Fall Film Noir 2012

The Women of Film Noir. Innocent or sinister.  Hard-boiled or sweet as pie.  They are one of the reasons these films from half a century ago remain edgy and appealing.  Gilda exudes sensuality and uses it to get what she wants (if only she knew what that was).  Laura’s allure is in the mind of a police detective who is fixated on her portrait, before she became a murder victim.  Veronica Lake’s peek a boo blonde hairstyle was a 40s obsession, inspiring the 90s classic for which Kim Basinger won an Oscar as her shadow. Chinatown’s secrets dog the mysterious Evelyn Mulwray, played by Faye Dunaway in the iconic 70s noir.  Sleep My Love, a recent highlight of the UCLA Festival of Preservation, has a beleaguered socialite, as well as her dark reflection.  The Big Sleep was reshot to highlight the banter between Bogart and Bacall, newly in love on and off screen.  The series will end with the baddest of bad girls, the murderous Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity.  There are so many ways to behave and misbehave in the dark alleys of noir.

Listen to me discuss the Women of Film Noir on WUNC radio's The State of Things

Films will be introduced by NCMA Film Curator Laura Boyes unless noted. Thanks to Brian Block and Caitlin Robertson at Fox, Paul Ginsberg at Universal, Jordan Press at Sony and Todd Weiner at UCLA.

With the exception of the R rated LA Confidential, older children and teens will find the unrated films in the series enriching and challenging. 

Sept 21:

Gilda (1946) Directed by Charles Vidor.  Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready (106 min)

A flame haired temptress creates havoc between her husband, a sadistic casino owner, and her down-on-his-luck, bitter ex-love in Nazi shadowed Buenos Aires.  You can put the blame on Mame. “Like the crazy evil twin of “Casablanca”…A real 1940s Hollywood treat.” (Guardian UK). Film notes for Gilda.

Sept 28:

Laura (1944) Directed by Otto Preminger.  Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson. (88 min).

A hard bitten police detective succumbs to love—unfortunately, the exquisite Laura is already dead.  Her portrait, gowns, perfume, diary and a haunting melody envelop him as he tracks a more murderous obsessive. Says Anderson of Price, “’He’s no good, but he’s what I want.’ Noir in a nutshell” (Anthony Lane The New Yorker). Fox Archive Print. Film notes for Laura.

Oct 5:

This Gun for Hire (1942) Directed by Frank Tuttle.  Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Robert Preston.  (81 min).

A baby faced killer with a soft spot for fluffy kittens crosses paths with a petite prestidigitator, a peppermint nibbling fat man and a cookie dunking cripple. Lake’s iconic peek a boo hairstyle and Ladd’s sang froid riveted a wartime movie going nation in this Graham Greene penned thriller. Universal Archive Print. Film notes for This Gun for Hire.

Oct 12:

Sleep My Love (1948) Directed by Douglas Sirk.  Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, Robert Cummings (96 min).

A Sutton Place socialite wakes up in a train compartment and doesn’t know where she is.  Is she crazy, or is it something more sinister?  A top notch supporting cast includes Keye Luke as the hero’s Chinese best friend and Hazel Brooks as one of the sluttiest bad girls ever.  UCLA Archive Print. Film notes for Sleep My Love.

Oct 19:

Chinatown (1974) Directed by Roman Polanski.  Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Houston. (131 min) PG-13.

A private detective blunders into corruption riddled LA, as a sinister businessman plots to manipulate the city’s water supply.  The 30s is seen through the camera eye of the 70s in this Chandleresque noir, with an Oscar winning screenplay by Robert Towne. 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. “A never-bettered noir masterpiece” (Empire Magazine). Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Devin Orgeron.

Oct 26:

LA Confidential (1997) Directed by Curtis Hanson.  Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce James Cromwell, Kim Basinger. Rated R (138 min).

The conspiratorial whisper of a reporter for Hush Hush magazine leads three cops into City of Angels demon haunted alleys. Crackerjack acting dominates this revisionist take, its authentic roots in gang war history reinacted in real locations.  “A rare and rattling detective story, a brilliant blend of booze, bribes and broads” (Gene Shalit, The Today Show). Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron.

Nov 2:

The Big Sleep (1946) Directed by Howard Hawks.  Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers. (118 min).

Raymond Chandler’s detective Phillip Marlowe is one of noir's defining heroes, “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” Bogart spars with sultry Bacall, with whom he had just fallen in love. “One of the great film noirs, a black and white symphony.” (Roger Ebert). Film Notes for The Big Sleep.

Nov 9:

Double Indemnity (1944) Written and directed by Billy Wilder.  Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson. (106 min).

Insurance salesman Walter Neff doesn’t stand a chance after he catches the glint of Phyllis Dietrichson’s ankle bracelet in the chiaroscuro of her LA hacienda.  She entangles him in a murderous policy payoff plot, their fates now linked “straight down the line.” “Noir’s defining movie.” (The Rough Guide to Film Noir). Universal Archive Print. Film Notes for DI.


All films are shown in 35mm and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm

The galleries and Iris Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members

Series Passes $35/$25 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: ncartmuseum.org