Enchanté: COLCOA film fest hits LA

coloca-logo5[1]The City of Lights City of Angels (COLCOA) Film Festival, a fixture in Los Angeles for 18 years, shows new and classic French films at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles. The fest runs April 21-28.

This year’s fest offers another prime schedule of French motion pictures. “We Love You, You Bastard” (or Salaud, on t’aime, to be French about it), the latest film by Claude Lelouch, is the opening night film.

Lelouch, a New Wave writer-director (auteur), won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with his 1966 “A Man and a Woman” (or Une Homme et un Femme). He conquered movie art-houses and has been active ever since. This new Lelouch movie stars two venerable French rock stars Johnny Hallyday and Eddy Mitchell in a story about sowing wild oats and dealing with the results.

What is showing to tempt noiristas? Well, 1960’s “Purple Noon,” one of the great film noirs, starring Alain Delon and Maurice Ronet. This gripping thriller was directed by Rene Clement, based on a novel by the American expatriate crime writer Patricia Highsmith and dazzlingly shot by Henri Decae. It screens at 1:45 p.m., on Tuesday, April 22.

our-heroes[1]le-dernier-diamant[1]Then, there’s the highly popular Film Noir Series on Friday, April 25. Can’t wait! At 5:30 p.m. is the North American premiere of “Our Heroes Died Tonight” (Nos héros sont morts ce soir). Set in early-1960s Paris, this minimalist noir, written and directed by David Perrault, plunges into the seedy world of semi-professional wrestling where backroom dives smell of Gauloise and sweat, and the fights are all rigged.

At 7:30 p.m. Eric Barbier’s heist thriller “The Last Diamond,” makes its international premiere. Starring Bérénice Bejo and Yvan Attal, the film follows in the tradition of Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Cercle Rouge.” The carrot for the crooks is mighty pretty: the fabled Florentine, a 137-carat yellow diamond last seen in 1918, which has resurfaced and is up for sale in an exclusive Antwerp auction house.


venus-in-fur[1]The Larriere Brothers’ crime drama “Love is a Perfect Crime” plays at 10:30 p.m. Adapted from “Incidences by Philippe Dijan, whose other novels inspired the films “Betty Blue and “Unforgivable,” this chilly thriller revolves around a University of Lausanne student who goes missing. The top suspect? Her professor and lover, natch. “Love is a Perfect Crime” stars Mathieu Almaric, Karin Viard, Maiwenn and Sara Forrestier. This is the film’s West Coast premiere.

The late, great François Truffaut will be honored Friday.

The late, great François Truffaut will be honored Friday.

There are two other enticing events on Friday. The massively influential but too mortal (and gone too soon) French auteur François Truffaut will be remembered at a 1:30 p.m. screening of his very personal 1977 tale of a femme-chaser “The Man Who Loved Women,” starring Charles Denner as the Man, and Brigitte Fossey, Nathalie Baye and the supremely piquant Leslie Caron as some of the Women. There will be a talk on Truffaut after the movie.

At 8:30 p.m., that brilliant and elusive Polish-American-French cineaste, Roman Polanski will be represented by his latest film “Venus in Fur,” based on the masochistic novel by Leopold Sacher-Masoch and David Ives’ play from it. “Venus” stars Polanski’s muse-mate Emmanuelle Seigner as an extroverted actress who shows up after hours to read for a part.

la-belle-et-la-bete[1]the-murderer-lives[1]On Saturday, at 11 a.m., the one French film of this year’s glittering menu that you absolutely don’t want to miss: the 1946 fairytale treasure “Beauty and the Beast,” written and directed by Jean Cocteau. Josette Day stars as Belle and Jean Marais as Bete. The film was photographed (lustrously) by Henri Alekan, scored (hauntingly) by Georges Auric and technically advised by Rene Clement, who we suspect, had more to do with the film‘s impeccable, fantastic technique than just advice.

If fairytales aren’t your tray of gateaux, there’s a brutally real alternative: “Abuse of Weakness,” a fierce semi-autobiographical drama by auteur Catherine Breillat about her own fleecing by a famous conman. “Abuse” screens at 7:45 p.m.

