Last Thursday saw the curtain close on Film Forum's six-week long festival of bullets and broads. Some 70 film noir undercards, mostly from the genre's heyday of the 40s and 50s, were screened in all their black and white glory. Judging by the near sell-out crowds on most of the nights I attended, the fest was a huge success. (There were reportedly some die-hard noir aficionados who took in every single film) The biggest discovery of the fest was The Sleeping City, a surgically sharp little thriller about a supposedly clean and tidy city hospital that has a river of black noir sludge running beneath it. Starring noir staples Richard Conte and Coleen Gray, it proved to be a runaway audience favorite. Another winner was 1954's Pushover, with Kim Novak in her debut role as a frosty blonde moll who Fred MacMurray salivates over like sexual flubber. A little chase film called Woman on the Run that uses the streets of San Francisco to great effect also gained many new fans. I'd happily cough up for a DVD edition of any of these titles.
As a movie theater, Film Forum has positive attributes (better movie screens than the IFC, a hot chick who mans the popcorn machine) and negative ones (no drink holders on the seats, a pacifist philosophy with regards to cell-phone abusers, [Not to mention major issues with temperature control -- why is it ALWAYS freezing in there? -Ed.]) but for a festival like this, it's a perfect venue. And who says this needs to be an isolated event? There's a whole universe of B-grade film noir out there. On the other hand, if the powers that be want to continue the B-festival vibe but take it in a different direction, I suggest that a B-Western festival would hit the spot. Shalako, anyone?
For those who missed Cinematical's periodic coverage of the fest, here is your comprehensive link list to our reviews: Thunder Road; The Lineup; Murder by Contract; Phantom Lady; The Sleeping City; Woman on the Run; The Suspect; Pushover; The Brothers Rico.