Friday, December 16, 2011

A Deanna Durbin Noir City Xmas

The Noir City film festival was gearing up for its tenth anniversary this coming January 20-29 at the Castro Theatre with a Christmas-themed double bill last Wednesday. Both films starred the 1930s child superstar Deanna Durbin in 1940s attempts at "adult" roles, before the actress married her French director from "Lady on a Train" and moved to a suburb of Paris where she lives to this day, outlasting Greta Garbo in the Star Who Wants to Be Alone sweepstakes.

Eddie Muller, above right, the Czar of Noir and founder of the festival, is fighting a self-described losing battle against time and the digital age, which only makes his attempts at preservation more heroic. Muller's passion for 35mm film projected onto a large screen is shared by a wide range of Film Noir cultists and cineastes worldwide, and they tend to sell out the festival at the Castro Theatre every year.

"Lady on a Train" turned out to be a fascinatingly bizarre mixture of murder mystery, comedy, and musical. Seeing it in a pristine 35mm print on the huge 4:3 aspect ratio Castro Theatre screen, as it was intended to be shown, was a genuine San Francisco treat that exists in few other places in the world. Click here for Noir City X details, with highlights that include an appearance by Angie Dickinson in person, a restoration of the 1949 version of "The Great Gatsby" with Alan Ladd and Shelley Winters that hasn't been seen since the early 1970s, plus a Dashiell Hammett Marathon finale.

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