“We Love You, You Bastard” rescreens at 1:15 p.m.

Sunday brings the closing session of the competition, but there are two more major French classics on Monday, April 28. At 2 p.m., you can see the great director Patrice Chereau’s 1994 adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ breathless historical novel “Queen Margot” (La Reine Margot). Chereau’s film stars Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteuil.

And at 3:30 p.m. there’s another film noir, a black-and-white ‘40s classic: “The Murderer Lives at No. 21” by Henri-Georges Clouzot. French stage and screen actor Louis Jouvet stars as the relentless detective Wens.

The COLCOA screenings are at the Directors Guild, 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90046.


The Film Noir File: Oscar-winning ‘Nights of Cabiria’ is stylish darkness from Fellini

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Nights posterNights of Cabiria” (1957, Federico Fellini). 12 a.m. (9 p.m.); Friday, April 11.

Federico Fellini takes us into the sordid, sinful, falsely glamorous, sometimes oddly appealing and sometimes dangerous night world of Roman prostitution. He and his actress wife Giulietta Masina (the magical waif of “La Strada”) create one of their most memorable characters: the childlike, hard-luck whore, Cabiria – unlucky in love, but lucky in cinema. While the buoyant but put-upon Cabiria is batted back and forth among a succession of awful johns and lovers – a thief, a philandering movie star and a gentle-eyed suitor who may be a killer – she becomes a figure of almost Chaplinesque charm and resilience. Co-written by Pier Paolo Pasolini, costarring Francois Perier, and Amedeo Nazarri, with a wonderful, typically lilting score by Nino Rota. It’s one of Fellini’s masterpieces, and the Oscar winner as 1957’s best foreign language picture.

Is it noir? Well, at least partly. In fact, imagine the same story, shot the same way, in the same stylish black-and-white, but with English-speaking actors in an American city (say, Los Angeles or New York), and you’re thinking, more than likely, of another noir. Of course, the actual American remake, Bob Fosse’s colorful “Sweet Charity,” with Shirley MacLaine, is somewhat brighter and more sentimental, but it was a musical. If anyone was a maker of noir musicals, though, it was Fosse. And, if anyone was a poet of the dark sides of the city, it was Fellini. (In Italian, with subtitles.) [Read more...]


Film brings urban artist into focus after a life of obscurity

Finding Vivian Maier posterFinding Vivian Maier/2014/Ravine Pictures/83 min.

“Finding Vivian Maier,” a documentary about a mysterious photographer, is a real-life detective story that raises thorny issues about ethics and about art. The film revolves around a woman named Vivian Maier who, while working as a nanny on the North Side of Chicago in the 1950s and 60s, took more than 100,000 photos of people she encountered and places she explored, often with her charges in tow.

Perhaps oddly, she made little effort to share her work, printing relatively few of the negatives. In fact, she was reclusive and secretive; her huge stash of photos became part of her packrat’s storage nest along with stacks of newspapers (she was partial to crime stories), receipts, knick-knacks, jewelry and clothes. In 2007, a history buff named John Maloof bought a box of her negatives for about $400 at a thrift auction in Chicago, thinking it might serve a book project, then decided against including the photos.

Later Maloof rummaged through the box and became intrigued – make that obsessed – with finding out who took all the photos and why. Maier died in 2009 at 83 and her obit gave him the first meaty clue. The documentary retraces his sleuthing steps and pieces together a sketchy look at Maier’s eccentric life, interviewing a number of talking heads, including her former employers and their now-grown children.

Born in the Bronx to a French mother and Austrian father, Maier’s personal history is fraught with paradox and sadness. She reportedly feared men but was often bold in snapping pictures of strangers; she was an avid observer of human connection and emotion but had few friends; she was fondly remembered by most of the kids she cared for but was said to be on bad terms with her own family; in her later years, she may have been mentally ill. We’re presented with contradictory reports of what she was like, yet one thing is beyond dispute: she treasured her privacy.

