Hard to believe another Noir City festival is almost over. Last night was the big closing weekend celebration and a special tribute to the unforgettable Ann Savage.
First the flick, DETOUR.
This film is one of my personal favorites and Savage’s character Vera is probably one of the top five femme fatales of all time. Eddie Muller also mentioned in his intro that her co-star Tom Neal had what might be the most noirish real life story in Hollywood. He was a Harvard educated ex-boxer who beat Franchot Tone into a coma over Bad Blonde Barbara Payton and was later convicted of manslaughter for the allegedly accidental shooting of his second wife. Which adds an element of dark foreshadowing to this fast and dirty little Noir classic.
A lovesick piano player (Neal) is hitchhiking to Los Angeles to reconnect with his star-struck fiancé when he gets a lift from shady character with a thick wad of cash and scratches on his hand from a wildcat he’d recently picked up. The driver dies in his sleep while Neal is taking a shift behind the wheel and Neal panics, convinced he will be blamed for the man’s death. It’s Noir City, so rather than calling the cops like a decent, law abiding citizen, he hides the body and assumes the dead man’s identity. And he almost gets away with it, until he stops to give that same wildcat a ride.
She’s a wildcat all right. Disheveled and vicious with nothing to lose. Ann Savage’s performance as Vera is one of the best in the genre, from her coiled-snake body language to her sharp, whip-crack delivery of every poisonous line. Her eyes in the above photo say it all.
This flick was shot for pennies and proves that you don’t need a big budget to make an unforgettable Film Noir. It’s the characters that sell it. Sure, the plot features several outrageous and hard-to-swallow twists, but the performances are so brilliant that you just don’t care. Mistress Christa says you need this movie in your life.
After the film, we were treated to a taste of a forthcoming documentary about Ann Savage that included some great interview footage. She talked about how much she enjoyed the role reversal of being able to abuse and degrade her tough, bad-boy co-star. She also had some interesting things to say about working with director Edgar Ulmer to perfect Vera’s famous quick-draw delivery, how she had to slouch down low and speak quickly through clenched teeth. She was smart cookie and a class act all the way.
For more on Ann Savage, I urge you to check out my pal Lisa Morton’s bio SAVAGE DETOURS.
Now, on to the party! I know what your first burning question is. What did I wear?
My ensemble included a vintage chinchilla cape-style jacket, a black satin cocktail dress by Stop Staring, nude full-fashion stockings with a black backseam and heel from Secrets in Lace, vintage peep toe pumps, a vintage rhinestone choker and a vintage sequined cocktail hat. Underneath it all, my favorite Rago girdle and a few precious drops of vintage Mitsouko perfume by Guerlain.
I love any excuse to dress to the nines, and clearly I wasn’t the only one. All the sharp gents and dishy dames in Hollywood were turned out in style to celebrate the end of yet another outstanding Noir City festival. There were vintage threads by Clever Vintage, fabulous vintage hairstyling demos and one lucky gal won a vintage makeover from one of my favorite cosmetic companies, Besame.
Out in the courtyard, they offered cocktails and chow, and my old friend Dean Mora’s Swingtet had ’em swinging under the stars. It’s always a pleasure to hear the saucy song stylings of Pop Faust’s favorite sultry songbird Kayre Morrison.
Tragically, I didn’t get any photos of the Film Noir themed Burly Q show, but I was too busy wolf-whistling and rolling my tongue back up into my mouth. Loved the Blade Runner themed number. Too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?
So kudos to our dapper hosts Alan K. Rode and Eddie Muller. You guys did it again.
Of course, it ain’t over till it’s over, and we still got one more night left to go. They’ve saved the best for last with an American 1952 remake of Lang’s M and Ida Lupino’s THE HITCH-HIKER.