Noir City the Home Game: PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, GIRL WITH HYACINTHS, THE SPIRITUALIST and IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND

Here we are, at the end of the line up that wasn’t. Composing the final post of any Noir City festival is always a little sad. This year, it’s weirdly emotional and strange and melancholy and here I am, doing it anyway. Thanks, Noiristas and Faustketeers, for sticking with me to the bitter end.

First of the last, PORTRAIT OF JENNIE.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic little girl in the park (Jennifer Jones) seduces a broke-ass NYC artist (Joseph Cotten) into supernatural romance that ends in inevitable tragedy.

This is the first film of this year’s festival that is not for me. Remember my post about THE GUILTY? That is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I loved it. This is a good film and I don’t like it at all. From the super pretentious opening voiceover to the creepy “wait for me to grow up” encounter with the not-really-little girl. The sappy, soapy romance and the melodramatic tragedy left me cold. Your milage my vary, but this one gets a hard pass from me.

Interesting historical note: This may be one of the earliest manifestations of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.

Next up, GIRL WITH HYACINTHS.

It’s a real tragedy that the previous movie, which I didn’t like at all, is widely available and easy to see, whereas this one is much harder to see and seems much more like my kinda flick. It’s available on YouTube, but without subtitles, so all I could do is enjoy how gorgeous and moody it is while only having the most tentative grasp of its LAURA-like plot.

From what I can figure, a beautiful young woman hangs herself and a man starts trying to reconstruct events leading up to her death. There seems to be some kind of art connection, which makes sense as it was paired with JENNIE, but that’s all I’ve got. If you speak Swedish, you should definitely check this one out. If not, you and me both will just have to hope for a Noir City do-over.

Next up in our big finale, THE SPIRITUALIST (aka THE AMAZING MR. X.)

All you really need to know about this flick is that Turhan “The Turkish Delight” Bey has a pet crow and likes to get tied up. So basically, best movie ever made.

A rich, grieving widow seems like an easy mark for a shady spiritualist (Bey) only he didn’t count on falling for her little sister and finding out that nothing is what it seems.

What’s funny about this movie is that I didn’t like it at all at first. I thought is was going to be a hokey, overwrought supernatural melodrama, but it’s really noir with a turban instead of a fedora. I mean, it’s no NIGHTMARE ALLEY, but covers similar ground, and did I mention that Turhan Bey gets tied up? Seriously.

This movie is in the public domain and I don’t want to give too much away about the fun twisty plot, so just watch it already. I’ll wait.

The last movie in the series was supposed to be IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND (En la Palma de tu Mano.) 

My Spanish is way better than my (non-existent) Swedish, but still far from fluent. I was able to watch this one without subtitles too, but I know I missed a lot.

Like the previous film, there is a shady fortune teller and a beautiful widow. Only the tables get turned and it’s the femme fatale widow who ensnares the blackmailing palm reader in her web of greed, lust and murder.

I’d love to see it again on a big screen, with subtitles to catch everything I missed. In the mean time, there are probably way more people following this blog who speak Spanish than Swedish, and if that’s you, you need to see this flick.

Well, that’s it. The motherfucking end. Things are so uncertain right now it’s impossible to imagine what might happen tomorrow, let alone next year. Nonetheless, I’m gonna hold out hope that there really will be a make up screening for the titles that we missed and, of course, a Noir City Hollywood 2021. And 22. And 23. Because dark movies help get us through dark times.

And, hey, I know that there’s a lot of strain on everyone’s wallet right now and we are all in a precarious place financially, but if you have a few extra bucks please consider donating to the Film Noir Foundation, which makes these festivals possible and will be taking a hit due to the cancelations of planned screenings.

Remember, it’s a bitter little world but we’re all in it together.

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