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10 Films to See at Noir City: Hollywood 2020

The TCM Classic Film Festival isn’t for another month, but if you’re fortunate to live in the City of Angels like I am then you don’t have to necessarily limit yourself to one classic film-centric event. In fact, if you’re in Los Angeles throughout the first two weeks of March it’s worth it to get dark and gritty with Noir City: Hollywood. Noir City is a traveling festival that happens in numerous states throughout the year, starting in San Francisco.

But taking part in the Hollywood event is particularly special because you get to watch these movies in the legendary Egyptian Theater. This is my first year being able to attend Noir City and I can’t wait to partake of what’s available. Here are just 10 of the movies I’m excited for this year! I’ve also included links to purchase tickets for each screening.

Honorable Mentions: M (1931), Gilda (1946), Out of the Past (1947)

The Devil Strikes at Night (1957)

Official Synopsis: The greatest practitioner of Hollywood noir (PHANTOM LADY, THE KILLERS, CRISS CROSS, et al), returned to Germany in the 1950s to finish his career; this powerful film was his payback to the Nazis who chased him from his homeland. Based on the true story of murderer Bruno Lüdke, it’s a tense policier that also explores how those who did not flee the Reich struggled to maintain their integrity and morality in the face of overwhelming corruption and evil.

Screens Sunday, March 8th

Fly-By-Night (1942)

Official Synopsis: Don’t miss this little-seen gem, one of the first Hollywood efforts of noir maestro Robert Siodmak. Shifting with Hitchcockian aplomb between suggestive light comedy and thickly shadowed suspense, Siodmak stuffs two features’ worth of stylish set pieces into a sprightly running time, making this as good as wartime B picture as anything produced in the era. Richard Carlson’s and Nancy Kelly’s romance-on-the-run chemistry, laced with witty innuendo (and plenty of Kelly’s fine gams) is reminiscent of Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in THE 39 STEPS. Great fun, and surprisingly sexy for its time.

Screens Sunday, March 8th

My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

Official Synopsis: Unemployed Julia (Nina Foch) gets a dream job working for a wealthy widower, only to awaken in a nightmare – married to a schizo husband with a scheming mother-in-law (George Macready and Dame May Whitty), neither of whom she’s ever seen before! Director Joseph H. Lewis (GUN CRAZY, THE BIG COMBO) made his mark in Hollywood with this incredibly tense and well-acted mystery thriller, one of the best B films of the era. “She went to sleep as a secretary… and woke up as a madman’s bride!”

Screens Sunday, March 8th

The Long Haul (1957)

Official Synopsis: Harry Miller (Victor Mature), an American GI married to a British war bride (Gene Anderson), signs on as a long-haul lorry driver and finds the business rife with corruption, especially gangster Joe Easy (Patrick Allen). When Easy’s girl Lynn (Diana Dors) takes a shine to Harry, his sturdy moral fiber is stretched every which way. A well-wrought and amusingly sleazy British version of Hollywood trucking tales like THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT and THIEVES’ HIGHWAY, this satisfies the craving of noir addicts with its underworld misfits, shadowy atmospherics and voluptuous Dors doing all she can to mess with Mature’s marriage. With a thrilling climax right out of THE WAGES OF FEAR.

Screens Wednesday, March 11th with special intro by Alan K. Rode and Victoria Mature

The Guilty (1947)

Official Synopsis: Two war buddies (Don Castle and Wally Cassel) fall for twin sisters (both played by Bonita Granville). When one sister turns up dead, the boys are dogged by a suspicious police inspector (Regis Toomey). Working with only three sets and virtually no budget, director Reinhardt and DP Henry Sharp evoke the dreadful, dead-of-night ambiance that was the domain of prolific noir scribe Cornell Woolrich.

Screens Saturday, March 14th as part of a 5-film marathon

The Prowler (1951)

Official Synopsis: A perverse, provocative film about a corrupt cop (Van Heflin) who sexually dominates a married woman (Evelyn Keyes) for material gain. Oh yeah, he murders her husband in the process – then marries her. And she ends up giving birth in a Nevada ghost town. Hands down, Keyes’ best performance. Heflin’s desperate pursuit of his skewed vision of the American Dream lingers in the memory – potent, haunting and disturbingly similar to today’s headline news. A rediscovered masterpiece not to be missed!

Screens Saturday, March 14th as part of a 5-film marathon

Try and Get Me (1951)

Official Synopsis: The true story of a shocking 1934 kidnapping and murder in San Jose was the inspiration for one of the most compelling – and unjustly neglected – masterpieces of film noir. Hard-luck ex-GI Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy) meets flashy hood Jerry Slocum (Lloyd Bridges), who eases gullible Howard into a lucrative life of crime. Their escapade turns desperate when Jerry kidnaps the son of a local businessman. Featuring a climax that is arguably the most powerful ten minutes in any noir ever made.

Screens Saturday, March 14th as part of a 5-film marathon

The Girl With Hyacinths (1950)

Official Synopsis: When beautiful young Dagmar Brink (Eva Henning) commits suicide her neighbors are stunned – especially when her final note leaves them all her possessions, including the enigmatic portrait of Dagmar called “Girl with Hyacinths.” Intrigued, the husband begins an investigation into what could have made the beguiling woman kill herself. Ekman’s greatest film is a slow-building tale of suspense leading to a stunning, unforgettable conclusion. “An absolute masterpiece. Twenty-four carats. Perfect.” – Ingmar Bergman.

Screens Sunday, March 15th

The Spiritualist (1948)

Official Synopsis: A phony medium (Turhan Bey, in a supremely slippery performance) convinces a gullible widow (Lynn Bari) that he can communicate with her late husband. This hugely entertaining thriller (the lighter side of NIGHTMARE ALLEY) is one of the least-seen and under-appreciated of cinematographer John Alton’s many noir masterworks. With Cathy O’Donnell and Richard Carlson.

Screens Sunday, March 15th

In the Palm of Your Hand (1949)

Official Synopsis: Fortune-telling astrologer Jaime Karin (Arturo de Córdova) seduces the widow of a millionaire (Leticia Palma) to bilk her out of the inheritance – only to learn she plotted to murder her late husband. A tense game of cat-and-mouse ensures – but who’s the cat? Noir is rife with charismatic charlatans (NIGHTMARE ALLEY, THE SPIRITUALIST) and IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND stands with the best of them. Director Gavaldón – the Robert Siodmak of Mexican cinema – teams with his stars and stupendous cinematographer Alex Phillips to create the greatest film noir ever made in Mexico.

Screens Sunday, March 15th

Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

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