Since being brought to light by Maloof, Maier’s work has garnered huge popular acclaim and some critical praise, though the fine-art establishment has been slower in bestowing its stamp of approval. Maloof, who co-directed this film with Charlie Siskel (Gene Siskel’s nephew), mostly comes off as an earnest cheerleader and champion of a neglected artist.

But it’s hard to overlook the fact that Maloof profits from the lifelong effort of a woman now dead who by all accounts kept her work to herself. I couldn’t help feeling at times that Maloof was providing a protest-too-much justification for his quest to illuminate the shadows of someone else’s life. As both co-director and interviewee, Maloof doesn’t have to answer any hard questions. That said, Maier’s impressive body of work deserves discovery and appreciation.

At its best, “Finding Vivian Maier,” is a first-class mystery and, through the gorgeous black and white photos, a fascinating look at long-ago urban life. At its worst, “Finding Vivian Maier,” is documentary filmmaking at its least rigorous.

“Finding Vivian Maier” opened last weekend and is currently in theaters.


Noirish sci-fi ‘Under the Skin’ is both artful and annoying

Under the Skin posterUnder the Skin/2013/Film4, BFI et al/108 min.

“Under the Skin,” a noirish sci-fi film by Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast,” “Birth”) is austere and visually striking, inscrutable and haunting. It’s also a meditation on what it’s like to be a woman in contemporary society. Or not.

The “woman” here is an alien in disguise, played by Scarlett Johansson, who has come to Earth to hunt men. After climbing into the pretty skin of an expired human, she dons a fluffy black wig and tarty clothes, and applies a bright pop of color to those famous pouty lips.

Her trap set, she drives a van through the streets of Glasgow and seduces her victims, leading them, zombielike, into pools of black gunk. Then the tables turn; she shows vulnerability and becomes the hunted.

Shot on a low-budget often with hidden cameras and using a mix of professionals (like Johansson) and non-actors, “Under the Skin” feels dually creepy – it tells a strange story and, reportedly, the everyday Scotsmen she picks up didn’t recognize the raven-haired, English-accented Johansson or know that a movie was being made.

Glazer artfully creates a mood of anxiety, dread and mystery – to that end, he puts dashes of Polanski, Hitchcock, Kubrick, DePalma, Scorsese, Cocteau and Buñuel into this cinematic stew. What’s not in the recipe is meat – we get virtually nothing in the way of back story, exposition or even a suggestion as to why any of this is happening (a question that is answered in the source novel by Michel Faber).

Though the spare dialogue adds to the tension, it also keeps us in the dark in terms of a traditional narrative. But perhaps that is Glazer’s point: since we are watching a story of an alien it’s fitting that it unfolds not in a common language but in ambiguous images.

Depending on your taste, “Under the Skin” will be exquisitely harrowing or peculiarly maddening.

“Under the Skin” opens April 4 in New York at the Regal Union Square 14 and AMC Empire 25 and in Los Angeles at the ArcLight Hollywood and AMC Century City 15. On April 4 and April 5, at the Regal in NYC, director Jonathan Glazer will do a Q&A after the 7:20 p.m. shows. The film will expand nationwide throughout April.


The Film Noir File: Sam Fuller takes us down ‘Shock Corridor’

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Shock Corridor” (1963, Samuel Fuller). 10 p.m. (7 p.m.), Saturday, March 29.

Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 16, 2011.

Friday, March 28

12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “The Racket” (1928, Lewis Milestone). The first movie version of playwright/screenwriter/Chicago crime reporter Bartlett Cormack’s tense play about the war of nerves between a tough, obsessed police captain and a brutal mob boss. With Thomas Meighan, Louis Wolheim and Marie Prevost. The movie was remade in 1951 at Howard Hughes’ RKO (by director John Cromwell), with Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan.

Night of the Living Dead poster1:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m.): “Night of the Living Dead” (1968, George Romero). With a plague of blood-thirsty, lurching, relentlessly oncoming zombies rampaging all over the Pittsburgh area, a group of bickering and sometimes hysterical survivors barricade themselves in a suburban house near a graveyard, and try to survive the longest night of their lives. One of the most noirish – and certainly one of the scariest – of all low-budget horror classics, directed (and written) by George Romero with nerve-rending, savage black-and-white pseudo-realism and some macabre humor. Starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea.

3:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.): “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962, Robert Aldrich). With Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono and Anna Lee. Reviewed in FNB on July 28, 2012.

Saturday, March 29

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “His Girl Friday” (1940, Howard Hawks). With Cary Grant. Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart and John Qualen. Reviewed in FNB on Jan. 22, 2013.

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “Shock Corridor” (1963, Samuel Fuller). See Pick of the Week.

Rhonda Fleming and Vincent Price are supporting players in "While the City Sleeps."

Rhonda Fleming and Vincent Price are supporting players in “While the City Sleeps.”

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “While the City Sleeps” (1956, Fritz Lang). The great film noir director Fritz Lang worked even longer in Hollywood than he did in Germany, and of all the pictures of his American career, his two favorites were reportedly the 1936 lynch-mob classic “Fury” (starring Spencer Tracy and scripted by Bartlett Cormack), and the lesser-known crime thriller “While The City Sleeps.” Set in a big metropolitan newspaper which is in the throes of transition and a possible take-over, the movie’s complex plot revolves around both the corporate battles at the paper, and the big news story that is consuming the city and the newsroom: a series of vicious serial slayings by an unknown psychopathic killer. It’s an engrossing melodrama, steeped in stark, boozy, big-city ’50s atmosphere.

The remarkable cast is headed by noir mainstays Dana Andrews and Ida Lupino (as star reporters). Andrews and Lupino bring a whole raft of urban noir memories along with them. So does the supporting cast of journalists, executives and crime-fighters, played by George Sanders, Vincent Price, Thomas Mitchell, Howard Duff, Rhonda Fleming, James Craig, Sally Forrest and Mae Marsh. The young leather-jacketed psycho-killer they’re after is played by John Barrymore, Jr. (aka John Drew Barrymore, John Barrymore’s son and Drew Barrymore’s dad.)

That all-star cast and Lang’s moody mastery of big-city tension and cynicism keep you on the hook. Though we wouldn’t rank this picture above “Scarlet Street” and “The Big Heat” (which Lang apparently did), it’s an underseen, underrated gem of film noir, hot off the presses, from the genre’s heyday.

The Lady from Shanghai posterSunday, March 30

12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948, Orson Welles). With Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane and Glenn Anders. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 26, 2013.

Monday, March 31

9 p.m. (6 p.m.): “On the Waterfront” (1954, Elia Kazan). With Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 20, 2013.

3:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.): North by Northwest” (1959, Alfred Hitchcock). With Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau. Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 17, 2012.



The Film Noir File: Capote’s true-crime shocker still chills

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

In Cold Blood bookIn Cold Blood” (1967, Richard Brooks). Tuesday, Feb. 25; 10:15 a.m. (7:15 a.m.). It was one of the literary sensations of the mid-‘60s: Truman Capote’s “non-fiction novel,” “In Cold Blood” – a beautifully written study of two drifter ex-con killers, Dick Hickok and Perry Smith, who murder an ordinary, nice Kansas family, the Clutters, while robbing their home. After the crime, the murderers are pursued through bleak Midwestern landscapes by the tenacious F.B.I. detective Alvin Dewey.

Capote researched the book with his childhood friend, novelist Harper Lee (“To Kill a Mockingbird“), digging deeply and raptly into both the blameless family who were killed and the misfit outlaws who killed them, in cold blood. It’s a perfectly shaped but deeply disturbing book, and more than a few critics have suggested that Capote was a bit in love with one of the murderers, Perry Smith, and a bit over-fascinated with Perry’s and Dick’s under-the radar, maybe covertly homo-erotic criminal life.

Maybe. Maybe not. In the film, which was written and directed by Richard Brooks (”The Blackboard Jungle,“ “Elmer Gantry”), actor John Forsythe, an Alfred Hitchcock favorite, plays detective Dewey, and two young on-the-rise actors play (superbly) Dick and Perry. Scott Wilson absolutely nails crew-cut conman Dick’s jock veneer and sharpie amorality and Robert Blake catches Perry’s deadly sadness and wounded grace – like a bird trembling in a hand.

