Take a worldwide tour through sordid back alleys and danger-filled shadows in the 22nd Annual Noir City Hollywood, kicking off Friday at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre and running through March 15. Czar of Noir Eddie Muller and Film Noir Foundation Treasurer Alan K. Rode will guide audiences through the dark and dangerous byways of the seven deadly sins.
The festival takes an unusual detour through foreign intrigue and despair, visiting such diverse international locales as Buenos Aires, Berlin, Seoul, the British Isles, Tokyo, Sweden, and Mexico City. Outstanding Argentine noirs are scheduled, including “The Beast Must Die” (1952), The Black Vampire” (1953), and “Hardly a Criminal” (1949), along with diverse German thrillers “M” (1931), “The Devil Strikes at Night” (1957), and the 1961 “Black Gravel.” The schedule also features 1961 the South Korean film “The Housemaid,” the 1964 Japanese noir “Pale Flower,” the 1950 Swedish film “Girl With Hyacinths,” and the 1949 Mexican film “In the Palm Of Your Hand.”
Also showing are several foreign films restored by the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film and TV Archive, including “The Beast Must Die” (1952), “The Black Vampire” (1953), “Hardly a Criminal” (1949), “The Guilty” (1947), “High Tide” (1947), “The Prowler” (1951), and “Try and Get Me” (1951).
For the first time, Noir City expands beyond the Egyptian for a screening Monday, March 9, at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre and a screening Tuesday, March 10, at the Hollywood Legion Theatre at Post 43. The sold-out March 9 program includes a screening of the 1987 neo noir “House of Games,” followed by a discussion between Muller and director/screenwriter David Mamet, along with a surprise second feature. A double feature of military noir films “Act of Violence” (1946) and “Somewhere in the Night” (1946) screens March 10 at the Post 43 Theatre on Highland Avenue.
Special guests will appear before some of the films, including Victoria Mature, the daughter of leading man Victor Mature. She will introduce the 1957 British film “The Long Haul” (1957), which stars her father in a tale of truck drivers in post-war Great Britain.
Tonight’s kickoff features a reception between “The Beast Must Die” and the 1946 classic “Gilda,” starring a sultry, torch-singing Rita Hayworth.
Saturday, March 7 will feature three films played back to back: Fritz Lang’s 1931 German thriller “M,” starring the unforgettable Peter Lorre; followed by Joseph Losey’s 1951 American remake shot mostly in the streets of Los Angeles’ old Bunker Hill; and finally the 1953 stunning Argentine reimagining of the story, “The Black Vampire.”
Each Sunday features matinee and evening double features. Sunday, March 8’s matinee includes the 1957 West German film “The Devil Strikes at Night,” the work of great noir director Robert Siodmak after his return to Germany. A tense police thriller based on the true story of murderer Bruno Ludke, it also explores how people struggled to maintain their integrity and morality while dealing with the corruption and evil of the Reich. Following after is one of Siodmak’s first Hollywood noirs, the 1942 “Fly-By-Night.”
That evening features a double feature of people finding themselves in unexpected nightmares. “The Housemaid” (1960), one of the greatest South Korean films, inspired Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning film “Parasite.” The hardworking family, the Kims, move into a larger home and need help with chores. Hiring a young woman, the Kims find their lives turned into a claustrophobic, raging nightmare. In the 1945 film “My Name Is Julia Ross,” the unemployed Nina Foch gets her dream job, waking up to discover she’s married to a man with a scheming mother-in-law, neither of whom she knows.
The March 14 program includes a five-film marathon. The 1947 noir classic “Out of the Past” begins the day, followed by four films restored by the Film Noir Foundation: two Monogram low-budget thrillers “The Guilty” (1947) and “High Tide” (1947), Joseph Losey’s 1951 “The Prowler,” featuring a skewered view of the American Dream, and the 1951 Paramount film “Try and Get Me,” inspired by the true and shocking story of a kidnapping and murder in 1934 San Jose.
The festival concludes March 15 with matinee and evening double features. The matinee examines painters and their evocative portraits of haunting but dead women. The 1948 “Portrait of Jennie” features painter Joseph Cotten falling for a young woman (Jennifer Jones) he meets in Central Park, who mysteriously grows older over months. In the suspenseful 1950 Swedish film “Girl With Hyacinths,” a couple are left all the possessions of Dagmar Brink after she commits suicide, including her enigmatic portrait, leading the husband to investigate why she killed herself.
The evening program riffs on the occult and charlatans. The 1948 “The Spiritualist” features a charismatic but phony medium (Turham Bey), who convinces a gullible woman (Lynn Bari) that he can communicate with her late husband. In a similar vein, the 1949 Mexican film “In the Palm of Your Hand” features a shifty fortune-telling astrologer who seduces a millionaire’s widow to bilk her out of the fortune, only to discover she isn’t all she seems.
Dark, dangerous, and full of devilish delights, Noir City Hollywood promises a trip through the macabre shadows of life.