Saturday, September 24


Summer's gone, bring on the noir!

The other day I looked out the window at 7:30 PM or so in the evening, and I couldn't help but notice that it was already getting dark. Summer's over. The end of Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner. It's time to get ready for noir season in Frisco. Get our trenchcoats out of the closets, brush the dust off our fedoras, and practice looking cool in the fog. Living in the Richmond district, I get to practice that pretty much all summer, but the rest of the city will soon have its chance to catch up.

Shorter days and longer nights are perfect for evening double-bills free of any pangs of guilt for missing out on maximum Vitamin D production. And the Film Noir Foundation has already started announcing the films they'll be bringing to the upcoming 4th Annual Noir City Film Festival. It'll be 1946 all over again in my neighborhood, where the Balboa Theatre will host a week of vintage pairings like The Big Sleep with The Blue Dahlia and The Dark Mirror with Crack Up. And for those who think a trip to the foggy West End of town is inconvenient, a separate program will run at the Palace of Fine Arts, where the lobby will be transformed into a "Noir City nightclub" complete with live jazz. I can picture it already. The titles picked so far include everything from unusual gems like Hollow Triumph to bona fide classics like Strangers on a Train (perhaps Hitchcock's most noir-ish film, it will play alongside a personal appearance from Farley Granger, as will Nick Ray's They Live By Night, which I've yet to see). The festival starts next January 13 (Balboa screenings starting January 18), and lasts through the 24th.

If 2006 seems far too long to wait, the Danger and Despair Knitting Circle has apparently resolved the issues that halted its weekly Thursday night 16mm screenings last July, and has already promised a Fall filled with Robert Ryan titles and spy films. Only one date announced as yet: the noir precursor Freaks plays just in time for Halloween on October 27th. Check their website for details on how to get an invitation to their free screenings.

And if you can't wait even that long for a noir fix, you might try checking out Jean-Luc Godard's noir-influenced Band of Outsiders (perhaps his most accessible film, too) at the Castro which plays this coming Monday-Thursday with Masculin, Feminin. Or better yet go over to the Parkway on October 6th for Jim McBride's New Orleans-set neo-noir The Big Easy, screening as a Hurricane Katrina Victims Benefit.

Brian, I was just curious: do you watch movies exclusively on the big screen in SF or also on video/DVD at home?
(Wondering, given the focus of your blog...)
I do watch at home. I don't enjoy it nearly as much though. I find I get distracted easily, especially with certain kinds of movies. These days when I rent something, it's usually something I think I won't get a chance to see in a cinema in a LONG time, or else it's something I want to watch for a writing project. I've purchased a few DVDs, etc. too. Again, usually things I don't expect to be able to see in a theatre easily.

I think my next post is going to be on a videotape borrowed from the library. Don't quote me on that though.
Wow, I'm so happy to have discovered this blog!

I've gotten heavily steeped in noir in the past couple of years, since "discovering" Turner Classic Movies in conjunction with my DVD recorder, and I've seen some wonderful gems. But this festival sounds like a dream come true.

A couple of really terrific movies I didn't know about until a couple of years ago are Don Siegel's The Big Steal with Robert Mitchum and the delectable Jane Greer, Rogue Cop starring Robert Taylor, Steve Forrest, Janet Leigh and a host of others, directed by Roy Rowland, and Robert Wise's knock-out Born to Kill with Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor. And don't even get me started on westerns...!
My noir viewings end around mid April and then start up again in the Fall, definitely a seasonal genre. We here in MI don't quite have the fog you all have in San Fran, but plenty of cold!

And nice blog, hope you don't mind if I add you to my links when I update.
Ah, Westerns. If noir is perfect for winter, they're perhaps the perfect summer genre. In July-August of 2004 the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley brought a series of great ones and I crossed the Bay to see about half of them. Wish that were an annual occurance like Noir City. I actually saw Born to Kill at the first annual edition on a double bill with the also Wise-directed, also Frisco-set House on Telegraph Hill (which wasn't nearly as good I must admit.) I'm unfamiliar with The Big Steal and Rogue Cop. Thanks for the tips!

And Brian, please feel free to link away.
To bad that the summer is gone :(
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