Saturday, January 22, 2011
Noir City Film Festival 2011
Among the many film festivals in San Francisco every year, the Noir City Film Festival is easily the best for a number of reasons. First, the admission is cheap, $10 for a double bill.
Plus, the 1922 Castro Theater has the perfect large screen in the proper aspect ratio for vintage films. This is one of the few places in the world that you can see old movie stars and films in their original glory, projected with 35 millimeter film, often with newly restored prints commissioned by the festival's Noir Foundation.
The festival also creates a community, with film noir fanatics from all points on the globe traveling to San Francisco every winter, buying a $100 Passport to all twelve double-bills, and camping out for a fortnight at the Castro Theater.
Eddie Muller (above right, with Miss Noir City 9), is the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation and its festival. He opened the evening with a reminder that the sold-out house of 1,400+ had actually paid for the restoration of the 1947 "High Wall," the opening night movie. Set largely in a mental institution where World War Two vet Robert Taylor has been sent for observation after he may or may not have murdered his two-timing wife, the film is part of this year's theme, "Who's Crazy Now?" The 24 films in this edition are about "Noir City's most damaged and disturbed denizens. Here you’ll find all kinds of crazy––born crazy, driven crazy, and not as crazy as they seem," according to the program notes.
Eddie also told about going to a memorial service that afternoon in Marin County for Joe Gores, the recently deceased Bay Area crime writer who was an authority on Dashiell Hammett. "I was reminded why I left the Catholic church years ago," Muller explained. "Here was a priest talking for 45 minutes about Joe Gores, who died 50 years to the day after Dashiell Hammett, and in that entire 45 minutes he didn't once mention that Joe was a writer. That's insane. So let me dedicate this film festival to Joe's memory, because writing was his art, and this is our church where his art is worshiped and celebrated."