Look, we are all coping with our creeping existential dread and pandemic anxiety in different ways. I realize that most people are busy endlessly refreshing twitter and reading a zillion articles about how fucked we all are. There are probably three of you (hi, mom!) who are actually bothering to read this, but fuck it. It makes me feel better.
So, onward, then.
First up in what would have been a truly epic all-day marathon, OUT OF THE PAST.
This is probably one of, if not the best known, most beloved and quintessential Film Noirs of all time. Like GUN CRAZY, I’m kind of astounded that I haven’t written this one up yet, but here we are.
Robert Mitchum plays a gas station owner with a checkered past who gets roped into hunting down a gangsters moll on the lam with 40K, played by the luminous Jane Greer. He can’t help falling for the girl and needless to say things do not go well for him.
Eddie Muller always gives props to the writers in his intro speeches, and I’ll do the same for Geoffrey Homes and the novel on which the film is based, BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH. I own the Ace Double edition, back to back with Harry Whittington THE HUMMING BOX. It’s pretty similar, but there is one change worth mentioning and that’s the femme fatale’s name. In the movie it’s Kathy Moffat, but in the book it’s the astounding and wonderful Mumsie McGonigle. Which I will be using as my secret celeb-checking-into-a-high-end-love-nest-hotel pseudonym from now on. Don’t tell the paparazzi.
This is a really good movie and you should go watch it right now, even if you have seen it already. It’s one of the best, but you don’t need me to tell you that. So how about a confession instead. I figure I can get away with saying this because I’m talking to a mostly empty theater right now.
(Taps mic. Clears throat.)
I don’t love Robert Mitchum.
(Ducks behind the couch)
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t DIS-like him. Not at all. But I don’t love him the way that so many other fans of the genre do and I can’t quite put my finger on why not. He just doesn’t send me. I don’t find him physically attractive and never found his ubercool, hep-cat vibe appealing. Give me brooding, tortured Robert Ryan any day of the week. Or, my personal favorite Noir antihero, Richard Widmark. Your millage may (probably will) vary.
Still with me? Ok, moving right along…
Next up, THE GUILTY.
This is another one that I’ve already seen and already written up. It’s a Cornell Woolrich adaptation and it’s not very good but I loved it anyway. If you are watching OUT OF THE PAST for the first time today, maybe skip this one, but if you’re a noir completist, check it out.
The next one in the line up, HIGH TIDE, is a real heartbreaker for me, because this was the only one that I haven’t seen and doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else. I’m desperately hoping that once all this blows over, they will be able to reschedule so I can see this one.
In the meantime, you can watch Eddie’s intro from Seattle to get a taste of what we missed. I think I got something in my eye…
Right, ok let’s keep soldiering on, shall we?
Next to last is THE PROWLER
I’ve already seen and written up this deliciously sleazy flick and highly recommend it. Seriously, don’t miss out on this one.
I’ll be seeing you, Susan.
The big finale for the evening would have been TRY AND GET ME.
First of all, I fucking love this poster. Seriously. Lloyd Bridges steals the show in the film as much as he does on the poster.
A broke and struggling family man (Frank Lovejoy) meets a charming, dapper psychopath (Bridges) who convinces him that a life of crime is the answer to his money problems. They embark on a series of small time robberies, culminating in an ill-fated kidnapping that will end in tragedy.
Also, there’s this weirdly homoerotic and deeply unnerving scene where Lovejoy drinks and shirtless Bridges primps and poses while describing all the chicks he nailed during the war.
It’s almost funny until you see how quick Bridges turns on him when Lovejoy so much as hints that he might not be willing to go along with his new friend’s plan.
There’s also a parallel story of a journalist whose scare-mongering coverage of the kidnapping whips everyone into the hateful frenzy that leads to the bleak as fuck ending.
This grim and almost unbearably tense flick was originally known as THE SOUND OF FURY and is based on a real life incident. It was recently featured on TCM’s Noir Alley and worth seeing if you can. Its message condemning the media for sensationalizing human suffering for profit feels as relevant as ever.
Today would have been the last day of the festival, with two double features: first PORTRAIT OF JENNIE and GIRL WITH HYACINTHS and then THE SPIRITUALIST and IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND. I haven’t seen any of these and will have to see if they are available to stream. If so, you better believe the post-plague write ups will continue. Stay tuned…