing take on the psychic scars suffered by wounded WWII veterans. Thanks to Warner Bros. and UCLA Film & Television Archive. 

STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT – New, Restored 35mm Print!
1944, Republic [Paramount], 56 min. Dir. Anthony Mann. NOT ON DVD!
Brand new 35mm print restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive! A WWII veteran comes to a California town to meet the woman who was his cherished wartime pen pal. The girl’s peculiar mother claims she’s away – perhaps far, far away. This highly atmospheric, slightly daft B was the sixth low-budget wonder on the growing résumé of esteemed noir director Anthony Mann (T-MEN, RAW DEAL), featuring a jaw-dropping performance by Austrian actress Helen Thimig. Preservation funded by Paramount Pictures. A RARE ANTHONY MANN GOTHIC.

Saturday, April 2 – 7:30 PM – Noir Behind Bars! Double Feature
1947, Universal [Upcoast Film Consultants], 98 min. Dir. Jules Dassin.
Intense, violent and nihilistic in the extreme, this Mark Hellinger-produced prison drama may well be the bleakest, most despairing film noir of them all. Burt Lancaster plots a breakout for the inmates of Cell R-17 so they can escape the sadism of fascistic bully Hume Cronyn. The climactic bust-out remains a shocker, as the escape erupts into full-throttle warfare. Still the most unforgettable men-behind-bars movie ever made! “Men caged on the inside… Driven by the thought of their women on the loose!” 

1957, MGM [Warner Bros.], 92 min, Dir. Russell Rouse. NOT ON DVD!
What’s more ominous than a jugged Jack Palance doing hard time? How about Jack in a dual role as look-alike brothers … with Timothy Carey as a cellmate! In a clever twist, the Palance on the outside schemes to free his twin by breaking into maximum security! Ultra-rare noir directed on location at San Quentin by the always-original Russell Rouse (DOA, NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL, THE WELL). Not to be missed! PALANCE IS A BLAST IN DUAL ROLES>

Sunday, April 3 – 7:30 PM – Rarities on the Run! Double Feature
1948, Warner Bros., 91 min. Dir. Lewis Seiler. NOT ON DVD!
Mix OUT OF THE PAST with BODY AND SOUL and what do you get? An artist who falls for a mystery woman, pursues her to the Big Apple, and ends up fighting for the middleweight championship! Pugnacious Dane Clark is artist/boxer Mike Angelo (get it?), Alexis Smith is his sexy siren, Eve Arden the sassy girlfriend, Douglas Kennedy the scar-faced gunsel and, best of all, Zachary Scott is a sadistic, wheelchair-bound fight manager! “Whiplash” is what you’ll get keeping up with the careening plot, which climaxes in a smashing finale!

THE HUNTED New 35mm Print!
1948, Allied Artists [Warner Bros.], 88 min. NOT ON DVD!
Steve Fisher’s original screenplay for this bargain-basement B offers a clever twist on the typical femme fatale. Laura Mead (Belita) has served her time for robbery and still claims her innocence. She returns to the city where her former cop lover (Preston Foster) sent her up. Is she back for a fresh start – or revenge? A strange, hypnotic noir from Poverty Row director Jack Bernhard (DECOY). Thanks to Warner Bros. and UCLA Film & Television Archive.  A TAUT REDISCOVERY

Wednesday, April 6 – 7:30 PM – Superstars Gone Mad! Double Feature
1947, Warner Bros., 99 min. Dir. Peter Godfrey.
Humphrey Bogart gives one of his strongest performances as a mentally disturbed painter whose second wife (Barbara Stanwyck) gradually realizes her husband’s preferred medium is murder. Released at the height of public fascination with the Bogart-Bacall romance, the film flopped and has rarely been revived in recent decades. Here’s a chance to see Bogart at his most deliciously villainous, opposite one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, and a wicked and witty Alexis Smith.

