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Film Noir Alive and Well at Roxie
by Tom Mayer
Last year, Elliot Lavine, a former Roxie Theater programmer, returned to his old haunts to present the wildly popular series “I Wake Up Dreaming: The Haunted World of Film Noir.” This year, Lavine is back with another amazing program, “I Still Wake Up Dreaming,” of rare film noir to dazzle the most discriminating fans, May 14 -27.
Poster from "Jealosy." Photo: Courtesy T. Mayer
''What sets this series apart from many of the other noir festivals I've done before," notes Lavine, "Is the utter depth and breadth of scarcity reflected in these titles. I've been blessed with the cooperation of some of the major studios who control the rights to these films--namely Sony (Columbia) who very graciously struck completely new 35mm prints of Columbia Pictures' eerily brilliant Whistler series.''
Columbia produced the 1940s The Whistler mystery series, starring Richard Dix: "Mark of the Whistler" (based on a story by Cornell Woolrich), "Mysterious Intruder" (a major rediscovery from director William Castle), "Power of the Whistler" (with the great Janis Carter) as well as "Voice of the Whistler," "The Thirteenth Hour," and "Secret of the Whistler." All six Whistler films will be presented in studio archive 35mm prints.
Lavine has been doing the SF cinema scene since moving here from the Motor City in the 70s. After running the Rox during is strong 1990-2003 period, he went into film academics, teaching at Stanford, State and elsewhere. But you can’t keep him away from exhibition.
''I'm excited because the series also features six rare United Artists noir gems from the 1950s: Jacques Tourneur’s cold-war thriller "The Fearmakers" starring Dana Andrews; Phil Karlson’s gritty gem "99 River Street" with John Payne and Evelyn Keyes; the freakishly strange "Nightmare" with Edward G. Robinson; Ed McBain’s rough and sleazy "Cop Hater;" "Shield for Murder" directed by and starring noir icon Edmond O’Brien; and Henry Silva in the ultra-violent ‘63 Rat Pack noir "Johnny Cool.''" All these films are presented in studio archive 35mm prints.
Many people feel the B-Film, with Noir as its exemplar, are the perfect stealth art, coming in under the radar as completely commercial but then rising while viewing into the realms of art. Many also wonder about Noir's meta-meaning, appearing as it did during the supposedly buccolic 50s. WWII had been won, and the celebrations lasted for years around the world, but dealing with its darkness was evidently needed, hence the return to a feel not seen much in American art since Poe or Lovecraft. Was it a way of working out demons, putting a naïve people in touch with evil, brilliant marketing, or all three?
Programs also include ultra-rare 16mm B noirs from the libraries of private collectors and none have ever been released on VHS or DVD. See
Posted on May 12, 2010 - 03:58 PM