June Vincent Black Angel

USA 1946. Director: Roy William Neill. B&W, 35mm. 81 mins.
Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Constance Dowling

Dates and Venue 8 Aug @ 8.45pm; 11 Aug @ 7pm | Pacific Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street, Vancouver

An excellent b/w classic where we find archetypal noir villain Dan Duryea (Woman in the Window) cast as a sympathetic musician who falls into serious boozing and brooding when his treacherous wife abandons him. When she turns up murdered, he is the obvious suspect. In an alcoholic haze, he sets out to find her killer. Adapted from a novel by noir stalwart Cornell Woolrich, this noir features an excellent supporting cast, including Peter Lorre and Broderick Crawford. This is Neill's last film (he died of a heart attack the same year), and is best known for Universal's Basil Rathbone-Sherlock Holmes series of the 1940s. This is an an ingenious script and the audience is left in suspense wondering till the end who the murderer is.

Joan Bennett The Woman in the Window

USA 1944. Director: Fritz Lang. B&W, 35mm. 99 mins
Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, Edmund Breon, Dan Duryea

Dates and Venue 12 Aug @ 7pm; 13 Aug @ 8.45pm | Pacific Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street, Vancouver

Whether Fritz Lang copied from Hitchcock, or the other way around, this surrealistic film noir thriller is, in my opinion, the best of Lang's movies. It's stylish, it's seductive with class, unlike the films of today where soft porno is the in-thing. It has that certain Dali touch to it, a dream, a nightmare, so to speak, where Edward G. Robinson plays a professor of criminal psychology who finds his most vivid fantasies and fears fulfilled in an almost comic yet suspenseful nightmare where he meets with the woman of his dreams (Joan Bennett) who materializes from a painting in a gallery window where he passes regularly. He then becomes involved in the violent killing of a man, then in blackmail. Meanwhile his DA pal (Massey) keeps him in touch with the police’s search for the killer. With Dan Duryea as the blackmailer, this film noir is indeed a classic thriller.


Joan BennettKansas City Confidential

USA 1952. Director: Phil Karlson. B&W, 35mm. 99 mins.
Cast: John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Jack Elam

Dates and Venue 22 Aug @ 7pm; 24 Aug @ 9pm | Pacific Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street, Vancouver

It's interesting to see Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, and Jack Elam in their earlier films. Van Cleef later on earned his fame as a Spaghetti Western villain. I remember seeing John Payne as a child going to all those b/w movies, many of which were like this. What we consider a nostalgic look was a reality then in the 50s. When one got a colour film showing, that was a big deal. Later on, the big screen came and until now, colour and the big screen has been the norm, But it was always fascinating watching b/w films. Even television was all b/w until the late 50s when colour came into the picture. I remember John Payne always playing the good guy. The handsome fellows always played the good guys, while the baddies were the ugly ones like Van Cleef, Elam and Brand. Even today that's so. Nice nostalgic trip to memory lane was this film for me. I also lived in Kansas when I was a child, in 1951, and |I still remember the architecture and the cars shown in this film.

© 2011 Ed Farolan