Ten days. 27 films.
All in all, we made it to 16 films: Gun Crazy, Curse of the Demon, Helldrivers, Try and Get Me!, Repeat Performance, A House Divided, The Kiss Before the Mirror, The Sniper, Experiment in Terror, The Other Woman, The Come On, Man in the Dark, Inferno, Street of Chance, The Chase and The Window.
The most valuable day of the festival, for me, was the Cornell Woolrich marathon. As someone who writes about Suspense and the Woolrich stories they adapted for radio, this was a rare opportunity to see three film adaptations of his stories at one time.
Yes, that's a lot of spiraling darkness and tension for one afternoon, but it was worth it to watch three beautiful 35 mm prints in a row. More about that later.
The surprise of the festival, for us, was the 3-D stereoscopic film Inferno. Due to the title, I just assumed this film had something to do with a big fire. But, no! Most of this film revolves around Robert Ryan trying to survive in the desert after being left for dead by his wife and her lover. The 3-D effect in this film is very understated. Watching the story play out against the scenery, the interior locations...and everything else in sterophonic sound and technicolor 3-D was completely absorbing...fascinating.
The 3-D film that preceded this one on Saturday night was, Man in the Dark. All in all, this was an entertaining film, but it caught my interest because radio actor Ted deCorsia had a supporting role as a bad guy. The last time I saw him in a film at Noir City, he was harpooned by Rhonda Fleming in Slightly Scarlet. This time, he falls to his death from the top of a seaside roller-coaster.
I don't think Ted has as many violent death scenes in a noir as Raymond Burr, but I'll start keeping a tally on that.
The Cornell Woolrich marathon was on the second to last day of the festival, Saturday, Feb.2. In the introduction before the film, the host noted that Steven King is probably the only one who has surpassed Cornell Woolrich in the number of stories adapted for film. Altogether, 31 films have been adapted from Woolrich's stories.
The first film of the day was a new, seen for the first time, 35 mm print of the 1942 film Street of Chance, which was adapted from the novel The Black Curtain. Having listened to Suspense's radio adaptation numerous times, I associate Cary Grant with the lead role in this story. But, in the film version, Burgess Meredith plays the lead role very effectively.
Following that was another restoration, the 1946 film, The Chase, which is based on the novel The Black Path of Fear. It has been quite a while since I read the book, so I couldn't remember exactly what was supposed to happen. In this film, that's OK. The Noir City brochure described The Chase as on "one of the strangest films of the 1940's."
The lead character was played by Robert Cummings, who may seem too upbeat for a Woolrich story, but he genuinely fit the role. However, the crowd favorite, was Peter Lorre who played henchman to Steve Cochran's character.
The last of the three was the 1949 film, The Window, which was also a new Film Noir Foundation 35 mm preservation print. It is based on Woolrich's 1947 short story "The Boy Who Cried Murder," which I have not read, so I had no expectations. However, if you know Aesop's fable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" then you know the basic premise of the story.
The screenplay was adapted by Mel Dinelli, who was also the writer behind some of Suspense's best radio plays. The Noir City brochure describes this movie "the best adaptation ever of a Woolrich story, and one of the greatest suspense films of all times!"
As much as I wanted to, I wasn't able to go for the last day of the festival. So, that was the close of Noir City 11 for me.
This year, everything we saw was great except The Kiss Before the Mirror, a stylish 1933 pre-code film about wife-killing that ended up being more offensive than entertaining. As a woman, I have a right to say that one sucked.
Everything else was a lot fun!
So, until next year...we have the memories.