1948, Universal, 85 min. NOT ON DVD!
Witnesses place Ruth Collins (Olivia de Havilland) at the scene of a grisly murder. When it’s discovered she has a twin, Dr. Elliot (Lew Ayres) is brought in to psychologically evaluate them both. When the doc falls for one of them, the other becomes murderously jealous. Noir master Robert Siodmak deftly directs this Oscar-nominated original story, guiding the great de Havilland through two sensational performances, as the sisters both sweet and sinister. Preservation by UCLA Film & Television Archive, funded by The Film Foundation.

Thursday, April 7 – 7:30 PM – Felix Feist Double Feature
1949, RKO [Warner Bros.], 66 min. NOT ON DVD!
Ruthless killer Red Kluger (Charles McGraw) escapes from prison, vowing vengeance on the cop and D.A. who sent him up. His kidnapping plot culminates in a Mojave hideout – call it “The Petrified Desert” – where the gang waits for a plane to take them to freedom. Director Felix Feist steers the action at a breakneck pace, turning the proceedings into a veritable highlight reel of malicious mayhem courtesy of McGraw, the ultimate noir tough guy. With Michael O’Shea, Virginia Grey, Anthony Caruso, and Frank Conroy. MCGRAW IS A PHENOM.

1952, Warner Bros., 100 min.
Joan Crawford called this her “worst” film; we respectfully contend that Joan was a poor judge of her own work. In her last film for Warner Bros. (could that have something to do with her bitterness?), Crawford plays a hardened gangster going blind, who desperately needs an operation to save her sight. Essentially a sequel to Crawford’s great THE DAMNED DON’T CRY, director Feist brings punch and panache to Daniel Mainwaring’s melodramatic script. It’s Joan at her “Joaniest,” and few things are more enjoyable. “Every inch a lady…’til you look at the record!”

Friday, April 8 – 7:30 PM – Backlot Exotica! Double Feature
1943, RKO [Warner Bros.], 68 min. Dirs. Orson Welles and Norman Foster. NOT ON DVD!
Shadowy and stylish adaptation of Eric Ambler’s tale of wartime intrigue. Joseph Cotten – who wrote the screenplay – plays an engineer pursued by a murderous Nazi agent, for reasons unknown, throughout the Near East. Drastically cut prior to release (with new scenes shot by Foster) the film remains a uniquely Wellesian exercise in cinematic style, outfitted with an array of colorful characters, including delicious Dolores Del Rio as a femme fatale chanteuse.

1949, MGM [Warner Bros.], 98 min.
Less a coherent drama than a sweaty fever-dream of ’40s film noir, THE BRIBE features an all-star cast (Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, John Hodiak) trapped on the steamy Caribbean isle of “Carlota” (as only M-G-M’s art department could render it), perspiring through a convoluted tale of romance, disease and WWII contraband. Skip the logic and wallow in the exotic artifice of this sublime noir fantasia, directed by Robert Z. Leonard, photographed by the great Joe Ruttenberg and scored by the magnificent Miklos Rozsa! THE STEAMY TROPICAL DOUBLE CROSS THAT INSPIRED STEVE MARTIN’S “DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID.”

Saturday, April 9 – 7:30 PM – More Pristine Preservations! Double Feature
LOOPHOLE New 35mm Print!
1954, Allied Artists [Warner Bros.], 80 min. Dir. Harold Shuster. NOT ON DVD!
The Film Noir Foundation is proud to resurrect one of the rarest films of the original noir era, a tidy tale of unjust persecution that plays like a B-movie version of Les Miserables. An innocent bank clerk (Barry Sullivan), made the fall guy in an embezzlement scheme, is pursued to the brink of insanity by a scarily righteous insurance investigator (merciless Charles McGraw, in a signature performance). “On the hot spot! … With a lethal blonde and a cold-blooded cop!” Presented in a brand new 35mm print funded by The Film Noir Foundation! Thanks to Warner Bros. and UCLA Film & Television Archive.  A GREAT CAST AND MEMORABLE PERFS

1950, Warner Bros., 102 min. NOT ON DVD!
While not as famous as Jimmy Cagney’s huge hit WHITE HEAT (made the previous year), this brutal, hard-as-nails adaptation of Horace McCoy’s superb novel is one of the best crime films of the noir era. A handful of battered survivors recount in court the violent saga of criminal Ralph Cotter, from his prison breakout to his fateful double-dealings with women (Barbara Payton and Helena Carter, both terrific). Tremendously tough direction by Gordon Douglas, featuring an amazing crew of noir tough guys. “The whole blistering story of the crimson-stained career of Ralph Cotter, thug with a heart… of ice!” 

