Here's a reward for making it through these dang holidays: the 5th annual Noir City fest in San Francisco at the venerable Castro Theater, Jan 26-Feb 4. Programmer Anita Monga and author/host Eddie Muller, founder of the non-profit Film Noir Foundation, always manage to dig up alley-cat cinema that hasn't been overexposed by repeat viewing. Of the 20 films on tap this year, 12 have never been on DVD or VHS. This year's guest is Marsha Hunt, who turns up Jan 26. The actress is best remembered as the good girl in 1948's Raw Deal, which is being revived for her appearance. It ought to be against the law to show John Alton's photography on home theater systems anyway, and this time Raw Deal is turning up with a 35mm print. (There's also a new 35mm print of cinematographer Alton's symphony in black and white The Big Combo, Feb 2.) The second half of the Hunt double-bill is a 74 minute long 1942 rarity called Kid Glove Killer. It's the debut of Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). Kid Glove Killer's writer John C. Higgins, a G-Man turned scripter, used his inside knowledge to craft this story of a special prosecutor who happens to be a mole for the underworld. That stocky actor Van Heflin, who looked a bit like an Irish tiki statue, has the good-guy role. It all was a prelude for a later Heflin-Zinnemann collaboration Act of Violence, which turned up at 2003's Noir City -- a bruising, startling noir about post-war guilt that certainly made the new Home of the Brave looks even more sedate than it is already. Among the other offerings: I Walk Alone, a seemingly lost film pitting Kirk Douglas against Burt Lancaster. And -- even more intimidating that Kirk & Burt -- Joan Crawford in a double bill titled: "Crawford at her Craziest". Here, the macha actress puts her hugely-padded shoulder to the wheel in The Damned Don't Cry and Possessed, going nuts from thwarted love. Take it from a former San Franciscan: The Castro Theater is the best place in the world to watch Joan Crawford claw up the scenery.
categories Cinematical