Film noir has proven to be exceedingly popular with Vancouver audiences. Cinematheque, one of our two downtown art-house theatres (the other is Vancity), has an annual tradition of showing some of the best, darkest and/or most obscure gems that fit under that label, usually from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. This year is no different, as the series offers a respite from the hot, sunny August weather in a dark, cool theatre, where audiences can watch men and women plot and scheme against each other.
This year’s selection includes a special long weekend triple bill, featuring The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce on Sunday, Aug. 3.
Those three movies also screen on different dates throughout the month. Other well-known films that are part of the series include The Postman Always Rings Twice (the 1946 version with John Garfield and Lana Turner), The Lady from Shanghai (1948, directed by and starring Orson Welles), and Leave Her to Heaven (starring Gene Tierney as an evil socialite).
Where the program gets really interesting is in the more obscure gems that Cinematheque has dug up. These include Cry of the City (1948), starring Victor Mature as a cop facing off against a wounded cop-killer in Manhattan. The twist: the two are boyhood pals. Shelley Winters co-stars.
In William Wyler’s Detective Story (1951), Kirk Douglas is a fanatical lawman who goes over the edge when he discovers his wife isn’t as snow-white as he’d thought. Niagara (1953) gives us Marilyn Monroe as a conniving sexpot, working opposite Joseph Cotton as her jealous, older husband.
All you really need to know about Gun Crazy (1949) is its alternative title: Deadly is the Female. The Cinematheque is presenting a newly restored version of the b-movie, widely regarded as a film-noir classic and an acknowledged influence on the French New Wave.
For a change of scenery, check out House of Bamboo, directed by Samuel Fuller in Japan and starring Robert Stack as an undercover military cop. And in So Dark the Night (1948), directed by Gun Crazy’s Joseph H. Lewis, a Parisian detective gets tangled up in murder while on vacation in the French countryside.
Cinematheque is located at 1131 Howe St. For tickets and showtimes, visit theCinematheque.ca.