Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Noir City: The 17th Annual Film Noir Festival Comes to Hollywood

Bogart, Rarities Kick Off Latest
Edition of Venerable LA Noir Fest
Coming to the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood April 3-19, 2015

The American Cinematheque, in collaboration with the Film Noir Foundation, will once again April present the hugely popular NOIR CITY film festival, a three-week celebration of Hollywood's darkest, most daring — and most durable — cinematic movement. This year marks the 17th anniversary of the collaboration between the Cinematheque and writer-impresario Eddie Muller, who since the festival’s inception has become a prominent figure in film preservation. In addition to paying tribute to the genre’s established artists and films, Muller’s Film Noir Foundation (FNF) has rescued numerous titles from obscurity and funded their restoration. Its two most recent reclamations, Woman on the Run and The Guilty, will be featured in this year's festival, which runs April 3 – 19 at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard (6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028).

The festival kicks off with an Opening Night reception sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which funded the Woman on the Run restoration through its Charitable Trust. It was feared the only existing print of the film had been lost in a 2008 fire. The FNF united the efforts of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute, and HFPA to ensure its resurrection. The 1950 film, starring Ann Sheridan, screens April 3 on a double bill with another Sheridan starrer, The Unfaithful (1947).

These obscure gems are followed on Saturday night by a tribute to the genre's most revered star—Humphrey Bogart. Stephen Bogart, son of Hollywood legends Bogart and Lauren Bacall, will engage in a rare interview following a screening of his parents' noir classic, Dark Passage. He also will introduce writer-director Steve Anderson’s new noir, This Last Lonely Place, the initial offering from revived Santana Productions, the independent production company created by Humphrey Bogart in the late 1940s. Capping off the evening, the Bogart Estate hosts a cocktail reception celebrating the Los Angeles debut of its new product, Bogart’s Gin.

NOIR CITY continues over the following weeks with programs dedicated to mainstays of the genre such as director Jacques Tourneur, writers Cornell Woolrich and Dorothy B. Hughes, the great Barbara Stanwyck, British films by exiled blacklist directors Edward Dmytryk and Joseph Losey, and the Los Angeles premiere of three virtually unknown Argentinean films noir from the early 1950s—subtitled in English for the first time and presented in new prints funded by the Film Noir Foundation. These include El Vampiro Negro (The Black Vampire), a 1953 feminist reworking of Fritz Lang's classic M, and No Abras Nunca esa Puerta (Never Open That Door), an anthology of short stories by American suspense master Cornell Woolrich. The evening screenings, hosted by Muller or his FNF colleague Alan K. Rode, often feature surprise special guests.

In what's become a tradition, the festival's closing weekend will feature a full-scale film noir nightclub (Saturday, April 18) with live big band music, casino, dancing— as well as a centerpiece screening of another Woolrich adaptation, The Guilty, an obscure 1947 Monogram B-film restored in all its shadowy luster by the FNF and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

"The Film Noir Foundation has accomplished tremendous things in recent years,” said Muller. “Not only restoring movies, but simply continuing to screen 35mm black and white classics for a new generation, helping to foster and maintain a passion for cinema. And it’s always a treat to come back to the Egyptian each year—which, for me, is where this all began.” 

The festival boasts 26 films noir over 12 nights. For a complete schedule see the Egyptian Theatre's website. Tickets are sold on Fandango. Tickets to the Noir City Party on April 18, 2015 are available here.

The American Cinematheque also runs a dedicated Film Noir Facebook page where the discussion is film noir all the time.