Escape the August sun with these dark and steamy cinematic thrillers

After 10 years out of circulation, Out of the Past returns to Cinematheque’s Film Noir summer series.

Every summer, Vancouver’s downtown arthouse cinema celebrates the golden age of film noir.

This year, the Cinematheque’s (1131 Howe St.) Film Noir series includes a movie regarded by fans of the genre as one of the best. Out of the Past stars Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer. Directed by French filmmaker Jacques Tourneur, the 1947 film has been out of Canadian circulation for a decade due to rights issues. Two other rarely seen films made by the same studio, Macao and Crossfire, are also in this year’s lineup.

There are a number of other films, along with some early work by Swedish filmmaker (and noir fan) Ingmar Bergman, screening between Aug. 3-23 (including an Aug. 3 opening night that includes a “courtyard wingding” with entertainment, and showings of Out of the Past and 1949’s Criss Cross).

All told, the Cinematheque’s Film Noir series includes 10 films, plus three as part of its sidebar series, Bergman Noir. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

The Postman Always Rings Twice—The 1946 classic based on John M. Cain’s novel and starring John Garfield and Lana Turner. Remade in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.

My Name is Julia Rose—B-movie director Joseph H. Lewis is best known for his stylish thriller Gun Crazy. My Name is Julia Rose (1945) marks his first foray into film noir. In the film, Nina Foch is the title character, who is hired as live-in secretary to a wealthy English matron (Dame May Whitty). Days later, waking up out of a drugged sleep and finding herself in a remote Cornish mansion, Julia is told that her name is actually Marion and she’s the mentally-ill wife of the matron’s creepy son Ralph (George Macready).

Crossfire—”After a man is murdered while socializing with a group of drunken soldiers, a police detective (Robert Young) and an army sergeant (Mitchum) conduct separate investigations into the crime,” according to thecinematheque.ca. Based on a novel about homophobia, the 1947 movie instead targets anti-Semitism. The B.C.-born director,  Edward Dmytryk, also directed the 1944 noir classic Murder, My Sweet. Shortly after completing Crossfire, he was one of the “Hollywood Ten” blacklisted and jailed during the era’s anti-Communist purges.

Pushover—Fred McMurray (of the seminal noir Double Indemnity, also based on a Cain novel) is the patsy and Kim Novak is the femme fatale in this 1954 drama. “An engrossing and poignant nail-biter … Novak brings a sleek modernity to the noir vixen,” says Steve Eifert of the website Film Noir of the Week.

Kim Novak stars in Pushover with Fred McMurray.

A Ship Bound for India (part of Bergman Noir)—Ingmar Bergman’s third feature centres on a four characters: a cruel salvage-ship captain losing his sight, his neglected wife, their hunchbacked son, and an alluring cabaret performer who precipitates a vicious father-son rivalry. A Ship Bound for India received favourable attention from French critics at Cannes in 1947.

For more info on Cinematheque’s summer offerings, including ticket info and screening times for Film Noir, visit thecinematheque.ca.

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