Film Noir File: Go deeper into depravity with the second month of TCM’s Summer of Darkness

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week: Summer of Darkness Chapter 5

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “The Lady from Shanghai.”

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “The Lady from Shanghai.”

Each Friday, throughout July, running from dawn to dusk and back again, TCM is whistling up practically every classic film noir you can think of. Curated and hosted by the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and the Noir City film festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other big bad towns where people prowl around after midnight, TCM’s Summer of Darkness is one festival of classic dreams and nightmares you won’t want to miss.

Friday, July 3

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Johnny Belinda” (Jean Negulesco, 1946).

8 a.m. (5 a.m.): “Key Largo” (John Huston, 1948). Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson are pitted against each other in this tense adaptation of the Maxwell Anderson play. Bogie is a WW2 vet held hostage (along with Lauren Bacall and Lionel Barrymore) during a tropical storm by brutal mobster Robinson and his gang. Claire Trevor, as a fading chanteuse, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “The Lady from Shanghai” (Orson Welles, 1948).

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “The Bribe” (Robert Z. Leonard, 1949). Cabaret torcher Ava Gardner pours it on for cop Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton and Vincent Price. A lot of footage from this lesser-known black-and-white romantic suspenser wound up in Steve Martin and Carl Reiner’s film noir parody “Dead Men Don‘t Wear Plaid.”

1:15 a.m. (10:15 a.m.): “Scene of the Crime” (Roy Rowland, 1949). Van Johnson and Arlene Dahl in a sexy mystery thriller.

They Live by Night poster

3 p.m. (12 p.m.): “They Live by Night” (Nicholas Ray, 1949).

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “The Threat” (Felix Feist, 1949). Charles McGraw takes a con’s revenge.

6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “White Heat” (Raoul Walsh, 1949). “Top of the world, Ma!” James Cagney screams, in one of the all-time great noir performances and last scenes. Cagney’s character is Cody Jarrett, a psycho gun-crazy gangster with a mother complex.

Edmond O’Brien is the undercover cop in Cody’s gang, Virginia Mayo is Cody’s faithless wife, and Margaret Wycherly is Ma. One of the true noir masterpieces.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Big Clock” (John Farrow, 1948).

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “The Window” (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949).

11:15 p.m. (8:15 p.m.): “Shadow on the Wall” (Pat Jackson, 1950). A sensitive child (Gigi Perreau) thinks she’s a witness to a family slaying. With Zachary Scott.

12:45 a.m. (9:45 a.m.): “High Wall” (Curtis Bernhardt, 1947). Murder and psychiatry, with Robert Taylor and Audrey Totter.

2:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m.): “The Long Goodbye” (Robert Altman, 1973).

4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.): “Marlowe” (Paul Bogart, 1969).

Sunday, July 5

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “The Band Wagon” (Vincente Minnelli, 1953). With a brilliant dance parody of Mickey Spillane with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Also on at 4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.) on Wednesday, July 8.

West Side Story poster

5:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m.): “West Side Story” (Robert Wise, 1961).

Monday, July 6

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (Jack Webb, 1955).

Tuesday, July 7

8:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.): “Doctor X” (Michael Curtiz, 1932).

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “Mystery of the Wax Museum” (Michael Curtiz, 1933).

Thursday, July 9

8:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m.): “Finger of Guilt” (“The Intimate Stranger“) (Joseph Losey, 1956). A blackmail thriller about a persecuted director (Richard Basehart), set in the world of British studio filmmaking, and directed (under the pseudonym “Joseph Walton“), by blacklist victim Losey.

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “Time Without Pity” (Joseph Losey, 1957).

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “Dead of Night” (Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, Charles Crichton, 1945).

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Shady lady delight: ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ at Lacma

As part of the Essential Orson Welles series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “The Lady from Shanghai” and “Mr. Arkadin” will play Saturday, May 24, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Lady from Shanghai/1948/Columbia Pictures/87 min.

