Elliot Lavine, the film programmer and curator of the more intriguing arcane corners of the cinema, has dug into the archives once again for another edition of I Wake Up Dreaming 2012--The French Have a Name For It! This event begins on Friday at San Francisco's Roxie Theater, offering up 14 days and 30 films reveling in life on the shady side of the street from May 11-24. Several of the films slated for the event are Film Noir classics that are only rarely screened in revival, (The Big Combo, In a Lonely Place, Detour, He Walked By Night) and others deserve to be much more widely known (Hollow Triumph, aka The Scar, Une Si Jolie Petite Plage, The Pretender, The Underworld Story). Many of the scheduled movies are also being shown as 35mm studio archive prints and The Big Combo is being shown from a restored 35mm print from the UCLA Film Archives.
Still other movies are so obscure (and so amusing-sounding) that they arouse my curiosity, particularly Highway 13 (1948), with a poster that seems to promise the sight of beloved, elderly character actors Clem Bevans and Mary Gordon going rogue! The I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948), based on a Cornell Woolrich tale, comes along with a legendary pedigree as one of the more memorable poverty row noirs, along with When Strangers Marry (1944), offering Dean Jagger as a mysterious bridegroom. There is even one of director Ed Wood's even more obscure efforts Mamie Van Doren wreaking havoc and Pat O'Brien looking bleary-eyed but talking tough. All in all, I wish I could offer all readers a flight to SF for this event, but if you are like me, and enjoy sometimes being an armchair explorer of compelling movies, you can add several of these movies to your future wish list. In the mean time, you might enjoy these two recent pieces on Elliot's role in unearthing new celluloid worlds to explore.
'I Wake Up Dreaming 2012' by Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle, May 6, 2012.
Below is the Full Schedule with descriptions provided by the Roxie (Click on dates for tickets)
Friday, May 11:
THE BIG COMBO
A sadistic crime boss mixes it up with a hard-nosed cop in a nerve-wracking tale of obsession and revenge. Coming nearly at the end of the noir cycle, this seminal film is a stylish blend of traditional noir themes and images with an increasing tendency toward modern violence and brutality. It doesn't hurt either that John Alton, the premier noir cinematographer shot it, providing us all with further incontrovertible evidence of his mastery of light and shadow. Ripe with homoerotic undertones, unsettling and ultimately exhilarating, THE BIG COMBO reigns as one of noir's most staggering achievements! Starring Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Jean Wallace, Brian Donlevy, Helen Walker, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman. Photographed by John Alton. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis. In B&W. Restored 35mm Print courtesy of the UCLA Film Archives. 89 mins. 1955. FRIDAY at 8:00 and 11:30 pm late show!
HOLLOW TRIUMPH (aka THE SCAR)
6:10 and 9:45.
NOTE: This film is replacing I, THE JURY which has unexpectedly become unavailable to us.
