My apologies for not providing any further information or comment on the films I watched during the last part of October. Several projects presented me from going into further detail this time, but I did link to a few films I expounded on a bit further, including many of the Noir City DC films. But rest assured: Noirvember will offer at least 30 film noir titles that are (1) new to me and (2) were all released during the “classic” noir era (1941-1958), give or take a year or two here and there. Also here’s Part I and Part II from October. So let’s finish up the month:
Today at 10am EST on TCM’s Noir Alley, hosted by Eddie Muller:
Nearly two decades after the death of her rich aunt, Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) has married Walter (Kirk Douglas, in his very first role), a district attorney whom Martha doesn’t love, but the marriage is one of convenience. Martha’s former friend Sam (Van Heflin) drifts into town, meets a sultry woman named Toni (Lizabeth Scott), who’s on parole, and tries to convince Martha to use her influence to keep Toni out of the joint. Nice film noir that tiptoes along that thin line separating noir from melodrama, but the cast is out of sight. Although uncredited, Byron Haskin directed at least part of the film since Lewis Milestone was away from the film for a considerable time adding his support to a set decorators’ strike. Although available on Blu-ray from Film Chest, the reviews are not good. This is another excellent noir that deserves a better restoration.
Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) has had a good run as a safe-cracker, so good that he and his wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman) can afford to retire from London bank jobs and relax at their Spanish villa. All is well until an old associate named Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) demands that Gal pull one more heist for London crime boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). If you’re a fan of classic film noir, you’ll recognize this as the basic set-up from Out of the Past (1947), but the similarities pretty much end there.
Although Noir City DC 2017 has come to an end, I’m still working my way thorough my notes and hope to report the films I haven’t already discussed. One of the highlights of the festival was seeing one of my all-time favorites on the big screen for the first time: Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past, which marked not only the film’s 70th anniversary, but also the Robert Mitchum Centennial.
As part of the Joan Fontaine Centennial, Noir City DC programmed two of her noir titles that often get overlooked: Ivy (1947) and Born to Be Bad (1950). Eddie Muller introduced the films by commenting on Fontaine’s tempestuous relationship with her sister Olivia de Havilland, taking sibling rivalry to a whole other level. De Havilland was born first and became an actress first, but Fontaine was always close behind, spouting an “I can do it, too” attitude. Fontaine won her first Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar in 1941 for Suspicion, the same year de Havilland was nominated for Hold Back the Dawn. (De Havilland won her first Oscar in 1946 with To Each His Own.) Mutual congratulations were not part of their family dynamic. It got worse: de Havilland didn’t tell Fontaine of their mother’s death for weeks. At one time Fontaine told a reporter something along the lines of ‘I married first, won an Oscar first, and she’ll be mad if I die first!’
Film Noir Foundation President Eddie Muller congratulated Todd Hitchcock, the AFI Silver’s Director of Programming, for finding a 35mm print of a film Muller wanted to show at Noir City 15 back in January, Any Number Can Win (Mélodie en sous-sol), the second film in Saturday’s Alain Delon double feature. Muller treated us to a Walter Matthau double feature on Friday, so here’s an Alain Delon double feature, which caused Muller to joke, “Walter Matthau, Alain Delon… They’re like brothers, right?”
I ask you, how many times in your life have you ever read or heard the words “Walter Matthau Double Feature”? You can’t exactly envision people lining up and down the block for such a double bill, but I’d say the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center brought in well over 100 people for both The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and Charley Varrick (1973) last night.