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles

The Lady from Shanghai poster“Citizen Kane” is hallowed cinematic ground, I know, but my favorite Orson Welles film is “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948), which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, playing opposite his real-life wife Rita Hayworth, one of the most popular entertainers of the 1940s.

In “The Lady from Shanghai” Welles plays Michael O’Hara, an Irish merchant seaman, in between ships in New York. By chance, or so he thinks, he meets the wily blonde operator Elsa Bannister (Hayworth) and saves her from being mugged in the park. Elsa invites Michael to join her as she sets sail for Acapulco.

The boat belongs to her husband, a wizened, creepy criminal lawyer named Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane), and he’ll be on the trip too. So will his partner, the moon-faced and sinister George Grisby (Glenn Anders).

O’Hara agrees regardless. “Once I’d seen her,” he says, “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.” On their voyage (the yacht belonged to Errol Flynn), Elsa and Michael flirt every chance they get; Arthur gets touchy and calls her “Lovah,” in a most unloving way; Grisby is generally unpleasant.

The tension builds, then breaks when they reach San Francisco. But not for long. Grisby has a plan to cash in on an insurance policy by faking his own murder and bribes Michael to help him. Need I say the plan doesn’t quite work out as they’d hoped? This is film noir, you know. “The Lady from Shanghai” is richly surreal and haunting in its intensity.

Welles and cinematographer Charles Lawton Jr. use staggering angles and startling black shadow almost to the point of abstraction. Two of the most famous sequences are the aquarium and the funhouse hall of mirrors at the end. Of the latter, Time Out notes that “it stands as a brilliant expressionist metaphor for sexual unease and its accompanying loss of identity.”

The script, based on the Sherwood King novel “If I Die Before I Wake,” crackles with noir attitude (“Everybody’s somebody’s fool,” says O’Hara). Hayworth, the perfect femme fatale, looks contemporary and sexy whether in her chic nautical garb or the filigree hat she wears in the courtroom.

Welles had to endure tremendous interference from Columbia Pictures execs, particularly studio chief Harry Cohn. Though the film was shot in 1947, Cohn delayed the release until 1948 in order to “fix” it. Welles’ original 155-minute cut was chopped to 87. Cohn also insisted that the movie have more closeups of Hayworth and that Welles film a scene of her singing. Welles was displeased with the score by the studio-appointed composer who disregarded Welles’ guidelines for the music; the mirror scene, for example, was to be unscored to heighten the sense of terror.

“The Lady from Shanghai” did not do well in the U.S. upon its release, though it was admired in France. Welles’ decision to have Hayworth cut her long red hair and bleach it blonde caused a controversy, and many in Hollywood believed it contributed to the film’s poor box-office returns. Watch this film for its serpentine plot twists, stunning images and as a testament to the fact that you should never underestimate the power of a good-hair day.

“The Lady from Shanghai” plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

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Film noir giants Ray, Welles, Wilder, Coppola highlighted at TCM Classic Film Festival 2014

The fifth annual TCM Classic Film Festival opens Thursday night with “Oklahoma” (in which femme fatale Gloria Grahame forays into the musical genre) and runs through Sunday.

The central theme of this year’s festival is Family in the Movies: The Ties that Bind. In keeping with this theme, organizers say, the fest will showcase on-screen clans of all types – big and small, happy and imperfect, musical and dramatic. Additionally, the festival will spotlight Hollywood’s first families and dynasties and will explore the kinship that connects close-knit groups of professionals behind the camera.

Johnny Guitar posterWe at FNB are excited about the film-noir slate: “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” “Johnny Guitar,” “The Thin Man,” “Touch of Evil,” “Double Indemnity,” “The Godfather II,” “The Naked City,” “Freaks” and “The Lady From Shanghai.” Also not to be missed: The Film Noir Foundation’s czar of noir Eddie Muller will interview neo-noir master director William Friedkin. These are just a few highlights – the fest is packed with cinematic treats and cool events.

