Film noir makes a fascinating chapter in TCM’s film fest

Too Late for Tears poster

There’s nothing quite like a history lesson from the TCM Classic Film Festival. No dull tomes or dreary lectures here. The fest, which chose history as its theme, instead connected us with the past through first-rate storytelling, movie craft and visual splendor.

We at Film Noir Blonde are very pleased that film noir’s popularity continues to grow and so our favorite genre was well represented at the fest, which ran March 26-29 in Hollywood.

It was a treat to see “Too Late for Tears” (1949, Byron Haskin), starring Lizabeth Scott, Arthur Kennedy and Dan Duryea. The film has been newly restored by the Film Noir Foundation. Scott and Duryea did not disappoint.

Nor did the rest of the slate.

Reign of Terror” (1949, Anthony Mann) took us back to the French Revolution in a perfect melding of history and noir.

“Rififi” by Jules Dassin influenced countless other films.

“Rififi” by Jules Dassin influenced countless other films.

The unforgettable “Rififi” (1955, Jules Dassin) thoroughly captivated its audience. We loved this union of an American noir director and a French setting. François Truffaut named “Rififi” as the best film noir of all time.

One of the finest films of the 1950’s was also part of the program. “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955, Nicholas Ray), starring James Dean, is both a daring neo-noir and a visual poem.

It was exciting to see “Nightmare Alley” (1947, Edmund Goulding) get its due. The film is truly a masterpiece that should have more recognition.

Tyrone Power and Coleen Gray star in “Nightmare Alley.”

Tyrone Power and Coleen Gray star in “Nightmare Alley.”

Psycho” (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) retained its power to chill us and while watching Hitchcock’s plushly romantic “Rebecca” (1940) we were reminded of the impressive tradition of British noir.

No matter how many times we’ve seen “The Apartment” (1960, Billy Wilder), it’s still fresh, darkly funny and heartbreaking. Who else but a noir master like Wilder could rattle the cage of Corporate America so adroitly? And screen legend Shirley MacLaine shared memories before the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Out of Sight” (2001, Steven Soderbergh)is a top-notch contemporary noir, adapted from Elmore Leonard’s novel and starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.

Also memorable was the groundbreaking cop thriller “The French Connection” and Q&A with director William Friedkin and Alec Baldwin at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Friedkin is great with an audience and Baldwin came out of his shell just a bit. 😉

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