Brooks is a more self-consciously tough writer than Capote and the movie is different, and harder, in tone and mood, than its source – though Capote said he loved it, and Conrad Hall’s stunning black and white cinematography of roads and small towns and the icy faces of the two killers, is a good equivalent for Capote’s lyrical prose.

The film by Richard Brooks is harder in tone than Truman Capote’s novel.

The film by Richard Brooks is harder in tone than Truman Capote’s novel.

Hall’s photography, along with Wilson‘s and Blake‘s performances, make “In Cold Blood” a major neo-noir. It‘s also a fine adaptation of an unforgettable book, and one of the great true-crime movies – even though it’s hard to accept the deep-voiced, cynical-sounding Paul Stewart, one of the old Orson Welles Mercury stock company, as the movie‘s writer-figure, its equivalent for Capote. Perhaps they should have cast Truman himself in the role. Ham that he was, he probably would have taken it. The back-story of how Capote and Harper Lee researched the book, provides the subject matter for two more good neo-noirs: the biopics “Infamous“ (2006), in which Toby Jones plays Capote, and “Capote” (2005), in which Philip Seymour Hoffman plays him.

Somewhat eerily, “In Cold Blood” has a number of bizarre links to the great, dark gold-hunting saga, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” (See below.) It was Perry Smith’s favorite movie, and he watched it repeatedly. Perry also thought that Walter Huston, in his “Treasure” role of grizzled old prospector Howard, was the dead image of Perry’s own father.

Additionally, actor Robert Blake (Perry in the 1967 film) as a child played the little Mexican boy who sells Bogart the winning lottery ticket in “Treasure.”

Friday, Feb. 21                                                               

Gaslight poster1 a.m. (10 p.m.); “Gaslight” (1944, George Cukor). With Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and Angela Lansbury. Reviewed in FNB on August 25, 2012.

Saturday, Feb. 22

3:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.): “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt. Reviewed in FNB on November 3, 2012.

Monday, Feb. 24

1:15 a.m. (10:15 p.m.): “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” (1965, Martin Ritt). Richard Burton is sodden and defeated Alec Leamas, a seedy, sad British intelligence man trapped in a world of cruelty, deception and betrayal. This is international intrigue as the game is really played. In the ‘60s, this was the anti-Bond spy movie, based on author (and ex-intelligence man) John le Carre’s first big critical-commercial success. It’s a meticulous portrait of unheroic men and women in an unheroic profession, amid a Cold War that may kill them, and almost certainly will debase them. Shot in monochrome in a sea of grays, with a tremendous cast: Burton (at his best), Oskar Werner, Claire Bloom, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Sam Wanamaker and Bernard Lee (James Bond’s “M,” trading with the enemy).

Tuesday, Feb. 23

8:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.) “Lifeboat” (1944, Alfred Hitchcock). With Tallulah Bankhead, Walter Slezak and John Hodiak. Reviewed in FNB on Jan. 10, 2014.

10: 15 a.m. (7:15 a.m.): “In Cold BloodSee Pick of the Week.


New York’s Ziegfeld Theater celebrates film collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

By Mike Wilmington and Film Noir Blonde

Few actor-director collaborations have generated more cinematic excitement and sheer brilliance than the team of director Martin Scorsese and star actor Leonardo DiCaprio – two kings of neo-noir. In their five films together, they have left an indelible stamp on our movies and on our pop culture.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio around the time of "Shutter Island." Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Staff

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio publicize the release of “Shutter Island.” Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

DiCaprio was first recommended to Scorsese by the director‘s other long-term actor-collaborator Robert De Niro, who was impressed by Leonardo after playing his father in the 1993 family drama “This Boy’s Life.” DiCaprio and Scorsese joined up in 2002 for the explosive period gangster saga “Gangs of New York” and the rest is neo-noir history.

DiCaprio and Scorsese and their chemistry will be celebrated this Thursday and Friday (Feb. 13 and 14) in New York City at Bowtie Cinema’s storied Ziegfeld Theater, with a five-film retrospective.