Meanwhile, TCM came up with a terrific way to celebrate the network’s 20th birthday: the free (yes, free!) TCM Movie Locations Tour, running in Los Angeles. Created in Partnership with Starline Tours, the nifty bus rides started last month and will run through April 14, overlapping with the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival.

The tours use comfy new buses with stadium-style seating, skylight windows and a 65”-inch HDTV to show movie clips and commentary from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. (There’s also a Starline tour guide onboard.)

Featured sites include Echo Park (“Chinatown”), the 2nd Street Tunnel (“Blade Runner,” “The Terminator”), Bryson Apartments (“Double Indemnity,” “The Grifters”) and the Gilmore Gas Station (“L.A. Story”), the Bradbury Building (“Blade Runner,” “The Artist”) and Union Station (“The Way We Were,” “Silver Streak”).

This marks TCM’s second sightseeing bus tour. Last August, the network launched the “TCM Classic Film Tour” in New York.

We are told the Los Angeles trips are sold out but it’s possible the schedule will be expanded. Check here for more info: www.tcm.com/20. The FNB team attended the press trip last month and even as Los Angeles residents we were mightily impressed at what we saw and what we learned. Here are a few shots we snapped along the way:

TCM bus 1

The TCM bus is cool and breezy.

bus 2

Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue

The Bryson apartments, home to Walter Neff in "Double Indemnity."

The Bryson apartments, home to Walter Neff in “Double Indemnity.”

The Bradbury building,  304 Broadway, was built in 1893.

The Bradbury building, 304 Broadway, was built in 1893.

Los Angeles city hall, downtown

Los Angeles city hall, downtown

Union Station

Union Station

The Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue

The Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue

Formosa Cafe was and is a popular hangout. It was founded in 1925 by prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein.

Formosa Cafe, founded in 1925 by prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein, was and is a popular hangout.

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The Noir File: Superb sizzle in ‘The Lady from Shanghai’

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

Stars Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles were married from 1943 to 1948.

Stars Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles were married from 1943 to 1948.

The Lady from Shanghai  (1948, Orson Welles). Sunday, Dec. 29. 12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.). With Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and Everett Sloane.

“Citizen Kane” is hallowed cinematic ground, I know, but my favorite Orson Welles film is “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948), which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, playing opposite his real-life wife Rita Hayworth, one of the most popular entertainers of the 1940s.

In “The Lady from Shanghai” Welles plays Michael O’Hara, an Irish merchant seaman, in between ships in New York. By chance, or so he thinks, he meets the wily blonde operator Elsa Bannister (Hayworth) and saves her from being mugged in the park.

Elsa invites Michael to join her as she sets sail for Acapulco. The boat belongs to her husband, a wizened, creepy criminal lawyer named Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane), and he’ll be on the trip too. So will his partner, the moon-faced and sinister George Grisby (Glenn Anders). O’Hara agrees regardless. “Once I’d seen her,” he says, “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”

Read the full FNB review here.

Friday, Dec. 27

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Across the Pacific” (1942, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet. Reviewed in FNB on June 6, 2012.

4 p.m. (1 p.m.): “We Were Strangers” (1949, John Huston). Intrigue and rebellion, long before Castro, in ’40s Cuba. With John Garfield, Jennifer Jones, Gilbert Roland and Pedro Armendariz. Co-scripted by Huston and  Peter Viertel (who later dissed his boss in the tell-all novel (about the shooting of “The African Queeen,”  “White Hunter, Black Heart”).

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “Out of the Past” (1947, Jacques Tourneur). With Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas.

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Klute” (1971, Alan Pakula). Jane Fonda as a brainy hooker (her first Oscar-winning performance) being pursued by a psycho killer. Donald Sutherland plays Klute, the cop who tries to help and save her. A classy, first-class neo-noir.

Saturday, Dec. 28

Boyer drives Bergman nuts in "Gaslight."

