a

Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

September 13 – November 29, 2015

Five O'Clock Shadow

This fall, a dark shadow will be cast across Sunday afternoons by a series of film noir matinees tracing a crooked path through the cycle of fatalistic crime films that flourished in Hollywood during the Forties and Fifties. Sharing the bleak and violent worldview so central to the noir cycle, the twelve films assembled here are largely lesser-known expressions of film noir that nevertheless exemplify the new cinematographic and narrative complexity that noir introduced into the American cinema. Whether in the work of celebrated auteurs such as John Brahm, Anthony Mann, Max Ophüls and Otto Preminger, or lesser-known American filmmakers such as Cy Endfield, Joseph H. Lewis and Paul Wendkos, these films noirs balance their bleak pessimism with a formal daring that remains far ahead of their time.

Special thanks: Todd Wiener, Steve Hill—UCLA Film and Television Archive

Sunday September 13 at 4:30pm

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Directed by Tay Garnett. With Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway
US 1946, 35mm, b/w, 113 min

It took years before Hollywood was brave enough to adapt James M. Cain’s swift and sordid fable of adultery and murderous deceit, and Lucino Visconti was there first with his path-breaking Ossessione (1943). No less important, however, is Tay Garnett’s polished rendition, which gives an Edward Hopper sheen and ominous shadows to the roadside diner, an overdetermined and iconic symbol of Cain’s dark vision of desire and capitalism. John Garfield is the quintessential noir antihero, brimming with raw masculinity yet reduced to trembling flesh by the siren call, and rolling lipstick, of Lana Turner’s doe-eyed femme fatale. Print courtesy of Warner Bros.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday September 20 at 5pm

The Locket

Directed by John Brahm. With Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum, Brian Aherne
US 1946, 35mm, b/w, 85 min

Gothic auteur John Brahm crafted one of the most intricate flashback structures in noir history in this feverish vision of masochistic amour fou. Robert Mitchum is just one of the sacrificial victims strewn along the crooked path toward madness cut by the bewitching and almost childlike Laraine Day. The Locket is an important expression of the current of pop psychoanalysis that runs through post-WWII Hollywood. Print courtesy of Warner Bros.

 

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday September 27 at 5pm

When Strangers Marry

Directed by William Castle. With Robert Mitchum, Kim Hunter, Dean Jagger
US 1944, 16mm, b/w, 67 min

Orson Welles was an avowed fan of William Castle’s B-noir classic, which packs careful suspense and shocking surprise into its taut sixty-seven minute story of a new bride united with the man she may, or may not, have married. When Strangers Marry offered an early role for a radiantly young Kim Hunter, whose wanderings through a haunted city of beckoning signs and darkened rooms suggest a kind of noir “Alice in Underworld.”

 

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday October 4 at 5pm

T-Men

Directed by Anthony Mann. With Dennis O’Keefe, Wallace Ford, Alfred Ryder
US 1947, 16mm, b/w, 92 min

Anthony Mann was a master of the grim and shockingly creative violence that abounds in his police-procedural thriller T-Men. Part of the cycle of “semi-documentary” films that flourished in the late 1940s and early 1950s, T-Men is curiously split between its detached observation of a federal investigation into an international counterfeit ring and its subjectively intense point of view of the Treasury agents playing a deadly, duplicitous game to crack the criminal organization. Print courtesy of the George Eastman House

Browse Other Series from this Season
Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday October 11 at 4:30pm

The Lady in the Lake

Directed by Robert Montgomery. With Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan
US 1947, 35mm, b/w, 105 min

The first film directed by Hollywood star Robert Montgomery was this highly unusual, ahead-of-its-time adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s eponymous detective thriller. Pushing to a radical extreme film noir’s interest in heightened states of subjectivity, The Lady in the Lake is told entirely from a “first person” camera perspective that adopts and steadily holds the point of view of Philip Marlowe, “played” by Montgomery. Frequently mentioned for its technical innovation, The Lady in the Lake is rarely recognized for its taut and richly suspenseful storytelling, which uses Montgomery’s agile camera to carefully exploit the darker shadows of offscreen space. Print courtesy of Warner Bros.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday October 18 at 5pm

Phantom Lady

Directed by Robert Siodmak. With Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis
US 1944, 35mm, b/w, 87 min

The masterpiece of film noir’s consummate artist Robert Siodmak is Phantom Lady, a trance film that launches an oneiric voyage into the underworld led by a resolute (and lovestruck) secretary’s determination to clear the name of her boss who has been framed for murder. The haunting, chiseled beauty of Ella Raines, in the lead role, is only part of the lasting mystery cast by the film and its brilliant use of extreme lighting to render near-empty bars and night streets as the sites of sudden, ominous encounters. Print courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday October 25 at 5pm

