Billing itself (with more than a little justification, too) as "the world's most popular film noir festival," Noir City opens today in San Francisco and runs through January 29. The star of this tenth edition, as Matt Sussman notes in his overview for the Bay Guardian, will be "Angie Dickinson, who will be feted and interviewed in person at a double bill of two of her best: The Killers (1964) and Point Blank (1967). Whereas Ava Gardner simmered her way through Robert Siodmak's 1946 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story, the temperature of Dickinson's Killers mob girl is harder to take in Don Siegel's remarkably brutal remake: a Monroe in harsher lines with nothing of the little girl lost about her. So too in Point Blank — which re-teams Dickinson with her Killers costar Lee Marvin — does she put up a good fight, even as she brandishes her sexuality like a semi-automatic."
Michael Guillén's not only got a Dickinson roundup but also a collection of autographed photos and a gallery of posters for The Killers and Point Blank.
The other star of this year's edition is Dashiell Hammett. "In fact," writes G Allen Johnson in the Chronicle, "the closing day is all-Hammett, all the time. Six films either written by Hammett or based on his writings will be shown, including the original Maltese Falcon from 1931." John Huston's 1941 version will be screened as well. At any rate, Johnson's met festival founder Eddie Muller in the apartment where Hammett lived in 20s: "Here, at 891 Post St, Hammett, a struggling writer who worked at Samuel's Jewelers on Market Street, wrote his first three novels: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse and, of course, The Maltese Falcon, in which Sam Spade's living quarters and office in the novel was based on Hammett's apartment." Which Muller and Noir City festival announcer Bill Arney are in the process of renovating.
For Fandor, Beth Lisick talks with Muller as well and finds him to be an adamant advocate of preservation — naturally, but rather than digital restoration, he insists, "If it was made on film, it should continue to exist on film" — and this year, the festival's saved Jean Negulesco's Three Strangers (1946): "It's a totally grassroots thing. Let's get 1,200 people to pay $25 each; knock out the cost of the theater rental. That's a print of a film. I can see: We paid for this. When we show this film Three Strangers on the 28th of January, it's like a calculator in my head. We've paid for this print. In this one day. Then it resides at UCLA forevermore, we hope."
San Francisco Sentinel editor Sean Martinfield talks with Muller, too.
Update, 1/27: Brian Darr opens a dispatch from the festival at Hell on Frisco Bay: "A pre-code exposé of municipal corruption. A 1964 made-for-television remake of a Robert Siodmak classic. An Antonioni-esque meditation on the futility of vengeance in a corporate-controlled culture. A glossy, multiple-Oscar-nominated whodunit with intense Freudian undercurrents and a relatively happy ending. A career-defining vehicle for the biggest star at Columbia Pictures, Rita Hayworth. A pair of out-and-out comedies. A Technicolor, Cinemascope interracial romance shot on location in post-Macarthur Japan. For those who hear the term film noir and immediately think of low-budget, fatalistic B-movies like Detour and D.O.A., none of my above descriptions (which I trust no-one will find too distorting) make the films they describe sound like they'd play at a film festival devoted to noir. Yet Afraid To Talk, The Killers, Point Blank, Laura, Gilda, Unfaithfully Yours, The Good Humor Man and House of Bamboo are all among the films seen so far this week by attendees of the tenth edition of Noir City at the Castro Theatre."
Update, 1/29: Michael Toole talks with Muller for Film International.