Monday, January 26, 2009

Newspaper Noir

The seventh installment of Eddie Muller's annual Film Noir festival got underway last Friday at the Castro Theatre and its theme was the press.

In the program notes, Muller writes:
"As modern technology further isolates the public in the supposed luxury of at-home, on-demand convenience, Noir City remains dedicated to the grand communal majesty of the moviegoing experience. Enjoy it while you can, because pretty soon, watching a black-and-white movie on a huge screen will be as obsolete as...reading a newspaper."

"The films of this year's festival celebrate a time when the newspaper was the dominant influence on American daily life, the central nervous system of our society. That day is over, and we hope this series is a fitting tribute to the legacy of America's fourth estate in all its flawed and fabulous glory."

The 1,407 seat Castro Theatre may be unique in the world, a lovingly rehabilitated movie palace dating from silent film days, that often plays host to revivals of old films.

Though widescreen films are often shown, the greatest experiences at the theater tend to be older movies in a 4:3 aspect ratio which perfectly fit the original screen. The Noir City Film Festival and its accompanying Foundation specializes in restoring many of these rarities.

Eddie Muller (above) was a journalist for about 15 years, following in the footsteps of his father who was the boxing writer for the "San Francisco Examiner" for decades. He has written novels, scholarly books on Film Noir, a biography of Tab Hunter, and recently made a short movie with Marsha Hunt. His most outrageously successful venture, however, may be this annual film festival which sells out most of its screenings to a huge, hardcore fan base. (Click here for Muller's website.)

As Muller explained, "We're old school and don't have any corporate sponsors. This is kept going by all of you in the audience, the smartest, most sophisticated filmgoers in the world. Plus, we're offering two tightly written movies at each program that take less time to watch than 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,' and cost less to watch too." The festival continues at the Castro through the weekend, ending with the smashing double bill of "The Killers" and "Sweet Smell of Success." Click here for a schedule.


zoo said...

love the killers, both of them, specially the one with lee marvin and cassavetes! and ronald reagan as the big mobster!he was great at it, i wonder why!! ahahhaha

Matthew Hubbard said...

For movie dialog, Sweet Smell of Success is right up at the top. One line of Burt Lancaster's sums up film noir almost perfectly.

"I love this dirty town."