NC 16: What Could Happen (first in a series...)
Posted by Don Malcolm on 11/15/2017, 3:53 pm
So, some of you out there in the dark may be wondering about the upcoming NC 16 and what will be in it (schedule to be released on 12/20).
Here, of course, some of us enjoy the speculation and (at least one of us!) has a (sometimes tiresome) habit of posting ideas and opinions about the programming possibilities and choices made by "Fast" Eddie (aka "Not My Czar of Noir"--sorry, couldn't resist!).
As we know, the announcements thus far about the NC 16 lineup are only as follows:
--The festival will focus on the years 1941-53.
--They will screen a restored copy of THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF, the 1950 noir with Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt and John Dall.
And that, fight fans, is it. We are on our own in terms of trying to fill in the gaps of what is likely to be a 24-26 film lineup.
What are the possibilities? How might this be structured? Here are some categories:
--Year by year double features. There are 13 years involved, and that could fit into the 10-day festival schedule.
--Domestic or foreign? We would bet on domestic, since the word is that there was blowback from attendees who found #14 too overwrought and #15 too far afield from the classic era (just one-fourth of the films were in the 1941-53 time frame).
It would be great if Eddie were to delve into the recesses of French noir, but he's likelier to pick films that are "approved" by those folks who've dictated what are the so-called "masterpieces," which will not leave him much to choose from in the 1941-53 time frame. He might try to put in one double bill, using a film such as... (heh, heh--no, probably best to let him do his own research, n'est-ce pas?)
More likely a British double bill in the time frame, as there are still some good titles to show. He might even drop in ODD MAN OUT, even though we screened it at the Roxie last May. It probably won't matter to his audience, as only a portion of it overlaps to those more adventurous shows.
But there is also a good chance that this will be a grand return to American noir, at a time when we need domestic noir to, well, make America great again. Even though we're screening FORCE OF EVIL in our AGITPROP! series at the Roxie in December, I hope Eddie screens it, along with CROSSFIRE and THE LAWLESS and NO WAY OUT and THE UNDERWORLD STORY (and several other "socially conscious" noirs that he's never shown at NC), but I don't think any of us should hold our breaths for that.
--Highlights by star, director, or other "favored category." This would provide a lot more programming flexibility, and the results would produce more natural fits in terms of double bills.
--Reprising classics or showing films that haven't been shown? NC has already had a good bit of repeat performances (heck, that even applies to REPEAT PERFORMANCE!). It's not egregious in nature, save for screening CRACK-UP three times (?); a look at the NC screening list indicates that there are ~50 top-notch noirs screened over the first six years that have yet to be repeated.
Eddie's on record of late saying that it makes sense to reprise the classics, because he's been at it for twenty years and there's new blood out there who haven't seen those films on the big screen He specifically referenced OUT OF THE PAST, which hasn't been in the NC lineup since #4 in 2006. Is it time?
There will probably be a balance between reprised films and first-time screenings. I wouldn't expect to see two previously screened films in the same double bill (though I'm still rooting for a reprise of DESERT FURY/LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, one of the most legendary evenings in NC history).
OK, with all that, here's a first cut at a version of NC 16 using the year-by-year model. This produces a schedule with 21 new films and just five re-runs (sans OOTP, BTW). As you can see, there are some big-name films on this list (and a goodly number that Elliot Lavine pioneered at the Roxie at various points during his illustrious career there):
1941: A Woman’s Face/I Wake Up Screaming
1942: This Gun For Hire/Crossroads
1943: The Fallen Sparrow/The Seventh Victim
1944: When Strangers Marry/Strangers in the Night
1946: The Big Sleep/Black Angel
1947: Johnny O’Clock/T-Men
1948: Call Northside 777/The Street With No Name
1949: The Crooked Way/Act of Violence
1950: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye/The Man Who Cheated Himself
1951: Storm Warning/Under the Gun
1952: The Turning Point/The Narrow Margin
1953: The Glass Wall/The Blue Gardenia
--Underlined films are the ones that have been screened previously at NC.
I think we can see that this schedule has the problem of being a bit soft in terms of weekend "hooks" for the audience (though, really, who knows if that's even necessary at this point for NC?). You might have to present these out of chronological order to create strong weekend nights.
Interesting to note that THE BIG SLEEP has never screened at NC. Could be because it's been shown a lot (though not as often as VERTIGO, which the Bitter One rightly pointed out as being a permanent impediment to it making the NC lineup).
At any rate, we'll keep this list handy, as it has a lot of not-yet-showns, and we'll see how many of them make the cut when the schedule is announced.
All of you out there in the dark are encouraged to chime in with your own ideas...let's use the next month to kick this around--just for fun!
NC 16: What Could Happen (second in a series...)