Saturday, May 12:
KNOCK ON ANY DOOR
Within a few short years of making this, his second feature, Nicholas Ray would establish himself as a cinematic master with films like IN A LONELY PLACE (see Saturday, May 19), ON DANGEROUS GROUND, JOHNNY GUITAR, and REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. KNOCK ON ANY DOOR lands the director firmly in noir territory, enabling him to introduce themes and images that would come to define his work. A cynical criminal lawyer is hired to defend a young punk in a cop killing. As the punk, young John Derek gave birth to the oft-quoted line, "Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse." Starring Humphrey Bogart, John Derek, George Macready, Allene Roberts. Photographed by estimable Burnett Guffey. Directed by Nicholas Ray. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 100 mins. 1949. SAT at 4:00 and 8:00
EDGE OF DOOM
Against the pitiful backdrop of a poverty-ridden slum, a young man plagued by guilt and frustration, is driven to senselessly murder a priest. With the cops closing in and his world about to go down in flames, it would appear that nothing on earth can save him. A relentlessly honest picture of the hopelessly marginalized, this excruciatingly downbeat film was completely rejected by audiences and critics alike when first released. Time has managed to diminish the negativity and today EDGE OF DOOM is seen as one of the most potent noir films of its decade---as well as one of the most radically irreligious. Starring Dana Andrews, Farley Granger, Joan Evans, Paul Stewart, Mala Powers. Photographed by Harry Stradling. Directed by Mark Robson. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 99 mins. 1950. SAT at 2:00, 6:00, and 10:00
Sunday, May 13:
UNE SI JOLIE PETITE PLAGE (Such A Pretty Little Beach)
The absolute ultimate in Poverty Row perfection and a stone cold classic noir. Al Roberts is an out-of-work piano player who hitchhikes from New York to L.A. to be with his girl. What he finds instead out on that lonely stretch of California highway is Vera, a consumptive predator who feeds on chumps like Roberts. A film worth revisiting countless times, lest its lessons go unlearned. "Yes. Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all." 'Nuff said. Starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Edmund MacDonald. Photographed by Benjamin Kline. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL from a 35mm print. 69 mins. 1945. Shown with the half-hour TV noir episode "The Red Dress" starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage! 1952. SUN at 4:45 and 9:45
Back by popular demand; this Poverty Row stunner was one of the sensations of our 2009 series! A visually dazzling picture about A corrupt financier arranges for the murder of his romantic rival only to have the deadly circumstances of his crime hurtle him into a black vortex of fear! A visually dazzling and boldly experimental film, it mixes equal measures of suspense and the supernatural---it was one of the first Hollywood films to feature a theramin-dominated score, courtesy of Paul Dessau! A nocturnal gem from Billy Wilder's unjustly lesser-known older brother, photographed to the hilt by the phenomenal John Alton! Starring Albert Dekker, Catherine Craig, Linda Stirling. Directed by W. Lee Wilder. In B&W. 16mm print. 69 mins. 1947. SUN at 1:30 and 6:30
Monday, May 14:
RETURN OF THE WHISTLER
A young man and his lovely French fiancé are thrown into a bizarre world of intrigue one stormy night when their car breaks down by a dilapidated inn. The evil that lies within will send them in a direction they could have never anticipated. The eighth and final Whistler film (and the only one not to feature Richard Dix, who had died the year before) is a moody swan song, a complex mystery with typically sinister implications. From a story by Cornell Woolrich. Starring Michael Duane, Lenore Aubert, Richard Lane, Ann Doran. Photographed by Philip Tannura. Directed by D. Ross Lederman. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 60 mins. 1948. (Note: this film was not included in our 2010 retrospective of Whistler films.) MON at 8:00 only!
THE STRANGE MR. GREGORY
A famous but demented magician devises a diabolical plan to murder the husband of the woman he obsessively covets. Mesmerization, murder, and suspended animation all play into this kinky mix. Intensely erotic and nearly totally unknown, this truly is a thoroughly outré Poverty Row sleeper! Starring Edmond Lowe, Jean Rogers, Donald Douglas, Frank Reicher. Photographed by Ira Morgan. Directed by Phil Rosen. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 63 mins. 1945. MON at 6:40 and 9:20
Tuesday, May 15:
THE DEVIL'S HENCHMAN
Things aren't always what they seem in this swiftly-moving, stylishly atmospheric mystery drama. A crafty insurance agent risks his life when he masquerades as a merchant seamen in order to crack a deadly ring of waterfront thieves. Another rarely seen Columbia B noir that has spent the last sixty years or so languishing in the vaults. Starring Warner Baxter, Mary Beth Hughes, Mike Mazurki, Regis Toomey. Photographed by Henry Freulich. Directed by Seymour Friedman. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 68 mins. 1949. TUE at 8:00 only!
