First (and we defer to level of exposure here...) is another installment of NOIR CITY XMAS, which rolls out on Wednesday, December 20. The event is primarily a publicity gimmick for revealing the upcoming NC/SF schedule, which will be of especial interest as it has already been leaked that the films selected will adhere to the 1941-53 time frame, in contrast to what's been the case in the past couple of years.
We are still trying to figure out how MANHANDLED (1949) fits into the Xmas theme, but a light-hearted "noir parody" might be just the thing for the fedora-ites at this time of year. (FNF's publicity bypasses that, focusing instead on the film's ultra-rare status.) Dan Duryea easily outshines the rest of the material in what is the type of movie that the "Dollar Bills" (Messrs. Pine and Thomas) were most known for...THE LAWLESS it ain't.
It's followed by BOSTON BLACKIE GETS LAID (OK, that's not the real title...), a mercifully brief comedy-noir that has more "action" between Chet Morris and Richard Lane than any plot twists or romantic fireworks. It does have a Christmas component, so all the merry gentleman who keep track of such things can "God rest ye" on that score at least...
Second (and we buck Mr. Brown's contention that "first is first and second is nobody" on the basis of "Look what happened to HIM!") we have a true NOIR NOEL occurring a week earlier (Wednesday, December 13) at the Roxie, when MCP will feature two terrific French Christmas noirs, WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS? aka L'ASSASSINAT DU PERE NOEL (1941) and PARIS PICKUP aka LE MONTE-CHARGE (1962). Two more different depictions of Christmas in France could not be found, and viewers will really be struck by the contrasts in time and location encompassed by these films.
Harry Baur would soon lose his life as a result of the Nazis, but he's in top form in WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS?, which is the first of many "provincial gothic" films created in France during the Occupation.
Robert Hossein, well known to FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT attendees, is the deadpan anchor for PARIS PICKUP, a cautionary tale about an ex-con who unwittingly stumbles into an elaborate scheme perpetrated by a beautiful woman (Lea Massari) who's counting on "Christmas cheer" and the age-old proclivities of the male sex to come to her aid.
We'll be happy if half the folks who go to NC XMAS make it to the Roxie for NOIR NOEL, as that number would totally fill up our more modest digs. And we can tell you that the NOIR NOEL event won't be back again for some time, as there just aren't enough "Xmas noirs" to make a truly quality program viable. That's an issue which is also relevant for NC XMAS, as this year's lineup makes clear.