Posted by Don Malcolm on 11/17/2017, 8:34 pm
Not quite ready to pursue the themes and favorites scenario for building the NC 16 lineup (remember: the time constraints are 1941-53, and THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF will be screened as the featured restoration), so...we will take a little detour into another unlikely but interesting slice-up of noir that might prove valuable in ways that add fresh perspectives to our speculations about what will be on the Castro screen in late January.
Another organizing approach not considered in the first installment is to program the series by picking noirs made at a particular studio. This comes into play because Eddie has often referred to studios and the specific wrinkles they impose on film noir.
For this exercise (which we frankly don't think has much of a probability of happening...) we will zero in on one studio that everyone associates with noir--RKO. Eddie has called it "the house of noir" on more than one occasion.
We'll list 91 noirs produced or distributed by RKO over 1940-53 along with Val Lewton's films here, in order to a) develop some categories to examine and b) show which RKO noirs have/have not been screened at NC SF. Here goes:
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Stranger On The Third Floor
Other (marginal B, western, etc.):
Detective/hard-boiled: Lady Scarface
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Suspicion
Other (marginal B, western, etc.):
Spy/war: Journey Into Fear
Man/woman in peril/thriller:
Horror: Cat People
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): The Falcon Takes Over
Spy/war: The Fallen Sparrow, Escape to Danger, The Yellow Canary
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Seventh Victim
Horror: I Walked With A Zombie, The Leopard Man, The Ghost Ship
Other (marginal B, western, etc.):
Detective/hard-boiled: Murder, My Sweet
Spy/war: Hotel Reserve
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Experiment Perilous
Horror: Curse of the Cat People
Other (marginal B, western, etc.):
Detective/hard-boiled: Johnny Angel
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Brighton Strangler
Horror: Isle of the Dead, The Body Snatcher
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Two O'Clock Courage, Dick Tracy
Detective/hard-boiled: Deadline at Dawn, Crack-Up, Nocturne
Spy/war: The Stranger, Step by Step
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Locket, Notorious, The Spiral Staircase
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Criminal Court, San Quentin, Dick Tracy v. Cueball
Detective/hard-boiled: Born to Kill, Out of the Past, Crossfire, They Won't Believe Me, The Devil Thumbs A Ride
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Woman on the Beach, Desperate, The Long Night
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Dick Tracy's Dilemma, Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome
Detective/hard-boiled: Race Street, They Live By Night, Bodyguard
Spy/war: Berlin Express
Man/woman in peril/thriller:
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): The Velvet Touch, Mystery in Mexico, Station West, Blood on the Moon
Detective/hard-boiled: The Set-Up, The Threat, The Big Steal, A Dangerous Profession
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Window, A Woman's Secret, Strange Bargain
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): The Woman on Pier 13, Follow Me Quietly, Roughshod
Detective/hard-boiled: Armored Car Robbery, Where Danger Lives, Hunt the Man Down, The Tattooed Stranger, Gambling House
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Outrage, Destination Murder, The Secret Fury, Walk Softly, Stranger
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Born to Be Bad, Bunco Squad, The Capture, Double Deal
Detective/hard-boiled: Cry Danger, Roadblock, His Kind of Woman, The Racket
Spy/war: Tokyo File 212, Sealed Cargo, The Whip Hand
Man/woman in peril/thriller: The Company She Keeps
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): My Forbidden Past, On the Loose
Detective/hard-boiled: Macao, Angel Face, The Narrow Margin, The Las Vegas Story
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Sudden Fear, Beware My Lovely
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Clash By Night, Rancho Notorious
Detective/hard-boiled: The Hitch-Hiker
Man/woman in peril/thriller: Split Second, Second Chance
Other (marginal B, western, etc.): Count the Hours
Films screened in NC already are shown in bold type.
When we run the stats, they tell us two things. First, 36% of these films have been shown at NC SF (again, those in bold type). Second, hard-boiled/detective noirs only account for a plurality of those released by RKO from 1940-53: also 36%, with 26% being man/woman in peril films, 12% being spy/war noirs, and 27% being "marginal, B's, westerns, or other misfits."
The notable films from RKO that have yet be shown at NC SF are underlined in the above list. Just for sake of clarity, they are repeated here:
Stranger on the Third Floor
The Seventh Victim
The Fallen Sparrow
The Devil Thumbs A Ride
The Long Night
The Big Steal
Walk Softly, Stranger
His Kind of Woman
That's 15 films, with The Spiral Staircase on the fence. And there are four unscreened films with Mitchum (The Big Steal, His Kind of Woman, My Forbidden Past, The Racket)--too bad that we'll be past his centennial year when NC 16 rolls around. And Second Chance would make a fifth. What are the odds than none of those will make the cut, but that Out of the Past or Angel Face will? Stay tuned...
