Noir Canon Series Begins Friday with Greatest Hits of the Genre

Back by popular demand, we’re showing several of the key films of the film noir genre starting November 23rd. While the genre can be defined by many themes, we examined the films in our upcoming series and have examples of what really makes the film noir. See our video below to see a few examples of what makes a film noir what it is. After watching that, get your tickets to join us for all four of the films included in this series. Get your tickets here.


TOUCH OF EVIL

November 23rd & 25th

After a decade of exile to Europe following CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles returned to Hollywood. He was initially signed on just to act in the film that became TOUCH OF EVIL, but at the behest of Charlton Heston, Universal let Welles direct as well.  The result wasn’t just a high water mark for the noir genre, but a film that pushed the medium forward with touches like an all-in three-minute long-take tracking shot right at its opening.  Welles took the pulpy source material–a border-town crime thriller–and transformed it with his Shakespearian grandeur and technical virtuosity.

After CITIZEN KANE, Hollywood executives never made the same “mistake” of granting Welles final cut again–and his version of the film was cut down for its theatrical release.  Luckily, AFS has been sent Universal’s “Reconstructed Version” of the film, which adheres to Welles’ original vision.  On 35mm.

NIGHT AND THE CITY

November 30th & December 2nd

The opening moments of NIGHT AND THE CITY display a man out of breath, and the pace of the film never lets that feeling go. All the weight of the oppressive noir universe is placed on our small-time con-man protagonist (Richard Widmark) until it finally crushes him. The entire film hinges on Widmark’s performance, which is a tiptoed dance from exasperation to smarmy subterfuge, and back again. Call it a fall from something (grace is too generous).

The film would be the last produced in the United States by the film’s director, Jules Dassin. He had made several notable noirs in the states, including BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY, but was a victim of Hollywood blacklisting during the red scare. After NIGHT AND THE CITY he relocated to Europe.

NIGHTMARE ALLEY

December 7th & 9th

In its heyday, the carnival was seen as one of the lowest forms of entertainment, making it a perfect setting for a noir film and its inhabitants. In NIGHTMARE ALLEY, we follow the rise and fall of “The Great Stanton,” a performer surrounded by characteristically icy women as accomplices.  The film was a 20th Century Fox production, directed by frequent-Bette-Davis-collaborator Edmund Goulding. 20th Century Fox poured money into the gorgeously grotesque production (an uncommon occurrence for a noir film), hired over 100 real carnies and even built a real working carnival on a backlot. Star Tyrone Power recalled NIGHTMARE ALLEY as his personal favorite performance of his. On 35mm.

THE BIG SLEEP

December 14th & 17th

An important facet of the noir is confusion. Many noir films’ plots are intentionally disorienting to both the protagonist and the audience.  Howard Hawks’s THE BIG SLEEP is no exception, and often what sticks with us isn’t the plot (which stays hazy), but instead the characters, the snark, the chemistry–especially in the case of a film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  Based on a novel by Raymond Chandler, THE BIG SLEEP stuck narrative gold by placing its setting in Los Angeles, which takes on a mythic character all its own with endless dark bungalows and decaying nightspots.

  • Contributed by Henry Graham

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