Friday, October 13, 2017


Jean Gabin and Jeanne Moreau in Gas-Oil, screening on "Rare Gabin Saturday," Nov. 4 



San Francisco's venerable Roxie Theater will host the 4th installment of THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT, a leading-edge festival of French film noir pioneered and presented by Mid-Century Productions and its executive director/programmer, Don Malcolm. Thirteen French noirs will light up the screen over four days, from Friday, November 3 through Monday, November 6. Here's a quick look at an exciting schedule...

Eddie Constantine and Colette Dereal in This Man is Dangerous
Opening night, November 3, features two films starring Eddie Constantine, an American actor/singer who established a four decade career in Europe. In This Man is Dangerous (1953), Constantine portrays Lemmy Caution, a character he portrayed many times during his long film career and with which he became closely identified. The second feature, Lucky Jo (1964), stars Constantine as an ill-starred small-time crook.

The November 4 Saturday matinee spotlights two early films from director Claude Chabrol (Le Boucher/1970), with a double bill of The Handsome Serge (1958) and The Good-Time Girls (1960). Saturday night, however, belongs to the incomparable Jean Gabin with screenings of three of his films from the 1950s. Gas-Oil (aka/Hi-Jack Highway/1955), a policier, co-stars Jeanne Moreau, The Night Affair (1958), also features Danielle Darrieux, and Crime and Punishment (1956), "a loose, modern-day remake of Dostoyevsky's classic" also stars Robert Hossein and Lino Ventura.

Maria Casares in The Ladies of Boulogne Wood
Sunday, November 5, brings a matinee double-bill of '30s French noir. The first, Happiness (1935), stars Charles Boyer, who was still making films mostly in France at that time; Michel Simon also stars. Hatred (1938), the second matinee feature, is pre-Hollywood noir from Robert Siodmak. The Sunday evening program showcases two icons of French cinema, Maria Casares (Children of Paradise, Orpheus) and Arletty (Le jour se leve, Children of Paradise). Casares stars as a woman scorned in Robert Bresson's The Ladies of Boulogne Wood (1945); Arletty portrays a manipulative older woman in Gigolo (1951).

Jeanne Moreau in Mademoiselle
Closing night, November 6, an Homage to Jeanne Moreau, showcases the legendary actress first as a gangster's moll in a film made toward the end of her "noir apprenticeship," The Strange Mister Steve (1957).  The second film, and the last of the festival, is Mademoiselle (1966). Based on a Jean Genet story adapted by Marguerite Duras and directed by Tony Richardson, Mademoiselle has been called the final nail in the coffin of French film noir and its sub-genre, the "provincial Gothic."

With its spotlight shifting from a rediscovery of Eddie Constantine, to the early work of Claude Chabrol, to Jean Gabin rarities from the '50s, to '30s French noir, to Maria Casares and Arletty, and, finally, the tribute to Jeanne Moreau, this year's French noir series is truly a gem-packed, must-attend event.

Click here for detailed information on dates, times and tickets for THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT 4.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

One-of-a-Kind Celebrity Dolls, Pt. 3: More Creations from Amazing Artists

Lauren Bacall by Cyguy
In this better-late-than-never third and final installment in our series on "OOAK" (One-of-a-Kind) celebrity dolls, we'll peruse the work of some highly accomplished and well-respected artists; Pt. 2 featured the work of prolific "repaint" artist Noel Cruz and Pt. 1 focused on the history of celebrity dolls.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CASABLANCA at 75, Let the Celebrations Continue

Casablanca - winner of Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Screenplay (Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch) Oscars and possibly the film from Hollywood’s golden era that has aged better than any other “as time goes by” - turns 75 this year. Casablanca was honored at the 8th annual TCM Classic Film Festival in April with a screening on the final night of the event at the TCL Chinese Theatre, that opulent icon of glamorous days gone by that is just now celebrating its 90th year.

This was an ideal way to close out TCMFF 2017; there is no movie that better qualifies as classic than Casablanca, and there is no movie palace still operating with more Hollywood history than the Chinese. The theater (always Grauman’s to me) remains resplendent with old-school glamour even as it has undergone modernization to include digital IMAX capacity. I have no doubt that the 931 other people who shared the screening with me that evening had anything less than a sublime experience.

And now, thanks to the San Francisco Symphony, comes another chance to celebrate Casablanca at 75 in a unique and exceptional setting. On Friday night, June 2, and Saturday night, June 3, the symphony will screen Casablanca onstage as the orchestra performs Max Steiner’s unforgettable score live.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Underseen & Underrated: "Unfaithfully Yours" (1948), from the Madcap Mind of Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges’s final remarkable comedy, the deliriously dark Unfaithfully Yours (1948), screened twice at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, on April 7 and April 9. That it screened a second time speaks to the impact of this lesser known Struges jewel the first time it was shown; many of the screening slots on the festival’s final day are held open for repeat showings of “smaller” films that proved to be especially popular on their first run.

Presenting Unfaithfully Yours on April 9 was “Czar of Noir” and host of TCM’s Noir Alley, Eddie Muller. He spoke of his reaction when TCM’s festival programmers told him that the overall theme for the 2017 event would be “Make ‘Em Laugh” and that “Dark Comedies” would be a sub-category. Assuming the obvious, he replied, “You’ll be showing Unfaithfully Yours then, right?”

Thursday, May 4, 2017

PANIQUE (PANIC), a Timely French Noir from Julien Duvivier

This article is also featured in the May/June 2017 issue of THE DARK PAGES film noir newsletter edited by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry. For information on the bi-monthly publication, Click here.

 During Turner Classic Movies’ 8th annual film festival in April, more than 75 films were shown over the event’s four day run. All films screened were classics and almost all of them appealed to me. But there were two that I was determined to see: The Powell/Pressburger tour de force Black Narcissus (1947), presented on nitrate-based film stock, and the less well known newly restored French film noir, Panique (1946), from director Julien Duvivier (1896 – 1967).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Rare Noir is Good to Find 2, San Francisco's Second International Film Noir Festival - Coming in May

For four days in May, twelve mostly rare films noir from eleven countries around the world will screen at San Francisco's Roxie Theater in the heart of the city's Mission District. The event, A Rare Noir is Good to Find 2, is the second international film noir festival to be presented at the Roxie by Mid-Century Productions, the company that has already staged 3 annual French film noir festivals there. Says Don Malcolm, Mid-Century's veteran noir programmer, "As astonishing as it is to know that there are hundreds of French noirs awaiting rediscovery on American movie screens, it's even more amazing to see just how prominent film noir was in just about every significant filmmaking nation in the years following World War II."

Camino del Infierno (The Road to Hell) from Mexico, 1951