The San Francisco Film Noir Festival opened on Friday, and I have spent most of my weekend watching movies at the Castro Theatre. So, my regular schedule of posting new items on Sunday is a bit off this week.
Soon, I will have to run to catch the matinee of a "swamp noir" with William Conrad called Cry of the Hunted, but before I do, I want to recap some of what I've seen.
For the the first two nights of Noir City 7, the Castro Theatre was filled to its 1400 seat capacity despite the rainy weather and traffic. The festival began with a tribute to those who had passed away in the previous year: Evelyn Keyes, Ann Savage, (Director) Jules Dassin, and Richard Widmark.
Then, the "Tzar of Noir," Eddie Mueller, introduced the first two movies and explained the "newspaper noir" theme of this year's festival. According to him, the first movie of the festival, Deadline U.S.A. isn't technically a noir, but it is the "secret favorite of newspaper men."
Deadline U.S.A., starred Humphrey Bogart, but in the background, there were a number of actors from Escape, including Joe Di Santis, Parley Baer, Lawrence Dobkin, Paul Dubov, Barton Yarborough, and Tudor Owen. Unfortunately, they were so far in the background, even I couldn't find them. The only one that had a noticeable role in this movie was Parley Baer, who played the head waiter in a scene with Humphrey Bogart and Kim Hunter.
Next up, there was Scandal Sheet, with Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, and John Derek. One of the three people with screenwriting credit for this film was James Poe, my favorite writer from Suspense. It lived it up to my expectations! (The screenplay itself was based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller.) What a solid, tense little movie this was. Broderick Crawford did a great job as a newspaper editor who murders his estranged wife and is then forced to stay one step ahead of his newspaper's own investigation of the crime.
After the movie, many of the women in the lobby could be heard commenting on John Derek as being "...so pretty, but he really couldn't act..." Well, nevertheless, the movie was well liked by all.
On Saturday, there was a matinee of a movie called Blind Spot during which I had a hard time staying awake. I thought this film was too slow, but one of the film noir fans we met defended it by explaining that this was a satire of locked-room mysteries. Perhaps.
The second matinee feature of the day was Chicago Deadline and it quickly snapped everyone out of the afternoon stupor that Blind Spot had left them in. Alan Ladd, Donna Reed and June Havoc star in this story of a newspaper reporter who investigates the death of young woman found dead in a fleabag hotel. Escape regular Berry Kroeger played the bad guy in this film and did a perfect job.
Well, after the mantinee there was the evening double feature with Arlene Dahl, but I'll cover that in my next post. Cry of the Hunted is waiting...
For more information about the San Francisco Film Noir Festival click here to visit the Noir City website.