Sunday, April 10 – 7:30 PM – Buried Secrets Revealed! Double Feature
1947, RKO [Warner Bros.], 95 min. NOT ON DVD!
Robert Young is brilliantly cast against type as a married Lothario whose sexual antics lead to tragedy. Director Irving Pichel elicits superb, nuanced performances from Susan Hayward (his latest lover), Jane Greer (his former lover) and Rita Johnson (his beleaguered wife), all full-blooded characters in Jonathan Latimer’s sharp-edged screenplay. Produced by Hitchcock protégé Joan Harrison, this sophisticated “adult” film is one of the most unjustly obscure titles of the original noir era. A MUST SEE

1949, RKO [Warner Bros.], 88 min. Dir. Nicholas Ray. NOT ON DVD!
Consider it a film noir version of ALL ABOUT EVE. A famous singer (Maureen O’Hara) who’s lost her voice shoots her protégé (Gloria Grahame) in a fit of rage. As the young woman lies dying, flashbacks recount the tawdry saga of their backstage relationship. The Herman Mankiewicz script is no CITIZEN KANE, but he brings nasty wit to this adaptation of Vicki Baum’s novel. The terrific supporting cast features Melvyn Douglas, Victor Jory, Bill Williams and J.C. Flippen.

Wednesday, April 13 – 7:30 PM – The Women Rule Tonight! Double Feature
1955, Universal, 100 min, Dir. Joseph Pevney. NOT ON DVD!
Moving into her late husband’s beach house after the previous tenant committed suicide, Joan Crawford finds her neighbors incredibly accommodating – especially the hunky beachcomber (Jeff Chandler) who becomes her lover. Sexual obsession, blackmail and murder are folded into a froth of suspicious neighbors (Jan Sterling), hurled martini glasses, secret diaries and plenty of crashing surf.  Perhaps the most perverse film of Crawford’s 1950s diva phase!

HAZARD  New 35mm Print!
1948, Paramount [Universal], 95 min, Dir. George Marshall. NOT ON DVD!
More a comedy-adventure than a straight noir, but we welcome any chance to see Paulette Goddard in her prime! She plays a gambler who antes herself up as the prize in a game against a professional card shark (Fred Clark). Upon losing, she takes it on the lam, pursued cross-country by a private dick (Macdonald Carey) hired to haul her back to the altar. Surrounded by a wonderful cast (Stanley Clements, Percy Helton, Frank Faylen, Taylor Holmes, Charles McGraw), Goddard shows – in a pristine new 35mm print – why she was one of the most luminous and charismatic stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Thursday, April 14 – 7:30 PM – Robert Ryan, Rich and Poor Double Feature
1949, MGM [Warner Bros.], 88 min. Dir. Max Ophuls. NOT ON DVD!
Robert Ryan is psychotic billionaire Smith Ohlrig, who gives impressionable young Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes) everything she ever wanted. Leonora suffocates from the security, and soon falls for an altruistic doctor (James Mason), leading her husband to devise a scheme to permanently lock the bonds of matrimony. Superbly directed by Max Ophuls, with cinematography by the great Lee Garmes. Preservation by UCLA Film & Television Archive, funded by The Film Foundation.  A MUST SEE.

