Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

January chilling at the Castro Theatre


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The Castro Theatre welcomes the New Year with a schedule peppered with films up for award-season honors. The Castro is also home to the annual Noir City festival (Jan. 26-Feb. 4), this year covering films produced between 1941-53. Its highlight is Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant 1943 thriller, the Santa Rosa, CA family murder-mystery "Shadow of a Doubt."

Blade Runner: The Final Cut LA has never felt more desolate than in Ridley Scott's genre-defining sci-fi thriller featuring a solid mid-career Harrison Ford. He's a cynical former cop lured out of retirement on a search-and-destroy mission to rid acid-rain-drenched LA of runaway android slaves. Based on Philip K. Dick's classic novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Co-starring Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos and the music of Vangelis. (1982/2007)

Blade Runner 2049 Kicking off 30 years after the first film's action, blade-runner official K (Ryan Gosling) unearths an astonishing secret that leads him on a quest to find former blade-runner Rick Deckard (Ford), missing for 30 years. Co-starring Robin Wright and Jared Leto in Denis Villeneuve's sequel. (2017) (both 1/12)

Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie's classic gets a hearty reboot from Kenneth Branagh. He directs and stars as detective Hercule Poirot, on the case when a loathsome American (Johnny Depp) is murdered on a trans-European train. The suspects: Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr., and Dame Judi Dench. (2017) (1/15-16)

To Catch a Thief Hitchcock's elegant thriller stars Cary Grant as a reformed cat burglar on the Riviera pursuing Grace Kelly while trying to clear his name after a series of jewel robberies. Boosted by Robert Burke's Oscar-winning cinematography and Edith Head's costumes. (1955)

The Man Who Knew Too Much Hitchcock remade a film from his British period focusing on American tourists James Stewart and Doris Day as they probe international spy business in search of their kidnapped son. Day's rendition of "Que Sera, Sera" won an Oscar. The climax comes at Royal Albert Hall, with a cameo by composer Bernard Herrmann. (1956) (1/17-18)

They Live Horror classic from John Carpenter, with a "Twilight Zone"-style plot about aliens attacking Earth using TV signals. Roddy Piper and Keith David have one of the longest fistfights in screen history. (1988)

Videodrome James Woods is running a sex-and-sleaze cable network when he stumbles across a bizarre broadcast overflowing with sadism and torture. From Canadian director David Cronenberg. Deborah Harry co-stars. (1982) (both 1/19)

The Shape of Water Mexican master storyteller Guillermo del Toro casts an otherworldly spell with this imaginative fable set against the backdrop of 1962 Cold War America. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman, is trapped in a life of lonely isolation, radically upended when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) stumble upon a top-secret classified experiment. The excitement of the classic monster movie merges with film noir. Michael Shannon plays a very dark hand as the film's heavy while veterans Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg fill in the gaps. (2017) (1/22)

Dunkirk Director Christopher Nolan recreates one of WWII's great turning points, with a veteran cast headed up by Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. (2017) (1/24-25)

Noir City 16: Film Noir A to B: 1941-1953 (1/26-2/4)

I Wake Up Screaming LA promoter Frankie Christopher is fingered by the cops for the murder of a model, Vicky Lynn. Frankie fears he's being set up to take the rap, and the only one he can turn to is Vicky's sister Jill. With Betty Grable, Carole Landis, and Victor Mature.

Among the Living In Stuart Heisler's crime thriller, a mentally ill man, a twin, breaks out of isolation. With Albert Dekker, Susan Hayward, and Frances Farmer. (both 1941, 1/26)

This Gun for Hire This Frank Tuttle noir helped launch the career of Alan Ladd. He's a paid hit man seeking revenge on the guy who betrayed him. With Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar and Pamela Blake.

Quiet Please, Murder John Francis Larkin directs George Sanders as a forger who steals rare books then passes off his copies as authentic. With Gail Patrick, Richard Denning and Sidney Blackmer. Not on DVD. (both 1942)

Shadow of a Doubt An early American Hitchcock thriller, set in WWII-era Santa Rosa, CA. Teresa Wright is terrific as a young teen who senses that her favorite Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) is a serial killer specializing in wealthy widows. Note Hitch's use of belching black smoke from a steam locomotive bringing Uncle Charlie into Santa Rosa as a sign that an "innocent" community was being visited by a diabolical evil. Hitchcock shrewdly arranged for then-closeted Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Thornton Wilder to be screenwriter. Wilder brings his New England-bred sensitivity for small-town behavior to bear. In effect Santa Rosa is a West Coast version of Wilder's world. Co-stars Hume Croyn in his screen debut.

Address Unknown William Cameron Menzies directs Paul Lukas as a German-born American resident who returns to his homeland and becomes involved in the Nazi Party. (both 1943; all 4, 1/27)

Destiny Julien Duvivier and Reginald Le Borg dramatize the impact on a young man after he's sent to prison on murder charges. Not on DVD.

Flesh and Fantasy Duvivier's three-part anthology film includes a short drama inspired by an Oscar Wilde story. (both 1944, 1/28)

Conflict Curtis Bernhardt directs Humphrey Bogart in this seldom-seen melodrama about a husband who wants to kill his wife in order to marry her sister. With Sydney Greenstreet and Alexis Smith.

Jealousy Gustav Machaty directs blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's LA-set story. (both 1945, 1/29)

The Blue Dahlia George Marshall directs Alan Ladd in a melodrama from a Raymond Chandler script, about a GI who returns from the war to an unfaithful wife. Super supporting cast includes Veronica Lake, William Bendix, and Howard da Silva.

Night Editor Henry Levin directs this obscure noir named for a radio series of the day. A married police detective has an affair with a lady with a bad reputation, then witnesses a murder. With William Gargan, Janis Carter, and Jeff Donnell. (both 1946, 1/30)

The Unsuspected "Casablanca" creator Michael Curtiz directs Claude Rains in a noir about a radio star involved in murder. With Joan Caufield, Audrey Totter, and Hurd Hatfield, who played Dorian in the 1945 version of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

High Tide John Reinhardt stars Lee Tracy in a drama about a crusading reporter trying to break up a gambling syndicate. With Don Castle, Julie Bishop, and Regis Tommey. (both 1947, 1/31)

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