Boyer drives Bergman nuts in “Gaslight.”

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Gaslight” (1944, George Cukor). With Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotton and Angela Lansbury. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 25, 2012.

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “Suspicion” (1941, Alfred Hitchcock). With Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine and Nigel Bruce. Reviewed in FNB on Sept. 21, 2012.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945, John M. Stahl). With Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and Vincent Price. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sunday, Dec. 29

12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “The Lady from Shanghai.“  See Pick of the Week.

Monday, Dec. 30

1:15 a.m. (10:15 p.m.): “The Loved One” (1965, Tony Richardson). Novelist Evelyn Waugh’s (“Brideshead Revisited”) delicious dark comedy about a posh Los Angeles pet cemetery (modeled on Forest Lawn) and the vagaries and deadly eccentricities of the British community in Hollywood, — turned into a Strangelovian satire/farce by director Tony Richardson and screenwriter Terry Southern. One of the campiest casts imaginable is headed by Robert Morse as the Candidesque protagonist, and includes Rod Steiger, Jonathan Winters, Tab Hunter, Robert Morley and Liberace.

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The Noir File: Monroe, Welles, Heflin and more

By Michael Wilmington

A noir-lover’s guide to classic film noir on cable TV. All the movies listed below are from the current schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

CO-PICKS OF THE WEEK: “The Asphalt Jungle” and “The Lady from Shanghai”

“The Asphalt Jungle” has a near-perfect cast.

The Asphalt Jungle
(1950, John Huston)
Saturday, Aug. 4. at 6 a.m. (3 a.m.): Huston’s classic heist movie, scripted by Ben Maddow from W. R. Burnett’s novel, has a near-perfect cast: Sterling Hayden (the muscle), Jean Hagen (the moll), Sam Jaffe (the brains), James Whitmore (the lookout), Anthony Caruso (the safe man), Marc Lawrence (the backer), Brad Dexter (the torpedo), John McIntire (the cop), Louis Calhern (the double-crosser) and Marilyn Monroe (the mistress). One of Jean-Pierre Melville’s three favorite films.

The Lady from Shanghai” (1948, Orson Welles)Wednesday, Aug. 8. at 10:45 a.m. (7:45 a.m.): Adventurer/sailor Welles gingerly woos a very blonde Rita Hayworth, wife of the wealthy, evil Frisco lawyer Everett Sloane, and victim of Glenn Anders as the very weird George Grisby. A flop in its day, now considered one of the greatest noirs and a Welles masterpiece. The highlights include an amazingly crooked trial scene and the wild chase and shoot-out in a hall of mirrors.

Richard Allan plays Marilyn’s lover in “Niagara.”

Sat., Aug. 4: Marilyn Monroe Day

8 a.m. (5 a.m.): “Clash by Night” (1952, Fritz Lang) Lang’s cool, underrated adaptation of Clifford Odets’ smoldering play. With Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas and Monroe.

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “Niagara” (1953, Henry Hathaway) One of Monroe’s sexiest roles was as the faithless wife of tormented Joseph Cotten, the two 0f them trapped together in a cabin at Niagara Falls. Jean Peters is the good wife next-door.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Some Like It Hot” (1959, Billy Wilder) Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, two dance-band musicians in drag, flee the Chicago mob and George Raft after witnessing The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre; Monroe is waiting for them aboard the Miami train. Only part film noir – the rest is gangster movie parody and screwball comedy – but noir can be proud to claim even a portion of the greatest American sound comedy. [Read more…]

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On the radar: Revel in noir at the Aero, Egyptian and Lacma

There’s so much to see on the big screen this month in Los Angeles. See you at the movies!
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AT THE AERO THEATRE
1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; shows start at 7:30 p.m.
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Saturday, March 3: A sneak preview of the thriller/horror flick “Silent House” starring Elizabeth Olsen followed by 2003’s “Open Water,” a nerve-wracking story about a couple left stranded in the Caribbean after a day of scuba diving. There will be a discussion between films with co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau.