A trucker becomes the prime suspect when a series of suspicious "accidents" begin to plague his company. Treachery and murder loom large in this top-notch Poverty Row noir thriller, loaded with semi-recognizable stars and character players: the perfect B noir for a Tuesday night! Starring Robert Lowery, Pamela Blake, Clem Bevans, Lyle Talbot, Maris Wrixon. Photographed by Carl Berger. Directed by William Berke. In B&W. 16mm print. 58 mins. 1948. TUE at 6:40 and 9:30
Wednesday, May 16:
STORM OVER LISBON
If you've ever wondered what CASABLANCA might have been like had it been produced on Poverty Row with actors of questionable appeal then this film might be just for you. If you've ever wondered what CASABLANCA might have looked like if John Alton had photographed it, then this film is DEFINITELY for you! World War II romantic intrigue set in a nightclub in neutral Portugal provides an ideal palette for Alton's breathtaking handiwork. Starring Vera Ralston, Erich von Stroheim, Richard Arlen, Robert Livingston, Eduardo Ciannelli, Mona Barrie, Otto Kruger. Directed by George Sherman. In B&W. 16mm print. 70 mins. 1944. WED at 8:00 only!
SHADOW OF TERROR
Leave it to PRC, the runt of the poverty-row litter, to be the first Hollywood studio out of the gate ("ripped from today's headlines") with a film exploiting the just-detonated atomic bomb. This instantly produced picture, a domestic spy thriller, was able to hastily graft government footage from the New Mexico atomic test blasts into the finale and slip itself into theaters just days after American planes bombed Hiroshima. A genuine noir oddity! Starring Richard Fraser, Grace Albertson, Cy Kendall. Photographed by Jack Greenhalgh. Directed by Lew Landers. In B&W. 16mm print. 60 mins. 1945. WED at 6:40 and 9:35
Thursday, May 17:
WHEN STRANGERS MARRY
A masterpiece of macabre menace and one of Poverty Row's most revered B noirs! A young bride, newly arrived in New York, gradually begins to believe her oddly elusive husband might be a homicidal maniac. The bride's former suitor turns up to complicate the picture. Profoundly expressive filmmaking from a director who would someday become legendary. Not to be missed on the big screen! Starring Kim Hunter, Robert Mitchum, Dean Jagger, Neil Hamilton. Music composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. Photographed by Ira Morgan. Directed by William Castle. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 67 mins. 1944. THURS at 7:30 and 10:30
I WOULDN'T BE IN YOUR SHOES
Ultra-rare B noir from the poison pen of Cornell Woolrich! Through a series of seemingly improbable coincidences, an innocent man winds up on Death Row. Will his beautiful and devoted young wife be able to find out the truth before it's too late? Not necessarily: this is film noir! A must-see curio from the subterranean depths of Hollywood's Poverty Row! Starring Don Castle, Elyse Knox, Regis Toomey, Bill Kennedy. Photographed by Mack Stengler. Directed by William Nigh. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 70 mins. 1948. THURS at 6:00, 9:00
Friday, May 18:
A remarkable, no-budget early feature from Stanley Kubrick and loaded to the gills with enough cinematic bravado to fill a dozen MGM epics. A young prize-fighter becomes entwined in the lives of a dance-hall girl and her violent gangster boyfriend. The director's emphasis is on mood and place, and he fills the screen with an incredible abundance of cinematic energy. Wicked and unforgettable on the big screen! Starring Frank Silvera, Jamie Smith, Irene Kane. Music composed by Gerald Fried. Photographed and directed by Stanley Kubrick. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 67 mins. 1955. FRI at 8:00 and 11:00 pm
Ridiculously rare and obscure, this unjustly ignored low-budget film may well be the sleeper sensation of the entire series! After blacking out, an alcoholic cop now can't be certain that he himself is not the one who strangled the sexy Hollywood starlet to death. Dripping with doom and despair, it is the very distillation of noir. Don't let anything stop you from seeing this maudit masterpiece! Starring Lawrence Tierney, Jayne Mansfield, John Carradine, Burt Kaiser, Kathleen Crowley. Photographed by Elwood "Woody" Bredell. Directed by Bruno VeSota. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 73 mins. 1956. FRI at 6:20 and 9:30
Saturday, May 19:
IN A LONELY PLACE
