Various sources confirmed a head count between 500-600 at the 7:30 screening of RIDE THE PINK HORSE, which captivated the audience thanks to the indelible performances of Robert Montgomery, Thomas Gomez, Andrea King, Art Smith, Wanda Hendrix, and Fred Clark. Viewers were again startled by the virtuoso merry-go-round sequence where the expressions of the children change from joy to horror as the two thugs viciously beat Gomez in an attempt to locate Montgomery (who's been stashed on the merry-go-round after barely surviving an ambush orchestrated by Andrea King).
The second feature, SO DARK THE NIGHT, features atmospheric photography from Burnett Guffey and an earnest, yearning performance from character actor Steven Geray (stretched into the lead role) but ultimately sinks due to a lack of story. The 35mm print source was rough in the first reel and a half but was noticeably better from that point, with many of Guffey and director Joseph H. Lewis' visual set-pieces standing out despite the plodding narrative they were forced to serve.
Elliot took the stage in front of the 7:30 screening, marveled at the turnout, and was his usual charming self in his all-too-brief bask in the spotlight. The large crowd gave him a heartfelt ovation.
Armchair analysts on-scene noted the absence of the "dress-up" crowd that frequents the January NC festival, which provided a clue as to nature of the audience split for that event.
The televised debate of Republican presidential candidates, scheduled for 6:00 pm PDT, did not seem to affect attendance, though a number of individuals admitted that they'd TIVO'ed the Fox news telecast for viewing upon returning home.
All in all, an auspicious Thursday night at the venerable, still vibrant Castro, with four more Thursdays to look forward to as Elliot serves up some scintillating "Hot Summer Noir."