Monday, January 30, 2012
San Francisco Is Noir City
The wildly successful, ten-day Noir City Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday at the Castro Theatre with a six-film Dashiell Hammett marathon.
Friday evening, the nearly full house was entertained by the Los Angeles chanteuse Laura Ellis, who has just released a "Femme Fatale" CD featuring torch songs from old films.
Noir City founder Eddie Muller (above right) introduced this year's Ms. Noir City, Helena Bianca, who modeled for this year's festival poster as the character Brigid O'Shaughnessy in Dashiell Hammett's old San Francisco apartment where he wrote The Maltese Falcon.
The featured film was the 1949 Thieves' Highway with Richard Conte as a WWII veteran, Valentina Cortese as a waterfront "working girl," and Lee J. Cobb as a Mafia distributor in San Francisco's old produce market which has since been supplanted by the Embarcadero Center. The trail of corruption and violence that surrounds a truckload of Golden Delicious apples that makes its way from Fresno to San Francisco is outrageously entertaining, and as the beautiful four-color program maintains, the film is "a masterpiece of proletariat noir."
At the end of Eddie's introduction to the movie, he was surprised with a commendation from the San Francisco Mayor's Office, extolling him for all his contributions to the city. "You are commended for such-and-such, and then there's some legalese, and it's signed by Mayor Edwin M. Lee." Muller was gracious about the official honor, but his eyebrows raised when he read the mayor's name, and he added, "I'd better keep my mouth shut here. Just remember, San Francisco IS Noir City, and that includes City Hall," referring I assume to the film genre's fascination with official corruption and double-dealing.