The retrospective begins on Thursday with afternoon screenings of “The Aviator” (2004) with DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and their Oscar-winning all-star gangster drama “The Departed“ (2006).

The program also includes a live panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday with DiCaprio and two other key Scorsese collaborators on “The Wolf of Wall Street“: screenwriter Terence Winter and longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Their talk will be followed by a screening of “Wolf of Wall Street,” one of the most controversial of all 2013 American movies, and a multiple Oscar nominee. The discussion will be moderated by critic-filmmaker Kent Jones, a Scorsese collaborator as well.

On Friday, the retrospective continues with showings of the psychological thriller “Shutter Island” (2010) and “Gangs of New York” (2002).

DiCaprio is one actor who’s used his stardom well. And we can’t think of another director who has done more for film noir appreciation and history than Scorsese. The guy has been watching noirs since his Little Italy boyhood and making neo-noirs since 1973’s classic “Mean Streets” (and, arguably, since 1968’s “Who’s That Knocking at my Door”). He also shares his love for the genre with lectures, introductions for box sets and in his “Scorsese Screens” column for TCM’s Now Playing. All that and “Boardwalk Empire” too.

For showtimes and ticket information, visit www.bowtiecinemas.com. The Ziegfeld Theater is located at 141 W. 54th St. in Manhattan.


The Film Noir File: ‘All the King’s Men’ a political powerhouse

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

All the King’s Men” (1949, Robert Rossen). Saturday, Feb. 8, 10 p.m. (7 p.m.). Robert Rossen’s tough, iconoclastic adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Deep South politics, the gullible electorate and the smart rustic crook, Willie Stark, who exploits them, isn’t usually classed as a film noir. But it’s certainly as dark, hard-edged and stylish a drama of American political criminality and corruption as any movie has given us. It looks and feels like a noir, and it hits you in the gut like one. Willie Stark, who was modeled on the legendary Louisiana governor and demagogue Huey Long, remains one of the classic portraits of political gangsterism.

All the King's Men posterStark – played by movie tough guy Broderick Crawford in his Oscar-winning performance – starts out, like a few other Southern demagogues (including George Wallace) as a “man of the people” and a populist. But, along the way, on his road to near-dictatorial power, Stark begins cutting deals, bullying his enemies, and turning his state into a piggy-bank for himself and his cronies. Every step of that way is witnessed and recorded by intellectual newsman turned Stark supporter (and then foe) Jack Burden (John Ireland), who follows Willie from his back-country idealist origins to a dark, tragic climax.

Robert Rossen made “All the King’s Men” after writing many gangster and crime scripts for Warner Brothers. He directed two classic film noirs: “Johnny O’Clock,” with Dick Powell, and the classic “Body and Soul,” with John Garfield. Until Rossen directed another classic noir in 1961 (the gritty black-and-white pool-hall saga “The Hustler,” with Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason and George C. Scott) “All the King’s Men” remained his best film. Tough and stylish, hard as nails and idealistic underneath, it’s as dark as “Body and Soul” or “The Hustler.” The great cast includes Crawford, Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek, Shepperd Strudwick and, in another Oscar-winning performance, as Willie’s hard-bitten right-hand babe Sadie Burke, that great neglected actress, Mercedes McCambridge.

Wednesday, Feb. 5

The incomparable Edith Head dressed Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in "Notorious."

The incomparable costume designer Edith Head dressed Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in “Notorious.”

1:30 a.m. (10:30 p.m.): “Notorious” (1946, Alfred Hitchcock). With Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Rains. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 20, 2012.

Thursday, Feb. 6

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “Caged” (1950, John Cromwell). With Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead and Hope Emerson. Reviewed in FNB on July 13, 2012.

3:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.). “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962, Robert Aldrich). With Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Victor Buono. Reviewed in FNB on July 28, 2012).

6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Wait Until Dark” (1967, Terence Young). With Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna. Reviewed in FNB on 12/12/12 (Dec. 12, 2012)

Friday, Feb. 7

6:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m.): “Night Must Fall” (1937, Richard Thorpe). With Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell and Dame May Whitty. Reviewed in FNB on May 15, 2013.

