The Films

 

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ROADHOUSE | 1948

20th Century-Fox. 95 min.

Dir. Jean Negulesco

We kick off the year’s NOIR CITY festival with a star-powered square-off between two film noir icons: saucy Ida Lupino and psychotic Richard Widmark. Sparks fly when down-on-her-heels big city chanteuse Lily Stevens (Lupino) gets a job crooning at Jefty’s, a rural roadhouse run by a petulant rich boy (Widmark). When she throws him over for his boyhood chum Pete (Cornel Wilde), the joint really starts jumping. Enjoy a full-on noir immersion in vintage mid-century American style.

 

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NIGHT AND THE CITY| 1950

20th Century–Fox. 96 min.

Dir. Jules Dassin

Richard Widmark returns in what is arguably the most baroque and bleakest film noir of them all. As maniacal hustler Harry Fabian, a small man with big plans to control wrestling in London, Widmark pulls out all the stops in his portrayal of one man’s harrowing descent into hell. Dassin’s direction is the epitome of noir style, turning the clubs and alleyways of London into the cinematic equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Featuring Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Herbert Lom, Francis X. Sullivan, and Mike Mazurki. An undisputed masterpiece.

 
 

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ABANDONED | 1949

Universal. 78 min.

Dir. Joseph M. Newman

Gale Storm plays a naïve young woman who’s come to Los Angeles in search of her missing sister. Shunned by the police, she’s assisted by an intrepid reporter (Dennis O’Keefe) who smells a story when he gets wind of an underground racket in black-market babies. Spiced by the uncredited “additional dialogue” of ace wisecracker William Bowers, the film is a shadowy trawl through old Los Angeles, featuring film noir favorites Raymond Burr and Mike Mazurki, and the screen debut of future star Jeff Chandler.

 

 

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THE UNDERWORLD STORY | 1950

New 35mm FNF Preservation!

United Artists / Warner Bros. 90 min.

Dir. Cy Endfield

Another unjustly neglected noir by director Cy Endfield (Try and Get Me!), in which the always- entertaining Dan Duryea plays a cynical reporter who digs dangerously close to a corrupt publisher’s family secrets. Craig Rice’s terrific story features a powerful subplot about the ingrained racism in the American upper class. With dazzling cinematography by the great Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter). New 35mm print courtesy of the Film Noir Foundation collection at UCLA Film & Television Archive.

 
 

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WOMAN ON THE RUN | 1950

New FNF 35mm Restoration!

Fidelity Pictures. 77 min.

Dir. Norman Foster

Witness the resurrection of one of great lost noir films! San Franciscan Frank Johnson disappears after witnessing a gangland killing. Police think his wife Eleanor (Ann Sheridan) will lead them to her husband, but she never wants to see him again. Enter newspaperman Danny Leggett (Dennis O’Keefe), who charms Mrs. Johnson with stunning and poignant results. Gorgeously restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive, with grant funding provided to the Film Noir Foundation through the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust.

 

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KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL | 1952

United Artists. 99 min.

Dir. Phil Karlson

John Payne is an embittered WWII veteran who gets accidentally involved in an armored car robbery staged by a gang of anonymous cohorts, and orchestrated by a mysterious mastermind. Rather than trust the cops to acquit him, Payne decides to cut himself in on the action, masquerading as one of the crooks in a fateful square-up at a remote Mexican resort. A rogue’s gallery of pug-uglies, including Lee Van Cleef and Neville Brand, make this one of the most entertaining caper pictures ever. Featuring Preston Foster and the radiant Coleen Gray.

 
 

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THE GUILTY | 1947

New FNF 35mm Restoration!

Monogram. 71 min.

Dir. John Reinhardt

Two war buddies (Don Castle and Wally Cassel) fall for twin sisters (both played by Bonita Granville). When one sister turns up dead, the boys are dogged by a suspicious police inspector (Regis Toomey). Working with only several sets and virtually no budget, director Reinhardt and DP Henry Sharp evoke the dreadful, dead-of-night ambiance that was the special domain of prolific noir scribe Cornell Woolrich.

 

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NEVER OPEN THAT DOOR | 1952

(No abras nunca esa puerta)

Argentina. 85 min.

Scr. Alejandro Casona, from stories by Cornell Woolrich.
Dir. Carlos Hugo Christensen.

A pair of classic Woolrich short stories, “Somebody Is on the Phone” and “The Hummingbird Comes Home” are adapted in Buenos Aires with stunning, suspenseful results. Featuring camerawork by the great Pablo Tabernero, these two are every bit the equal of any U.S.-made Woolrich adaptations.

 
 

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THE CHASE | 1946

35mm Restoration!

86 min.

Dir. Arthur Ripley

Based on the novel The Black Path of Fear, this hallucinatory Cornell Woolrich adaptation stars Robert Cummings as a drifter hired as a chauffeur by two Florida crooks (Steve Cochran and Peter Lorre). He falls for Cochran’s dishy wife (Michele Morgan) with dire, unpredictable results. As close to David Lynch-like as movies got in the 1940s. 35mm restored print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.

 

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SORRY, WRONG NUMBER | 1948

Paramount. 89 min.

Dir. Anatole Litvak

Barbara Stanwyck gives a tour de force performance (Oscar-nominated) as a bedridden woman who, through crossed phone wires, overhears a murder being planned. This engrossing extension of Lucille Fletcher’s legendary 22-minute radio drama is pure noir, tracking an ill-fated romance that spirals into deceit, despair, and death. Featuring Burt Lancaster in one of his earliest roles, mesmerizing direction by Anatole Litvak, and richly atmospheric camerawork by the great Sol Polito. Duly famous, but still underrated!