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A nested summer-fall explosion of noir
BUT LET'S JUST START WITH AUGUST, SHALL WE?
WE’VE been away for awhile, waiting for the summer to arrive in order to announce our follow-up efforts to our OTHER SIDE OF THE LOST CONTINENT ‘23 series—and I know I speak for Phoebe Green when we send copious thanks to you all for your rapturous response to our 18-film offering back in April.
But the summer is here, and time somehow grows shorter when the days are longer. (That’s because the first day of summer is actually the longest day of the year; as we continue on with warmer-weather activities, time for significant things slowly but inexorably shrinks, if only because there is so much more to do.)
DESPITE that paradox, we’re going to show movies in August, the pivotal month of summer. And we’re going to do it in two venues—the Roxie, where we’ve focused mostly on lost French film, and now the re-opened/revived 4-Star Theatre in the Richmond District, where we will do something that no one has done before.
Over the course of the summer and fall (ending in early December), little old Midcentury Productions will roll out 44 films. More of these than usual will be films seen on American movie screens more recently than fifty or sixty years ago, but we have some other fish to fry with what we’re doing.
IN August, we switch things up and return to a series we’ve done at the Roxie prior to the pandemic (and that malady called Trump…) that raised the stakes in the examination of international film noir in the post-WWII era. These shows, A RARE NOIR IS GOOD TO FIND #1 (from May 2015) and #2 (from May 2017), showcased 27 noirs from around the world (with only two of them being from France, our trademark foreign noir location).
NOIR CITY 2020 just happened to show six of these films as part of their second excursion into foreign noir. It’s possible that something similar may happen again sometime in the future…we’ll see.
AND the material we have prepared for A RARE NOIR IS GOOD TO FIND 3 will blast us into a familiar world that offers us a more desperate, hungry, blown-out take on the genre. We’ll travel from Japan to Norway; then slash through the Latin circuit (Mexico-Brazil-Spain-Italy) and on to Greece, while also sampling noirs from Germany and Austria. And there are still many more to rediscover (or, as we’ll see below, to discover for the very first time on an American movie screen).
It’s a total of 13 films that will play over three days and nights in the Roxie screening room, spread across two weekends (the Saturday-Sunday weekend of August 12-13, and on Sunday in the subsequent weekend, August 20).
You can see the titles and the times in the image below. But how many of you recognize the actor depicted above? He will make two appearances in RARE NOIR 3, in wildly different roles. (I’d make a contest out of it, except that we give away his name in what you see below!)
I’LL be covering the films in greater depth over the next few weeks, but one of the most striking things about this lineup is just how many of these films have yet to be screened in America…EVER. Of course, MCP’s reputation stems from just this aspect, but with RARE NOIR 3 it certainly appears that we’ve outdone ourselves. As the next image will demonstrate, a total of nine films out of the thirteen in our schedule are ones that have not had an American theatrical premiere. A tenth film, Japan’s CASH CALLS HELL, had its first American screening with us at RARE NOIR 2 in 2017.
And our closing film, a reprise of the epic Brazilian “favela noir” ASSAULT ON THE PAY TRAIN, had its first American screening in fifty years with us back in 2015.
SOME familiar faces are here: you’ll see the eternally underrated Raf Vallone as a sociopathic perfume salesman whose obsession with his friend’s wife leads to some dark, dastardly doings in EYES LEAVE TRACES. And the fiery, exotic Ninon Sevilla, one of the icons of Mexico’s cabaretara film, lives up to her legendary reputation in AVENTURERA.
AND of course the man on our promo postcard is Tatsuya Nakadai (one of Criterion' Films host Imogen Smith’s favorite actors; ours too!), who will help make Sunday August 20th one of the most memorable “marathon days” in the now-legendary MCP tradition.
We’ll save more hype for subsequent posts, where we’ll cover the films in greater detail.
NOW let’s shift to something completely different, yet strangely familiar. It’s an idea that’s been percolating for years: how to present “la difference” between American noir and French noir without succumbing to the prevailing clichés that surround that comparison? Thanks to the folks at the 4-Star Theater, we’ll bring you three 6-film installments during the second half of 2023, where we collide the two national cinemas for the purpose of digging into the true nature of “la difference.”
We call it FRANCO-AMERICAN NOIR…
The first of these 6-film forays, designed as three double features, is nested in front of the second weekend of RARE NOIR. The films play at the 4-Star Friday evening, August 18, with a day/night “doubleheader” following on Saturday, August 19. Well-known or otherwise notable American noirs are teamed with MCP’s choices from its deep reservoir of French noir rarities, programmed with devilishly loving care. Here’s the poster with all of the requisite details…
AS those who’ve attended FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT festivals, many of you know that the French have a subtler approach to the femme fatale/woman-in-distress opposition than what we mostly see in American noir. That was one of the major considerations in compiling an initial troika of double features for such a series; these issues just really aren’t given such a focus in programming elsewhere…which is a situation that is clearly in need of a remedy.
Naturally, I’m very excited to be able to bring this show to the 4-Star in the hopes that some of you readers out there who’ve yet to return to our events will find such an approach as “simply irresistible” as we think it is.
ALL of this makes for a very busy couple of weekends in August, and here’s hoping we’ve reached all of you in time so that you can calibrate your summer plans to join us at these two venues to keep the flame of (re-)discovery alive.
To sum up: three days/nights at the Roxie for RARE NOIR 3 (August 12-13-20); three double-features at the 4-Star for FRANCO-AMERICAN NOIR (August 18-19).
Look for more info about festival passes for RARE NOIR 3 (at the Roxie, remember!) and ticketing arrangements for the 4-Star events in upcoming posts, along with additional details regarding our high quotient of “ridiculously rare” foreign noirs that will be coming your way soon. In so many ways, these are once-in-a-lifetime events: we very much hope that you’ll share them with us. Until next time: a bientot.