4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.): “The Lavender Hill Mob” (1951, Charles Crichton), With Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway and Sidney James.. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 27, 2013.

Saturday, Feb. 8

7 a.m. (4 a.m.): “The Long Voyage Home” (1940, John Ford). With Thomas Mitchell, Barry Fitzgerald and John Wayne. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 20, 2013.

9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “Crossfire” (1947, Edward Dmytryk). With Robert Young, Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan. Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 10, 2013.

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “All the King’s Men” (See Pick of the Week.)

Monday, Feb. 10

9:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m.): “Foreign Correspondent” (1940, Alfred Hitchcock). With Joel McCrea, Laraine Day and George Sanders. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 20, 2013.


Film noir greats ‘Shadow of a Doubt,’ In a Lonely Place,’ Double Indemnity’ and more on the big screen in LA

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

Shadow of a Doubt” (1943, Alfred Hitchcock) is the 1 p.m. matinee Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

A bright and beautiful small town girl named Charlotte “Charlie” Newton (Teresa Wright) is bored. Bored with her well-ordered home in her Norman Rockwellish little city of Santa Rosa, Calif., – where trees line the sunlit streets, everyone goes to church on Sunday and lots of them read murder mysteries at night. Charlie has more exotic dreams. She adores her globe-trotting, urbane Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten) – for whom she was nicknamed – and is deliriously happy when he shows up in Santa Rosa for a visit.

Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright play kindred spirits, sort of, in “Shadow.”

Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright play kindred spirits, sort of, in “Shadow.”

But Uncle Charlie has some secrets that no one in his circle would guess – not Uncle Charlie’s adoring sister (Patricia Collinge), nor his good-hearted brother-in-law (Henry Travers), nor their mystery-loving neighbor Herbie (Hume Cronyn), nor Charlie herself. Uncle Charlie, who conceals a darker personality and profession beneath his charming persona, is on the run, pursued by a dogged police detective (Macdonald Carey), who suspects him of being a notorious serial killer who seduces rich old widows and kills them for their money. As handsome, cold-blooded Uncle Charlie, Cotten, who also called “Shadow” his personal favorite film, is, with Robert Walker and Anthony Perkins, one of the three great Hitchcockian psychopaths.

“Shadow of a Doubt,” released in 1943, was Hitchcock’s sixth American movie and the one he often described as his favorite. As he explained to François Truffaut, this was because he felt that his critical enemies, the “plausibles,” could have nothing to quibble about with “Shadow.” It was written by two superb chroniclers of Americana, Thornton Wilder (“Our Town”) and Sally Benson (“Meet Me in St. Louis”), along with Hitch’s constant collaborator, wife Alma Reville. The result is one of the supreme examples of Hitchcockian counterpoint: with a sunny, tranquil background against which dark terror erupts.

Barbara Stanwyck book

On Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., the American Cinematheque presents a Nicholas Ray night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood: “Johnny Guitar,” starring Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden, and “In a Lonely Place,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. As Jean-Luc Godard said: “Nicholas Ray is the cinema.” And speaking of Godard, the AC’s Aero Theatre is hosting a Godard retrospective, starting Feb. 20.

Femmes fatales don’t particularly like birthdays, but here’s an exception:  “Double Indemnity” turns 70 this year! Did you know Raymond Chandler made a cameo in the film? Read the story here.

And be sure to attend on Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica: Barbara Stanwyck biographer Victoria Wilson will sign her book and introduce a screening of “Double Indemnity” and “The Bitter Tea of General Yen.” The signing starts at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Wilson has two other signings coming up; for details, call Larry Edmunds Bookshop at 323-463-3273.


Costa-Gavras hits a peak in true-crime thriller ‘Z’

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Z posterZ” (1969, Costa-Gavras). 3:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.). Tuesday, Feb. 4.

In Greece, in the turbulent 1960s, under the tyrannical reign of “The Colonels,” an extremely popular leftist opposition leader (played by Yves Montand and based on the real-life politician Lambrakis) tries to speak at a political rally. But, before he even arrives, he is frustrated by the Greek police, by obstructionist “regulations” and by a vicious band of hecklers and armed thugs outside the hall. Finally, while crossing the street to the rally, Montand’s political leader is assaulted with a blow to the head that eventually kills him.