Farley Granger and Robert Walker in "Strangers on a Train"

Wednesday, March 7: One of my all-time favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, “Strangers on a Train” (1951) stars Robert Walker as a psycho playboy intent on committing a double murder with tennis champ Farley Granger. As Hitch shows us in the opening shot, never underestimate the importance of footwear.
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Wednesday, March 14: Another Hitchcock work that draws on his lifelong love of trains, “The Lady Vanishes” from 1938 takes place on a train en route from the fictional country of Bandrika to Western Europe. Passengers Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave attempt to find a mysterious Miss Froy.
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Thursday, March 15: In “The Night of the Hunter” (1955, Charles Laughton) the great Robert Mitchum gives an unforgettable performance as a warped preacher with a knack for seducing trusting souls. Also starring Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. At 6:30 p.m., author Preston Neal Jones will sign his book “Heaven and Hell to Play With: The Filming of The Night of the Hunter.”
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Laura Harring, director David Lynch and Naomi Watts of "Mulholland Dr."

Saturday, March 24: A top-notch double feature, starting with Billy Wilder’s masterpiece noir and scathing look at Hollywood, “Sunset Boulevard” (1950). William Holden, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim star in this must-see flick. Next up: Naomi Watts and Laura Harring lead the cast of David Lynch’s mesmerizing and surreal portrait of Tinseltown’s latent evil, “Mulholland Dr.” (2001).

Wednesday, March 28: Yet more Hitchcock! Joel McCrea plays reporter Johnny Jones, who encounters intrigue and danger in “Foreign Correspondent” from 1940.
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Thursday March 29: “The Manchurian Candidate,” starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, celebrates its 50th anniversary. Superb direction from John Frankenheimer.
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AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE
6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; shows start at 7:30 p.m. with multiple showings and one matinee for “The Snowtown Murders”

Alida Valli and Joseph Cotten in "The Third Man."

Wednesday, March 7: Carol Reed directs Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and Orson Welles in 1949’s “The Third Man,” one of the finest thrillers ever made. Don’t miss it!
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Wednesday, March 14: Orson Welles as auteur and actor. In “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948), an outstanding noir, he co-stars with Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane. In “Confidential Report” (1955), Welles plays a dad in deep denial about his murky past.
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Thursday, March 15-Sunday, March 18: Justin Kurzel makes his directorial debut with “The Snowtown Murders,” the story of Australia’s most infamous serial killer. Plays at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
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Wednesday, March 28: More brilliance from Orson Welles in this knock-out double feature. “Touch of Evil,” a tale of corruption, is widely considered the last great work of classic film noir. Its unbeatable cast: Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Mercedes McCambridge. “The Trial” (based on Franz Kafka’s novel about paranoia and conspiracy) also boasts amazing talent: Welles, Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider and Akim Tamiroff.
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AT LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8: As a tribute to Wim Wenders, “The American Friend,” a stand-out neo noir from 1977 is paired with 1982’s “Chambre 666,” a doc with A-list directors about the future of filmmaking.
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At 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9: Film noir is partly rooted in French Poetic Realism and these two examples of the genre make an excellent night at the movies. To start: Cinematic genius and master of poetic realism Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game” (1939) followed by Jacques Becker’s “Casque D’Or” (1952). Becker assisted Renoir on “Rules” and “Grand Illusion” (1937).
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Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck star in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" from 1944.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 13: Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity” (1944) is one of the defining films of the noir genre. Femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck lures insurance agent Fred MacMurray into committing murder for a big payoff. Edward G. Robinson shines as MacMurray’s boss and friend.
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At noon Saturday, March 24: Christian Marclay’s “The Clock,” winner of the Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Biennale, is a 24-hour single-channel montage constructed from thousands of moments of cinema and television history depicting the passage of time. Begins at noon Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday, March 25.
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At 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 27: Another prime example of classic film noir, Robert Siodmak’s “The Killers” put Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster on the track to super-stardom.
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‘Lady from Shanghai’ is richly surreal, haunting in its intensity

The Lady from Shanghai/1948/Columbia Pictures/87 min.

