The evening began with a tango dance on the Castro Stage, followed by Eddie introducing Miss Noir City, then talking about how he discovered the film, then introducing a man who helped finance the restoration, then telling us again how lucky we were to be seeing the film.
All of this reminded me of how much I prefer to watch movies at home, where I am not cheek to jowl with people eating and can start watching the movie when I prefer, without arriving an hour before it starts and then sitting through a bunch of fol-de-rol.
When I am in charge, the seating will be reserved and the movies will start on time.
The film itself was full of great shadows and angles, trains, bars, nightclubs, wonderfully dressed beautiful women, and a few jolts.
The plot strained credibility (the first reaction to your business partner lying is to kill him? a person goes missing and no effort at all is made to locate him?), but I loved seeing the old newsroom with the hot lead typesetting machines and pneumatic tube "email" system, the double decker glass bowl coffee maker, and the men wearing jackets and ties in spite of the heat.
It being in a foreign language diminished, for me, my favorite element of noir - the snappy dialogue.
Had I discovered this film as Eddie did, I don't think my first reaction would have been to make it a restoration priority.
My test for a truly great film is whether I want to tell people I know that they must see it. For me, The Bitter Stems was enjoyable, but did not pass this test.