The Reckless Moment

Directed by Max Ophüls. With James Mason, Joan Bennett, Geraldine Brooks
US 1949, 35mm, b/w, 82 min

One of two film noirs directed by Austrian émigré Max Ophüls during his brief stay in Hollywood, The Reckless Moment was ostensibly a “woman’s picture,” a fable of a mother’s desperate attempt to shield her daughter from a dangerous Lothario. In Ophüls’ hands, however, the story gives way to a multidimensional portrait of domestic America during the war years and a tender evocation of the loneliness and confusion of the home front. Joan Bennett brings a chipped dignity to the fluttering role of the chain-smoking mother pulled into the dark quicksand by James Mason’s darkly sympathetic blackmailer. Print courtesy of Sony Pictures

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 1 at 5pm

Try and Get Me

Directed by Cy Endfield. With Lloyd Bridges, Frank Lovejoy, Richard Carlson
US 1950, 35mm, b/w, 85 min

Like Fritz Lang’s Fury, Try and Get Me is a potent vision of an America ruled by mob mentality. Unemployed WWII veteran Howard Tyler, desperate to feed his family, falls in with Lloyd Bridges’ coldblooded criminal, but their spree of robberies soon turns to murder. The direction of young Communist Cy Endfield reveals a cool, clear rage at the economic and social injustices that are the nightmare behind the American dream. Shortly after this film, Enfield was blacklisted and spent the rest of his career in England. Bridges’ later career as a television star has obscured what a fine actor he was; here he is believably chilling as both predator and victim. Print courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 8 at 5pm

Act of Violence

Directed by Fred Zinnemann. With Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh
US 1948, 35mm, b/w, 82 min

Robert Ryan is a dark, avenging angel hiding his clipped wings and pistol in his grimy trench coat in Fred Zinnemann’s fable of sunshine and noir set in a Los Angeles divided between bright new suburban developments and dingy, flophouse downtown. Van Heflin is the target of Ryan’s vengeful mission, a stammering real estate developer who hides a dark secret beneath his proud boostering of progress and prosperity. A little-known early work in Zinnemann’s career, Act of Violence offers a revealing critique of the sudden changes transforming and uprooting postwar USA. Print courtesy of MGM.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 15 at 5pm

Angel Face

Directed by Otto Preminger. With Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Mona Freeman
US 1953, 35mm, b/w, 91 min

Equally a fairy tale and a film noir, Otto Preminger’s Angel Face finds world-weary ambulance driver Robert Mitchum falling dangerously for Jean Simmons’ raven-haired princess high on a hill in a Beverly Hills castle. The young woman’s treacherous designs are clear to everyone, including Mitchum, who nevertheless seems powerless to break the spell. Herbert Marshall, as the exiled, wounded patriarch, is a figure of Old World aristocracy that Austrian exile Preminger seems to both cherish and caustically dismiss.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 22 at 5pm

The Big Combo

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis. With Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy
US 1955, 35mm, b/w, 84 min

One of the last great films of B-maestro Joseph H. Lewis (My Name is Julia Ross, Gun Crazy) and cinematographic genius John Alton, The Big Combo is a visually dazzling black-and-white fantasy of desire and vengeance, starring Cornel Wilde as a police detective hopelessly in love with the ice-blonde moll of Richard Conte’s deadly gang leader. The Big Combo is equally Alton’s film as he paints with light and shadow to render Lewis’ minimal sets as Expressionist dreamscapes, using his creative lighting and camerawork to stage a brilliant and iconoclastic reinvention of Casablanca’s closing airport sequence.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday November 29 at 5pm

The Burglar

Directed by Paul Wendkos. With Dan Duryea, Jayne Mansfield, Martha Vickers
US 1957, 35mm, b/w, 90 min

Fifties sex goddess Jayne Mansfield is the unwieldy object of desire, and deceit, in Paul Wendkos’ unusual and Orson Welles-inspired adaptation of hardboiled crime writer David Goodis’ eponymous thriller. Dan Duryea trembles with sweaty intensity as The Burglar, designing his most elaborate heist to rob a spiritualist of her famed jewels. A late, baroque film noir, The Burglar was the only film realized with an original screenplay by cult writer Goodis, who set the film firmly in the same Philadelphia neighborhoods from which he rarely wandered. Print courtesy of Swank Films.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700