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles

“Citizen Kane” is hallowed cinematic ground, I know, but my favorite Orson Welles film is “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948), which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, playing opposite his real-life wife Rita Hayworth, one of the most popular entertainers of the 1940s.

In “The Lady from Shanghai” Welles plays Michael O’Hara, an Irish merchant seaman, in between ships in New York. By chance, or so he thinks, he meets the wily blonde operator Elsa Bannister (Hayworth) and saves her from being mugged in the park.

Elsa invites Michael to join her as she sets sail for Acapulco. The boat belongs to her husband, a wizened, creepy criminal lawyer named Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane), and he’ll be on the trip too. So will his partner, the moon-faced and sinister George Grisby (Glenn Anders). O’Hara agrees regardless. “Once I’d seen her,” he says, “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”

On their voyage (the yacht belonged to Errol Flynn), Elsa and Michael flirt every chance they get; Arthur gets touchy and calls her “Lovah,” in a most unloving way; Grisby is generally unpleasant. The tension builds, then breaks when they reach San Francisco. But not for long.

Grisby has a plan to cash in on an insurance policy by faking his own murder and bribes Michael to help him. Need I say the plan doesn’t quite work out as they’d hoped? This is film noir, you know.

“The Lady from Shanghai” is richly surreal and haunting in its intensity. Welles and cinematographer Charles Lawton Jr. use staggering angles and startling black shadow almost to the point of abstraction. Two of the most famous sequences are the aquarium and the funhouse hall of mirrors at the end. Of the latter, Time Out notes that “it stands as a brilliant expressionist metaphor for sexual unease and its accompanying loss of identity.”

The script, based on the Sherwood King novel “If I Die Before I Wake,” crackles with noir attitude (“Everybody’s somebody’s fool,” says O’Hara). Hayworth, the perfect femme fatale, looks contemporary and sexy whether in her chic nautical garb or the filigree hat she wears in the courtroom. [Read more…]

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‘The Lady from Shanghai’ quick hit

The Lady from Shanghai/1948/Columbia Pictures/87 min.

Irish sailor Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) knows from the start that it’s probably not going to work out well when Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth, Welles’ real-life wife) invites him to join her on a sailing trip with her husband and his business partner. “When I start out to make a fool of myself, there’s very little can stop me,” says O’Hara. The plot is downright acrobatic; the visuals are dazzling. Welles directed, wrote and produced.

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Noir greats at LACMA; a Nicholson noir night at the Aero

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a particularly good lineup of classic and neo noirs this month.

“Rear Window” (1954) 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 12

“Pickpocket” (1959) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16

“Bay of Angels” (1963) 9 p.m. Saturday, July 16

“The Letter” (1940) 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 19

“The Honeymoon Killers” (1970) 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21

Bette Davis stars in "The Letter" by director William Wyler.

“In a Lonely Place” (1950) 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 22

“The Long Goodbye”(1973) 9:15 p.m. Friday, July 22

“Mulholland Dr.” (2001) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23

“The Lady from Shanghai” (1948) 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 29

“The Conformist” (1971) 9:10 p.m. Friday, July 29

Tickets range from $2 for the matinees to $10 for evening double features ($5 for one film only). Discounts for LACMA members and seniors. For tickets, call 323-857-6010 or visit the web site; there is a $2 charge to buy online. For synopses of the movies, see LACMA’s listings. LACMA is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036.

Additionally, the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica is running a “Jack Nicholson Noir” double bill on Saturday, July 23, starting at 7:30. The films are Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” and “The Two Jakes,” which Nicholson directed. The Aero Theatre is at 1328 Montana Ave. General admission is $11; members pay $7. Visit the American Cinematheque for the complete schedule.

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