Noir City: SUDDEN FEAR and THE NARROW MARGIN

I had to miss last night’s flicks and will miss tonight’s as well, but I still have a few things to say about them.

First of all, SUDDEN FEAR.

I’ll admit something that probably makes me a fucking Philistine. I don’t love Joan Crawford. I mean, I love the idea of Joan Crawford. How could I not? A strong, sexually-voracious, bisexual woman who worked her ass off to take control of her own career, reinvented herself constantly and refused to get off the stage after her predetermined Last Fuckable Day.

Also: Best. Bitch Eyebrows. EVER. I mean…

“Don’t fuck with me, fellas.”

Not only that, but I’ve seen SUDDEN FEAR, more than once, and there’s no question that she delivers an outstanding, oscar caliber performance in this film. But here’s the thing. You can listen to the best opera singer in the world and be fully aware of how amazing and talented that person is, and still not be all that into opera. And for me, that old-school, more-is-more style of acting is just never gonna lift my skirt.

That being said, it’s still a great flick for a zillion other reasons. Great story about a middle aged woman who lets her desire get the best of her. Great noirish cinematography. Jack Fucking Palance. Gloria Fucking Grahame. You should fucking watch it.

Side note: Although I didn’t catch the films, I did see Eddie Muller’s intro to this one and he brought up something I think a lot about every year.

He told a story about one of the very first festivals he programmed where a woman came up to him in tears in the middle of a screening of SUDDEN FEAR and said “Make them stop laughing!” She explained that it was her favorite movie of all time and there’s really nothing funny about what the main character goes through, and yet the audience is yukking it up like they’re watching the Marx Brothers. This is a bizarre and inexplicable phenomenon that bothers me every single time. Opening night this year had some particularly weird moments of unfathomable mirth, like people laughing at a map of LA streets. I mean, I get when people snicker at things that seem old-fashioned or dated, even though I wish they wouldn’t, but what the hell is funny about a map? But I suppose that modern quirk is a small price to pay to see these films on the big screen, the way they were meant to be experienced.

The second feature last night was THE NARROW MARGIN.

I was amazed to find that I hadn’t already written this one up here on the blog. I’ve seen it so often I can practically recite it from memory, and if you haven’t seen it yet, how are we even friends?


It’s a stellar performance by Noir City favorite Marie Windsor. Rock-jawed Charles McGraw is also at his gravelly best as the tough cop escorting a dead gangster’s moll on a twisty train ride where nothing is what it seems. Seriously, go watch it now. I’ll wait…

Anyway, tonight I’m missing out on THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS and 99 RIVER STREET, but I’ve seen them both and will still try to post a sweary word or two about them tomorrow.

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