1952, RKO [Warner Bros.], 77 min. Dir. Harry Horner. NOT ON DVD!
The incredible Ida Lupino plays a lonely war widow who employs a penniless drifter (Robert Ryan) as a household handyman, only to learn – too late – precisely why he has no references on his résumé. As the film’s original tagline puts it: “Trapped by a man beyond control!” Lupino and Ryan, a pair of noir heavyweights, battle through a “day without end” (the film’s original title) to an unexpected climax. Mel Dinelli’s suspenseful script is adapted from his hit stage play “The Man.”
Friday, April 15 – 7:30 PM – William Castle Exposés! Double Feature & Actress Barbara Hale In Person!
1956, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 79 min. NOT ON DVD!
Gene Barry stars as an amoral and ambitious wildcatter who presents Midwest gangster Edward Arnold with a plan for siphoning off millions of dollars worth of Gulf oil and selling it at a huge profit on the black market. Will Barry survive to see the spoils of his pre-Enron scheme? Spicing things up is Barry’s affair with Arnold’s chanteuse moll, played by a platinum-tressed Barbara Hale, pre-“Perry Mason.” Director William Castle brings visual virtuosity to the cut-rate Sam Katzman production.

1955, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 76 min. NOT ON DVD!
William Castle takes his crew on location to the Big Easy for this entry in the 1950s exposé sweepstakes. Discharged Navy vet Arthur Franz (THE SNIPER) catches on as a longshoreman and quickly learns things on the docks are crooked as hell. When his buddy is killed in a suspicious accident, Franz decides to go undercover for the cops to take down local crime boss Michael Ansara. Of course, this means tussling as well with “Big Easies” Beverly Garland and Helene Stanton.
Discussion between films with actress Barbara Hale! (schedule permitting)
Saturday, April 16 – 7:30 PM – Tribute to Glenn Ford! Double Feature & Booksigning of Glenn Ford: A Life
1947, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 82 min. NOT ON DVD!
In this rarely seen piece of prime-grade pulp, taciturn Glenn Ford barrels his broken-down truck into a rural California town and is quickly engulfed in adultery, embezzlement and murder. Janis Carter is the long, tall drink of delicious poison he can’t resist, and Barry Sullivan is his usual sly self as the not-so-unwilling cuckold. The script by Ben Maddow (THE ASPHALT JUNGLE) hits all the notes originated by James M. Cain, and director Richard Wallace has a good time playing them.

1949, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 93 min. NOT ON DVD!
This ultra-rare comedy-noir hybrid features Glenn Ford as a returning WWII vet who knocks over the Frisco nightclub he used to own. When the gangster owners come gunning for him, Ford finds sanctuary by getting arrested for a misdemeanor – only to find himself back in hot water when he’s sprung by a do-gooder social worker (Evelyn Keyes) for the holidays. Directed by Henry Levin and Gordon Douglas, this is one of the oddest combinations we’ve ever seen: romantic comedy, schmaltzy sentiment and hardboiled noir.
Discussion between films with Peter Ford, with a book signing in the Egyptian lobby from 6:30 – 7:15 PM of Ford’s new book Glenn Ford: A Life.

Sunday, April 17 – 7:30 PM – Film Noir Event To Be Announced  
A very exciting double feature is in the works, with 2 new pristine preservation prints! See our website for updates about this not-to-be-missed 13th Annual Festival of Film Noir event!               

Wednesday, April 20 – 7:30 PM – They’re Driving Me Crazy! Double Feature: GASLIGHT
 1944, MGM [Warner Bros.], 114 min. Dir. George Cukor.
Ingrid Bergman’s Oscar-winning performance dominates this Victorian-era thriller, one of the greatest suspense films ever made. After 10 years abroad, Paula Alquist (Bergman) returns with her groom (Charles Boyer) to the house where her aunt was murdered. The unsolved crime haunts her to the edge of madness. Nominated for all the major Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay, it remains a timeless touchstone of 1940s cinema.

1945, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 65 min. NOT ON DVD!
Unemployed Julia (Nina Foch) gets a dream job working for a wealthy widower, only to awaken in a nightmare – living with a schizo husband and a scheming mother-in-law (George Macready and Dame May Whitty), neither of whom she’s ever seen before! Director Joseph H. Lewis (GUN CRAZY, THE BIG COMBO) made his mark in Hollywood with this incredibly tense and well-acted mystery thriller, one of the best B films of the era. “She went to sleep as a secretary… and woke up as a madman’s bride!”

The Egyptian Theatre 6712 Hollywood Boulevard (between Las Palmas and McCadden) A short walk from the Hollywood and Highland Metro station.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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