After the main theater was filled to near capacity for various feature films over the first four days of the Noir City Festival, it appeared that tonight's audience would be much smaller. As the announced starting time for "Chicago Deadline" approached, a few more patrons trickled into the auditorium. One by one the fans arrived. By the time the introductory comments were finished, another sizeable crowd had assembled. The audience for the second feature "Larceny" was respectably large too.
After the theater closed, I walked to the elevated train. While on the platform, I overheard an animated discussion about "Chicago Deadline" taking place across the tracks.
Years ago, I was tasked with the assignment of reading Tiffany Thayer's salacious pulp novel "One Woman." I did so to spare you from having to read it yourself. Screenwriter Warren Duff delivered the goods by reworking the material into a script that passed muster with the censors and provided good dramatic entertainment as well. The screenplay was much better than the source material. Donna Reed's character is sanitized to the point where she becomes a sympathetic figure. June Havoc's good time girl "Leona" is toned down considerably from the book. In the movie, she is repulsed by boxing matches. In the original book, she is aroused by the sight of sweaty pugilists bloodying each other in the ring.
Alan K. Rode revealed that the Chicago location shooting schedule totaled a mere six days. Nonetheless, the results greatly enhanced the finished film. I was able to recognize another location that escaped me on prior viewings: Arthur Kennedy's initial appearance took place in the lakefront railroad yard of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. These tracks are immediately east of Michigan Avenue.
Sometimes, it is fun to see supporting actors in different roles over the course of the festival. Harry Antrim played a city editor of "The Chicago Journal" in the Alan Ladd feature "Chicago Deadline." In the night cap, "Larceny," he was a realtor based in Mission City, California. "Larceny" contains some terrific dialogue from screenwriter Bill Bowers. The criminals in the movie are sophisticated con artists seeking to promote a war memorial and a youth center as a front for their plan to swindle a wealthy widow. John Payne plays the lead role with a good supporting cast.
For those of you who have been unable to attend a Noir City Festival, one of the rewards that you have missed is listening to the enthusiastic reactions from the audience. The fans applaud and laugh at appropriate times in response to the on screen action. It is much rarer to witness such clapping and laughing with contemporary films, even well made movies. I have been to newer films where there may be some clapping after the end titles are shown, but at Noir City some audience members are fully engaged throughout the complete running times of different movies.