From the Robert Hossein triple bill on Friday to the colossal "triangle noir" duo on Sunday evening, the Roxie was rapt in attention to all eleven films. While attendance was curtailed somewhat by lingering COVID issues, the 100-120 who made the Roxie their home from 11/12 to 11/14 were totally focused on the show--not a single person walked out of the late shows once they started. One must salute these fans and their dedication to experiencing the wide range of French film noir and the additional context it provides for a true and complete history of film noir in the classic era.
A final example of that commitment and interest in the series can be seen in the fact that after the Sunday afternoon screening of Hossein's VAMPIRE DE DUSSELDORF (1965), all but two of the audience members remained in their seats to watch a seventeen-minute interview with Hossein from 1985 where he discusses the genesis of the film, its production, his professional and personal association with co-star Marie-France Pisier, and many other intriguing topics.
COMPARTIMENT TUEURS (1965), which is pure "noir candy," produced the same rapturous response that it received in 2019 thanks to the excellent work of its big-name stars (led by Montand and Signoret), the highly assured debut of director Costa-Gavras, a kinetic musical score, and a thrillingly shot final chase sequence. That said, it lacked the depth and psychological disturbance that PIEGE POUR CENDRILLON (1965) demonstrated, thanks in large part to a daring, bravura performance by Dany Carrel in a triple role.
Hugely popular as well was 1931's LES AMOURS DE MINUIT, with Expressionist lighting and copious, highly physical dance routines, and a brilliant performance by the obscure lead actress Daniele Parola, whose rendition of "Wounded Heart" was among the most affecting moments in the entire festival.
Improved subtitles gave Hossein's TOI LE VENIN (1958) some extra bite, while the big-screen presentation of LA MORT D'UN TUEUR (1964) brought out all of visual/narrative tricks that Hossein employed in a film with a singular synthesis of the tools in the noir toolbox.
On closing night, VOICI LE TEMPS DES ASSASSINS (1956) once again built beautifully to its frenetic conclusion, and VOYAGE SANS ESPOIR (the 1943 remake of LES AMOURS DE MINUIT) gave us the matchless performance of Simone Renant filtered through the bravura visuals of Robert Lefebvre.
Wish more of our Blackboard folk had been there, but thanks especially to those who came back to the movies for the first time since March 2020 just to see our series. It means a lot!
Friday TOI LE VENIN/LA MORT D'UN TUEUR/POINT DE CHUTE
Saturday LES AMOURS DE MINUIT/AU NOM DE LA LOI (mat)
COMPARTIMENT TUEURS/PIEGE POUR CENDRILLON (eve)
Sunday LE SILENCE DE LA MER/LE VAMPIRE DE DUSSELDORF (mat)
VOICI LE TEMPS DES ASSASSINS/VOYAGE SANS ESPOIR (eve)