The last weekend…of this year’s Noir City

I spent most of the weekend at the Grand Lake enjoying the Noir City festival, watching dark crime movies. Here’s what I saw:

Saturday Matinée

B+ Night Has a Thousand Eyes

Do you want to know the future? In this dark fantasy, Edward G. Robinson can see the future, and he wishes he couldn’t. He makes a living on the Vaudeville circuit, but most people don’t believe him, and he knows that some very awful things are going to happen. William Demarest – Preston Sturges favorite comic – plays a defective detective, as he usually does very well.

The next three films starred a very young Burt Lancaster.

A- All My Sons

I loved this play when I read it in college. Saturday, I finally saw it – or at least the film version (I didn’t know there was a film version until a few weeks ago). Edward G. Robinson and a very young Burt Lancaster play father and son. There was another son who disappeared in the war, and the mother (Mady Christians) can’t accept that her son is dead. Worst of all, the father ran a company in the war, and knowingly shipped bad airplane parts. In other words, the father has a lot of blood on his hands.

Saturday Night

A Sorry, Wrong Number

You can’t find a darker noir; almost everyone here is evil. Barbara Stanwyck is a rich and mean invalid stuck in her bed. When a telephone wire gets crossed (that really used to happen), she listens to men discussing a planned murder. Slowly, she realizes that she’s the intended victim. Burt Lancaster plays the husband who desperately needs to get away from his harpy yet wealthy wife. Through flashbacks, you see the killers digging their deeper holes. Based on a famous radio play.

B Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

The story is far less gruesome than the title. In his first movie, Burt Lancaster plays an American in England who accidentally murdered a man in a fight. Now he’s running from the police, falling in love with Joan Fontaine, and being blackmailed by Robert Newton – probably the worst British actor to have a career. It’s an unlikely story, but it’s fun.

Sunday, matinee & evening

On the last day of the festival, they played only one double bill – screened both in the afternoon as well as the evening.

B+ Unfaithfully Yours

Preston Sturge’s best movie after his high point involves classical music, private detectives, possible adultery, and not that much humor. But as the movie goes along, it becomes screamingly funny. Rex Harrison plays a famous conductor who suspects his wife is cheating. As he conducts, he dreams of several ways to get rid of his possibly cheating spouse. But when he tries to turn his evil daydreams into reality, everything goes wrong – including a gloriously funny sequence about the problems of technology.

The last time I saw this movie, streaming, I gave it only a B-. But seeing it again in a big theater with an audience, I realized that it’s far more enjoyable than it was before.

B- The Velvet Touch

This theatrical noir is way too much a vehicle for Rosalind Russell, you rarely see them offscreen. She plays a great Broadway comic actress, hoping she can jump to serious dramas. She accidentally kills her producer (and former lover) – but as I saw it, it looked like self-defense. The best part of the movie is Sydney Greenstreet as a very kind and well-mannered detective.

And that’s the end of this year’s Noir City.