Actor, Author, Playwright
A Week of New Noir

A Week of New Noir

I’ve been following the Noir City Film Festivals for the last couple of years, and was always jealous of San Francisco and L. A. and the other cities that hosted events.  At the end of July, it was Chicago’s turn.

Run by the Film Noir Foundation, the festivals feature double bills of well-known films and little-seen gems.  Most of the films were introduced by either Eddie Muller (“the Czar of Noir”) or Foster Hirsch.

You can check out the Film Noir Foundation here:

I attended each of the little-known films and, interspersed with some unseen noir films on Turner Classic Movies, I had a “Week of New Noir.”

Here’s the rundown (I’m not a scholar or reviewer, I’m just giving a few impressions.  All of these summaries are bare boned by even bare boned standards and don’t do justice to the films.  If you want more info, check IMDb):

Friday, July 31
Framed (1947)   Noir City Festival
Directed by Richard Wallace, screenplay by Ben Maddow.  Starring Glenn Ford.
A drifter gets wrapped up with a nasty lady.   Pretty good.  Great opening, but fizzles a little at the end.
3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 2   Noir City Festival
The Breaking Point (1950)
Directed by Michael Curtiz, screenplay by Randall MacDougall.  Starring John Garfield and Patricia Neal.
A remake of To Have and Have Not.   Great!  The crown jewel of the week.  Buried upon release because Garfield was put on the McCarthy List.
4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 3   Noir City Festival
Chicago Syndicate (1955)
Directed by Fred F. Sears, screenplay by Joseph Hoffman.  Starring Dennis O’Keefe.
Not really noir, more of a procedural.  An accountant goes undercover to get a gang.   Okay.  The Chicago locations made it more interesting (especially the underground tunnels).
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday August 4   Turner Classic Movies
Cry Danger (1951)
Directed by Robert Parrish, screenplay by William Bowers.  Starring Dick Powell.
Innocent man gets out of jail and goes after the guy he did time for.  Pretty good, although it had almost the same lackluster ending as Framed.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 5   Noir City Festival
The Prowler (1951)
Directed by Joseph Losey, screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.  Starring Van Heflin.
A cop gets obsessed with a married woman.  Another great one!  I spoiled this one for myself.  There weren’t going to be any introductions at the festival, so I researched it on my own before I went and ruined many of the plot twists.
4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, August 6   Turner Classic Movies
Bunco Squad (1950)
Directed by Herbert I. Leeds, screenplay by George Callahan.  Starring Robert Sterling.
Again, not really a noir, a procedural.  Cops going after phony fortune tellers.   Routine, but I love stuff that takes place in the fortune teller/medium milieu.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 7   Turner Classic Movies
The Undercover Man (1949)
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, screenplay by Jack Rubin and Sydney Boehm.  Starring Glenn Ford.
Another procedural.  A treasury agent goes undercover to get a gang leader (Al Capone).  Some of the scenes in this one are re-created in DePalma’s Untouchables.  Pretty good.
3 out of 5 stars.

So there you have it, seven new noir films in eight days (I had to take one day off for the Raven Theatre benefit – Support Raven Theatre!!!).

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