NOIR CITY: CHICAGO

Poster for Noir City: Chicago August 28-31, 2017

I’ll be co-hosting NOIR CITY CHICAGO from 28-31August. Hope to see you there!


 

ONE WAY STREET

 

Examining Film Noir... On Campus

 

For those who are interested in the historical study of film noir, a close friend and colleague - Chris D., ace programmmer at the American Cinematheque - will be teaching "Examining Film Noir" at the Academy of Art in San Francisco during the month of September. This course is available to EVERYONE and I wouldn't recommend something like this unless I knew it was worthwhile. Here is the additional detail:

Writer, filmmaker, musician and on-sabbatical American Cinematheque programmer Chris D. will be teaching a Film Noir history class (called EXAMINING FILM NOIR) in the Liberal Arts department at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, starting mid-September, 2009. The class runs 15 sessions (or modules as they call them in academic-speak) on Tuesday afternoons, 3:30 PM – 6:20 PM. Classes consist of lecture, film clips (clips from between 5 - 6 films each session discussed in context of each session’s theme) and a 1 page written assignment each week based on an assigned film watched at home. Session themes include What is Film Noir?, Outlaw Couples, Amor Fou (Self-Destructive & Doomed Love), Going Straight (Prison Life & the Plight of the Ex-Con), The Sociopathic Killer, The Heist, Cops & Hoods, Social Issue & Docu-Drama Style Noir, The Doomed Man (or Woman) & Their Impossible Quest, The Private Eye and Others, Suburbs Gone Haywire, Noir from Europe, Neo-Noir (1960-1979) and Neo-Noir (1980-2009).

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Final Curtain for an Actor's Actor

When I found out that Karl Malden died last week, I initially recalled many of my favorite roles that he played and thought about how much he would be missed.

His peaceful demise at 97 years of age doesn’t qualify as a tragedy, but even as a signpost of normal passage, there is genuine bereavement at his departure.

As an actor and persona, Malden was so steady, so permanent. It never occurred to me that there would be a world without Karl Malden. He simply had always been there in movies, television and before all that, a belwether of Broadway.

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The hottest Streak

I was chatting with an actor friend recently and as we discussed a couple of his choicest roles in successful pictures, he remarked, “I was a pretty hot actor at that time!” His statement resonated with me. Actors, are like baseball players, gamblers and any number of other professions. They are all prone to hot streaks. Some performers begin like supernovas and remain overheated for their entire careers; Burt Lancaster’s jump start in The Killers (1946) comes to mind.These fortunate few are usually called “stars”. The vast majority of working actors, then and now, try to better their craft while making a living. I wondered though who had the hottest streak of any screen actor in terms of appearing in the best films over the shortest period of time. What was the cinematic equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game consecutive hitting streak?

Back in the days when Hollywood manufactured movies like General Motors used to roll out new cars, “hot” meant a lot more than just working steady. It meant you were a relatively fresh commodity in a town constantly looking for original faces. You were also a damn good actor and, if you were lucky enough not to be shackled by the ubiquitous seven year contract to a studio overseer, work was available all over town. You were in demand, you landed the choice parts and the movies themselves turned out to be good… if not sometimes great.

1939 is universally accepted as Hollywood’s finest year for movies. This singular epoch has been getting a lot of visibility lately. The Motion Picture Academy is screening all of their Best Picture nominees for 1939 this summer and Turner Classic Movies will be showing “39 from 39” next month, a retrospective that coincides with (surprise!) the release of a Warner Home Video DVD about this historic year of film. Bouquets to 1939 notwithstanding, this piece is about the incredible twelve month run of film roles by the great character actor, Thomas Mitchell.

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DVDs