I saw almost twice as many movies in October than I did in September, thanks largely to the Noir City DC 2016 festival. The 11 movies I watched before Noir City can be found here and the nine I watched at Noir City here. Everything else you can find below.
We’re almost finished with October, which means the horror movies will have their reign for just a bit longer. After that, it will be time for some real scares, true horror, nail-biting paranoia, gut-wrenching (insert your own clichés) goodness: film noir.
November is, of course, Noirvember, a month filled with film noir of all kinds. I don’t know if I’ll be able to match last year’s 30 Films in 30 Days, but I get all giddy just thinking about it. You’d think I’d want a break after Noir City DC, but I’m an addict: I just have to have more film noir.
In his introduction, Eddie Muller called the British film Corridor of Mirrors (1948) “probably the most unknown film on our (Noir City DC) schedule.” Muller also explained that British noir differs from American noir in several different ways, particularly in the British artistic response(s) to World War II, which often included art, fantasy, and obsession as ways to cope with war.
Two clarifications are in order. First, when reporting the events of Noir City DC 2016, I want to give you a taste of Eddie Muller’s film introductions that is as accurate as possible while providing some thoughts of my own. I’ll try to make it clear when I am quoting or paraphrasing what Muller said. My opinions will hopefully be read only as my opinions; I’m not trying to put words in Muller’s mouth. (When in doubt, listen to Muller, not me!)
Second, last Sunday marked the fourth time I’ve seen The Narrow Margin in 20 months. I am still not tired of it and could watch it again right now. If you’ve never seen it, I hope Muller’s thoughts on the film (and maybe even mine) will convince you to seek it out.
Sunday was my final day at Noir City DC 2016 and the final day that Eddie Muller would be on hand to introduce films. The viewing day began with a film I’d never seen, Specter of the Rose (1946), written, produced and directed by Ben Hecht. Hecht’s work is now legendary, but at the time he was a newspaper man writing for the Chicago Tribune. Screenwriter/director/producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz urged Hecht to write screenplays for Hollywood, telling him, “There’s millions to be grabbed out here and your only competition are idiots!”
Eddie Muller made his first Noir City DC 2016 introduction on Friday night by focusing on the larger scope of this year’s festival: the Art of Darkness, a theme that explores not just the arts in film noir, but more importantly the loneliness and isolation of being an artist, the terrors of collaboration, the darkness of the creative soul. Good stuff. Although Muller noted that some of the 23 films shown at Noir City DC are straight-up noir movies that have little or nothing to do with the arts, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) certainly does. (Most of what you’ll read here are paraphrases of Muller’s comments, some of which I couldn’t take down fast enough.)
Before I head back to Noir City DC this afternoon, I wanted to briefly report on two film noir movies that’ve been on my radar for quite awhile that I’m just now getting around to watching.
Although the turnout for Monday night’s films was disappointing, it was a Monday night, and, as one of my friends reminded me, any opportunity to see these films on a large screen is an opportunity worth celebrating.
Although it wasn’t the first film of the day, the first film I saw at Noir City DC 2016 was Gilda (1946), the second time I’d seen the film, but the first time on the big screen. (You can read my previous thoughts here.) The film was introduced by noir author and historian Foster Hirsch, who wrote one of my favorite books on film noir, The Dark Side of the Screen.