The police do nothing, though the killers are well known to them. These deliberately undiligent law enforcers and unresponsive government leaders (namely Pierre Dux) ignore the facts and leads, including one persistent witness (Charles Denner), whom the assassins try to run down in the street s most famous scene and image). But an incorruptible court investigator (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and a crusading young journalist (Jacques Perrin) keep gathering facts and tracking down the guilty.

Greek-French director Constantin Costa-Gavras had had an early ’60s film noir hit with his first film, the cop thriller “The Sleeping Car Murders.” It’s a fast exhilarating murder mystery, based on the Sebastian Japrisot novel, with a cast that boasted many of the same actors as “Z“: Montand, Trintignant, Perrin, and Denner. In “Z,” working with screenwriter Jorge Semprun, Gavras goes further, digs deeper. He exposed a real-life murder and a plot that involved the Greek police, right-wing political parties and government leaders — all part of the oppressive Greek regime.

The film’s impact was enormous. The French-made “Z,” a huge international hit and the 1970 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Picture, is one of the most influential true-crime thrillers ever made. (In French, with English subtitles.)

Wednesday, Jan. 29

Manchurian Candidate poster8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962, John Frankenheimer). With Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury Reviewed in FNB on July 18, 2013.

12:15 a.m. (9:15 a.m.). “Pennies from Heaven” (1981, Herbert Ross). Adapted from writer Dennis Potter’s brilliant British TV mini-series, this Depression-era film noir musical was probably star Steve Martin’s finest hour. He plays a traveling salesman, who, together with the ravishing Bernadette Peters, sings and lip-synchs his way to an unplanned career as an outlaw lover on the run. One of the major unfairly neglected Hollywood musicals, and a marvelous neo-noir. Features a wonderful score of vintage period recordings (including the title song) and standout dancing from lanky Christopher Walken.

Thursday, Jan. 30

9:45 a.m. (6:45 a.m.): “The Kennel Murder Case” (1933, Michael Curtiz). William Powell plays the snobbish Manhattan socialite/sleuth Philo Vance as he turns his detecting prowess to foul play at a Long Island dog show. Snappily acted by Powell and directed by Curtiz, and one of the best Golden Age detective series movies.

10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962, Robert Aldrich). With Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Victor Buono. Reviewed in FNB on July 28, 2012.

Sunday, Feb. 2

6 a.m. 3 a.m.: “The Letter” (1940, William Wyler). With Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. Reviewed in FNB on Sept. 19, 2012.

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “12 Angry Men“ (1957, Sidney Lumet). With Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley and Jack Warden, Reviewed in FNB on June 13, 2013.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Lost Weekend” (1945, Billy Wilder). Ray Milland as Don Birnam, an alcoholic writer is left alone by his girlfriend (Jane Wyman) and his brother (Phillip Terry) for a long, lost weekend in New York City. In something close in mood to a German expressionist nightmare, Don will try to sell his soul for a bottle, to find the booze (and the shame) that he’s hidden, and to stumble from (drunken) ecstasy to (withdrawal) agony, from life to near-death, from one empty glass to another.

It’s a noir without crime, but with plenty of guilt and punishment. “The Lost Weekend” won the Best Picture Oscar; Wilder won Oscars for directing and co-writing, and Milland won Best Actor.

The film’s source was the best-selling novel by Charles Jackson, himself an alcoholic writer, and a man who knew whereof he spoke. (The actress playing the hat-check girl in the night club became Wilder’s wife, Audrey Wilder.)

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “Spellbound” (1945, Alfred Hitchcock). With Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck and Leo G. Carroll. Reviewed in FNB on Jan. 9, 2013.

Monday, Feb. 3

7 a.m. (4 a.m.): “Mildred Pierce” (1945, Michael Curtiz). With Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Ann Blyth and Zachary Scott. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 1, 2010.

4:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.): “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955, Nicholas Ray). With James Dea, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper. Reviewed in FNB on April 13, 2013.