A Hollywood screenwriter with an explosively violent temper becomes a murder suspect when the hatcheck girl he spends time with one night later turns up murdered. Will this put a damper on the newly developing romance he's about to begin with his beautiful new neighbor? And what about that explosively violent temper? An erotically-charged classic from Hollywood's premier director of provocative adult entertainment! Starring Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Jeff Donnell, Art Smith. Music by George Antheil. Photographed by Burnett Guffey. Directed by Nicholas Ray. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 91 mins. 1950. SAT at 4:00 and 8:00
An amnesiac escapes from an asylum for the criminally insane bent on finding out if he did in fact murder the woman he loved! His search begins to reveal facts that are nevertheless disturbing. Conspicuously arty, it offers a slice of Hollywood, off-kilter and unusually absorbing. A one-of-a-kind noir melodrama with fascinating performances from the leads. Starring John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge, James Barton, Emlyn Williams. Photographed by Frank (Franz) Planer. Directed by Ewald Andre Dupont. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 93 mins. 1951. SAT at 2:00, 6:00 and 10:00
Sunday, May 20:
CHINATOWN AT MIDNIGHT
A dangerous nest of thieves headed up by a tough doll picks up unwanted heat when her trigger-happy partner, a smooth psychotic, leaves behind a bloody trail of victims and a bunch of baffled San Francisco cops. Exciting and atmospheric, this rarely screened B noir is high on everyone's must-see list! Starring Hurd Hatfield, Jean Willes, Tom Powers. Photographed Henry Freulich. Directed by Seymour Friedman. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 67 mins. 1949. SUN at 3:45 and 8:00
SO DARK THE NIGHT
A noted Parisian detective vacationing in lovely St. Margo becomes involved in the investigation of a string of local murders. Memorable touches on a small scale highlight this mordantly twisted tale of passion under darkly sunny French skies. From the amazingly talented director of GUN CRAZY and THE BIG COMBO (see Friday, May 11). Starring Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel, Eugene Borden. Photographed by Burnett Guffey. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 65 mins. 1946. SUN at 2:20 and 6:40
The haunting story of an artist and puppeteer who, after painting the portraits of beautiful women, strangles them to death. Tortured by this hideous compulsion and powerless to do anything about it, the problem becomes more complicated when he falls in love with the young seamstress who seems fated to become his next victim. A dazzling Poverty Row jewel from the Master of Maudit: Edgar G. Ulmer. Starring John Carradine, Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Teala Loring. Photographed by Eugen Schufftan (uncredited). Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 70 mins. 1944. SUN at 5:15 and 9:30
Monday, May 21:
DEADLINE FOR MURDER
A razor-sharp B noir thriller from Poverty Row! Intrigue mixes with murder as a cop and a rakish private detective try to sort out the deadly details of an ingenious international crime spree before violence strikes again! Starring Paul Kelly, Kent Taylor, Sheila Ryan, Jerome Cowan. Photographed by Benjamin Kline. Directed by James Tinling. In B&W. 16mm print. 65 mins. 1946. MON at 8:00 only!
SHOOT TO KILL
A dizzying array of flashbacks helps unravel the story of the beautiful wife of a crooked DA and of the desperate gangster she's fallen in love with. Lightning-paced hijinks in a Poverty Row thrill-fest of the highest order! Starring Russell Wade, Luana Walters, Edmund MacDonald. Photographed by Benjamin Kline. Directed by William Berke. In B&W. 16mm print. 64 mins. 1947. MON at 6:40 and 9:30
Tuesday, May 22:
THE SINISTER URGE
The final masterpiece from one of the truly genuine American cinema auteurs: Edward D. Wood, Jr.!! Someone is raping and murdering pretty girls in the park and the local cops don't have a clue how to crack the case. Seems that these horrible sex crimes just might be tied into the smut racket that has the city paralyzed! With customary weirdness, this indescribably odd film offers a mind-boggling array of Wood-ness, including a cameo by the director as an undercover cop in drag. You dare not miss this! Starring Kenne Duncan, Duke Moore, Jean Fontaine, Carl Anthony. Photographed by William C. Thompson. Written and directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 70 mins. 1960. Presented and introduced by JOHNNY LEGEND! TUES at 8:00 only!
