ONE WAY STREET
Alan's sporadic takes on Film Noir and other aspects of pop culture
Odds and Ends
While resolving that I will not be at the screenings of Red Light and Walk a Crooked Mile at Noir City in San Francisco this Thursday because work beckons, my thoughts turned to...
The Noir City opener this weekend in San Francisco
A better weekend of darkness could not be imagined! After the opening night double header of Pitfall-one of the seminal film noirs, IMHO and Larceny on Friday, Saturday brought the debut of the restored print of Cry Danger (funded by the Film Noir Foundation, btw) followed by another Bill Bowers scribed jewel, The Mob. The Cry Danger screening was special. Not only was this underrated film in spectacular shape thanks to the stellar efforts of the UCLA restoration team, I brought my pal, Richard Erdman up to the Castro Theater to share in the good vibes. Dick has the best part in the film as a smartass drunken sidekick to Dick Powell. He shared a dirty joke and several yarns about the film on stage with Eddie Muller after receiving a standing ovation from an appreciative 1200 people. Really a special evening. In between it was enjoying the wonderful cuisine and hospitality with close friends that makes San Francisco one of my all time favorite burgs. I am looking forward to returning to the Noir City this weekend to introduce screenings of Armored Car Robbery and Inside Job. Open up those Golden Gates!
I was startled, not shocked by her passing. Jean was a relentless smoker for a very long time and everyone knows what that means. When she came to the Egyptian Theater nearly a decade ago for a screening of Angel Face, (the last time that ever happened- she loathed the film because Otto Preminger treated her so brutally) Simmons smoked continually while intermittently munching on a burger in the green room. I spoke with her at length for my bio on Charles McGraw. Once Jean concluded that I was ok, she relaxed and conversed easily about everything including the two subjects she had previously told me not to ask her about: Otto Preminger and Howard Hughes. She was beautifully gracious to phone me out of the blue over a year later to tell me that she loved the book, particularly the chapter on In Cold Blood and Richard Brooks, her second husband whom she still loved dearly. Jean was a witty, dear person who had her share of troubles. She was a terrific actress and one of the most beautiful faces ever seen on screen. I will miss her.
Have Gun Will Travel
I've been watching this program via Tivo off of the Western Channel on and off for the past several weeks. Although now over 50 years old (Judas Priest!) I am consistently impressed on how good an episodic show Have Gun truly was. Much of the quality is due to Richard Boone. As Paladin, the unforgettable Boone mug complemented a formidable acting talent that effortlessly projected menace, humor, and compassion with equal dexterity. Add to it, the tightly wound scripts that were churned out by the likes of Steve Fisher, Jack Laird, Irving Wallace and Gene Roddenberry. Like an old home week for film buffs, the HGWT episodes are invariably peopled with about every familiar character actor who was drawing breath at the time. It also not too much of a stretch to consider this venerable program as sagebrush noir. Paladin is a nineteenth century Philip Marlowe with black hat and gun. A gun for hire who prefers reason over brawn, Paladin lives by his own code of honor, is beholden to no one and has an easy way with the ladies. And I dig the card!
In her own way, Laura Wagner, noted writer and book reviewer is as tough as Paladin. Her uncompromising, and often unsparing critiques of film books from Classic Images have been compiled in a tome that is essential reading to safely navigate the endless deluge of film star biographies and genre anthologies. It is an unfortunate circumstance that awful books about vintage film stars and their milieu have proliferated at an alarming rate. Miss Wagner's unstinting regard for the value of accuracy, authentic research and quality prose illuminates the good, the bad and the ugly amongst the current crop of film books and represents a public service for the inquisitive buff.