Killers, thieves and gumshoes – Cinematheque’s Film Noir series is back!

The iconic image from the Coen brothers' Blood Simple.

The iconic image from the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple.

Each year, Vancouver’s premiere arthouse Cinematheque presents a festival of dark shadows, lonely streets, tough guys and tougher dames. This year’s Film Noir festival (Aug. 4-22) includes not only seminal works from the genre’s postwar heyday, but also “neo-noir” selections from the sixties and the eighties, too.

All told, Cinematheque (1131 Howe St) is screening 13 films, nine for the first time. Here are some highlights.

Blood Simple (1984) – Writing of a recent reissue of the 1984 film by Joel and Ethan Coen, AV Club’s Mike D’Angelo said, “any excuse to see the Coens’ magnificently moody neo-noir on the big screen is welcome” and that “It’s a trailblazing masterpiece in any form.” France McDormand, who would go on to become a key player in Coen bros. movies, stars, along with Dan Hedaya.

Point Blank (1967) – The Cinematheque guide calls John Boorman’s thriller “a key link between vintage noir and the great paranoid conspiracy films of the 1970s.” It stars Lee Marvin as a double-crossed hoodlum who seeks revenge on his betrayers. With Angie Dickinson.

Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson in Point Blank.

Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson in Point Blank.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) – Dana Andrews is a brutal New York cop and Gene Tierney is the daughter of the man he tries to frame for the murder of a gangster. Otto Preminger (Laura) directs from a Ben Hecht (HIs Girl Friday) screenplay.

Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in Where the Sidewalk Ends.

The Big Sleep (1946) – A classic by just about any definition, as Howard Hawks directs Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a movie based on a Raymond Chandler novel with a script by William Faulkner. The Cinematheque guide quotes New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael: “The characters are a collection of sophisticated monsters… All of them talk in innuendos, as if that were a new stylization of the American language.”

Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep.

Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep.

The Killers (1946) – A Hemingway short story is the source for this film about an ex-boxer (Burt Lancaster) ready for death, with Ava Gardner as the double-crossing dame who ruins his life. It’s “one of film noir’s defining works – a master class in the criminality, corruption and cynicism of the noir universe,” according to the Cinematheque guide.

Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in The Killers.

Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in The Killers.

For screening times and ticket info visit cinematheque.ca.

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