Saturday, November 6, 2021

FRENCH NOIRVEMBER RETURNS: The French Had a Name for It 2021

On October 24, a rare and potent combination of “atmospheric river” and “bomb cyclone” generated a ferocious storm that pounded Northern California, dumping more than a foot of rain in some areas. As high winds blew and heavy rains fell, streets and roads flooded, power lines and trees came down and wildfire areas were slammed with mudslides. Many events and gatherings in the region were scrapped due to the weather, but the show would go on at San Francisco’s venerable Roxie Theater. It was here, beginning early in the afternoon, that a four-film French noir program honoring two gods of the French cinema, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Gabin, went ahead as scheduled. Reflecting on the impact of the storm, Don Malcolm, whose Midcentury Productions produced the show, said, “We got hit about as bad as you can get hit without having to evacuate and have the event cancelled.” He reported that 60 “incredibly hardy and loyal fans showed up and were thrilled by all the films.” Don noted that the Jean Gabin sleeper People of No Importance/Des gens sans importance (1956) particularly pleased the crowd. Given the severity of the weather, it seems several attendees were especially hardy and loyal – it was their first time in a theater since the pandemic began. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them, forced instead to hunker down at home in one of the most storm-battered towns north of the city.