NC 16: What Could Happen (third in a series...)
Posted by Don Malcolm on 11/24/2017, 9:57 am
Hoping none of you are suffering too severely from what some like to call "turkey coma" and can follow along with this latest installment of "what will Eddie do?" per the upcoming NC16 festival.
In this scenario, we keep in mind that the only parameters we have are that the films will be from 1941 to 1953 and that THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF is one of them. Here we are still not ready to make any actual predictions of what the lineup will be; rather, we go back to our original "Noir Top 25" list and look at how recently they've been screened at NC SF. (While we've seen that Eddie will repeat films, he's been increasingly loath to do so in a short time frame--so the odds favor those films that haven't been screened in a long time.)
We expand the list to show the top 50 films ranked in that poll. Here is the list, from lowest to highest likelihood:
Criss Cross (2), The Asphalt Jungle (4), The Killing (8)
In A Lonely Place (13), Scarlet Street (21), The Dark Corner (39)
The Set-Up (19)
The Third Man (44)
Gun Crazy (6), Sunset Blvd. (25), Try and Get Me (37), The Chase (41)
The Maltese Falcon (7), Laura (25), Gilda (42)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (24), Pickup on South St. (35), Pitfall (43)
The Killers (5) Ace in the Hole (27), Sweet Smell of Success (49)
D.O.A. (9), Night and the City (14)
Raw Deal (16), The Big Combo (30)
Out of the Past (1), Nightmare Alley (12), The Narrow Margin (18), Strangers on a Train (31), Hollow Triumph (34)
Kiss Me Deadly (15), Murder, My Sweet (23), Act of Violence (42), He Walked By Night (46)
Double Indemnity (3), Detour (17), Strange Love of Martha Ivers (28), Mildred Pierce (29), Caged (33), Phantom Lady (50)
Born to Kill (22)
Touch of Evil (10), The Big Sleep (11), The Big Heat (20), T-Men (36), Ride the Pink Horse (38), White Heat (40), Brute Force (45), Vertigo (47), Dead Reckoning (48)
Films in italics are outside the 1941-53 time frame. RIDE THE PINK HORSE was screened at Elliot Lavine's summer noir series in 2016, which drew extremely well, so that probably eliminates it from consideration for NC 16. PHANTOM LADY screened just last month in Elliot's most recent series, so it too is now a long shot.
The films in the "top 10" of our old list that haven't been screened in NC SF for ten years (since NC 6) are: Out of the Past (1), Double Indemnity (3), D.O.A. (9).
In the next ten (11-20): Nightmare Alley (12), Night and the City (14), Raw Deal (16), Detour (17), The Narrow Margin (18).
In slots 21-25: Born to Kill (22), Murder My Sweet (23).
In the next tier (26-50): Strange Love of Martha Ivers (28), Mildred Pierce (29), Strangers on a Train (31), Caged (33), Hollow Triumph (34), Act of Violence (42), He Walked by Night (48), Phantom Lady (50).
Of the films in the "never screened" category, a few things are notable:
--Two big Bogart films haven't been screened (BIG SLEEP, DEAD RECKONING) which seems like a natural double bill.
--T-MEN, not yet screened, could pair with RAW DEAL to make a perfect "Eagle-Lion Mann/Alton" double bill, while also honoring Marsha Hunt, who (as you know) just turned 100.
--THE BIG HEAT could team with any number of films to make a solid double bill. Keeping it a Glenn Ford double would mean something like FRAMED (not seen since NC 5); making it into a Gloria Grahame double would suggest SUDDEN FEAR (shown twice previously, but not since NC 2).
--BRUTE FORCE would tie in with Jules Dassin or Burt Lancaster; for Dassin, it could easily be NIGHT AND THE CITY (last at NC 6), while for Lancaster one could pair it with THE KILLERS (just over the threshold, last screened at NC 7) or DESERT FURY (NC 2), or with something as yet unscreened (ROPE OF SAND, for instance, with its stellar supporting cast--Rains, Lorre, Henreid).
From Eddie's public comments, OUT OF THE PAST (specifically referenced) might get the nod here, as a way of reiterating that point. One doesn't expect too many "obvious" picks of this nature, however, so the likelihood of OOTP and DOUBLE INDEMNITY seems very remote. A double bill featuring two lionized "B's," however (DETOUR and THE NARROW MARGIN) just might make it into a matinee slot.
A sleeper here: BORN TO KILL, not seen since NC 1. It might be paired with a seldom-seen (and unscreened at NC) early "mystery noir" from MGM, CROSSROADS (1942), to provide an unusual but intriguing Claire Trevor double bill.