Saturday, December 22, 2018

Noir Year 2019: Coming Soon

Every December for the past several years the Film Noir Foundation has presented a one-night-only "Noir City Xmas" screening at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. This year that night was December 19 and the film was The Night of the Hunter (1955). The only film Charles Laughton ever directed, it is a chilling masterpiece, a tale told in images both beautiful and terrifying, with unforgettable performances by Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish.

Noir City 17 film schedule (that's Barbara Payton and Lloyd Bridges)
A high point of the evening is always the announcement by FNF founder/Czar of Noir/Noir Alley host Eddie Muller of the full schedule for the upcoming year's Noir City festival. San Francisco's Noir City 17 is set to run January 25 - February 3, once again at the Castro. The festival theme is "Film Noir in the 1950s" and, just as the 2018 festival chronologically paired films of the 1940s, the 2019 event will similarly wend its way from 1949 through the '50s and into the early '60s. The double bill for the final Saturday night, February 2, boggles the mind, Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) followed by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

24 films in all will screen over the 10 day event and among those on the program are William Wyler's Detective Story (1951), Otto Preminger's Angel Face (1953), Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street (1953), Richard Quine's Pushover (1954), Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Stanley Kubrick's Killer's Kiss (1955), Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and Sam Fuller's Underworld U.S.A. (1961). Opening night will showcase the FNF's newest 35mm restoration, Richard Fleischer's Trapped (1949), starring Lloyd Bridges and the all but forgotten "scandal-plagued" starlet Barbara Payton

San Francisco's Noir City is the largest annual film noir festival in the world and kicks off the series of satellite noir fests around the country. See the box below for a list of cities and dates.

Click here for ticket, lodging, and other information for one of the best, most exciting film festivals in the U.S.

Not just in San Francisco! Watch for Noir City Seattle, Hollywood, Austin, Boston and Chicago.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Obscure "Christmas Carols" of Christmases Past




This month, The Film Detective, a two-year-old streaming service that refreshes its film library monthly, presents “25 Days of Christmas.” So far, offerings have included Peter Pan (1955), the live NBC production with Mary Martin famously starring as Peter Pan, and a 1990 Lifetime TV production, Home for Christmas, in which Mickey Rooney stars as a homeless ex-con taken in by a family at Christmastime.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

George Bancroft: What a Star, What a Character!

Big, blustery George Bancroft was in his mid-40s when he became a film star, breaking out in 1927 with a linchpin performance as mob boss "Bull Weed" in Underworld, Josef von Sternberg's prototypical gangster film. Bancroft was third-billed under dependably wooden Clive Brook, fluttery leading lady Evelyn Brent, and he stole the show with his powerhouse portrayal of a hoodlum with a heart.

Bancroft would team with von Sternberg again in 1928 for another of the director's great silent classics, The Docks of New York, and become Paramount Pictures' top star. He followed with the titular role in The Wolf of Wall Street (1929), a title that would be appropriated many decades later by a New York stock trader as his nickname, the title of his memoir and Martin Scorsese's 2013 film adaptation. Bancroft's next film would take him to the peak of his career as a lead actor when, in 1930, he earned a Best Actor nomination in the second year of the Academy Awards for his star turn in Thunderbolt (1929). This would be his third and final film with Josef von Sternberg, who then moved on to discover and mentor Marlene Dietrich.