GIRL ON THE RUN
Ultra-cheap independently produced sleaze-fest with the cops investigating a murder at a run-down burlesque theater. Despite the utter cheapness of this tawdry film, it generates a lot of excitement, both for its realistic skid-row location shooting and the dozens of barely-clad dames who wiggle their way through it. A one-of-a-kind rarity! Starring Richard Coogan, Rosemary Pettit, Frank Albertson. Directed by Arthur J. Beckhard and Joseph Lee. In B&W. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 63 mins. 1953. TUES at 6:35 and 9:35
Wednesday, May 23:
THE UNDERWORLD STORY
A disgraced newspaper reporter leaves town after his dealings with a noted gangster are revealed. Away from the big city he latches onto the local paper in a small town where a shocking murder has taken place. But the aftermath of this tragic crime is even more shocking once the reporter takes control of the paper! From the director of the controversial film TRY AND GET ME, this is a similarly gutsy noir. The director would soon become a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist. Starring Dan Duryea, Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, Howard DaSilva (also blacklisted), Michael O'Shea, Gar Moore. Photographed by Stanley Cortez. Directed by Cy Endfield. In B&W. 91 mins. Presented in high quality DIGITAL. 1950. WED at 8:00 only!
HE WALKED BY NIGHT
B noir classic! A brilliant but demented killer sets off a city-wide panic when his botched getaway leaves a cop lying dead in the street. This desperate killer leads the police to the very bowels of downtown Los Angeles in search of their psychotic prey. Featuring some of cinematographer John Alton's most astonishing noir images, it's a stone-cold marvel on the big screen. Starring Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, Jack Webb. Photographed by John Alton. Directed by Alfred Werker and (uncredited) Anthony Mann. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 79 mins. 1948. WED at 6:20 and 9:45
Thursday, May 24:
GUNS, GIRLS, AND GANGSTERS
Sex and violence join forces in a wildly entertaining crime noir from one of the bona fide Kings of the Bs---Edward L. Cahn! This astonishing rarity finds a gang of thieves about to pull off a million dollar Vegas casino heist. Problem is: two of these killers have their eye on the same dame---and she's played by sex bomb Mamie Van Doren! Unseen in theaters for over fifty years! Starring along with Mamie are Gerald Mohr, Lee Van Cleef, Grant Richards. Photographed by Kenneth Peach. Directed by Edward L. Cahn. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 70 mins. 1959. THURS at 6:30 and 9:45.
It's a Showdown in Motown as the corrupt former head of a local Detroit auto union tries to bust up the efforts of his successor in an attempt to regain control of his empire. Fast-paced and violent, it represents one of the last attempts on the part of Hollywood to exploit the criminal elements of America's big cities. Rip roaring action from a gang of seasoned pros! Starring Dennis O'Keefe, Pat O'Brien, Tina Carver, Mark Damon. Photographed by Henry Freulich. Directed by Fred F. Sears. In B&W. 35mm Studio Archive Print. 82 mins. 1956. THURS at 8:00 only!
THE ROXIE ACKNOWLEDGES WITH GREAT APPRECIATION THE ASSISTANCE OF CHRIS LANE with SONY PICTURES, CHRIS CHOUINARD with Park Circus, and Steven Hill & Todd Weiner with the UCLA FILM ARCHIVES as well as the incomparable contributions of Paul Meienberg and Johnny Legend. A special tip o' the Roxie skullcap to Owen Field, Bob Ottoson and Don Malcolm.
More can be seen at www.roxie.com. The Roxie Theater is located at 3117 16th St., S.F. California.
Ph: (415) 863-1087.