Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Noir City Northwest: Your Belated Wrap-Up

It was a strange Noir City film festival for yours truly this year, evidenced by the fact that this post comes almost a week after the last screening. For the first time in five years I skipped movies in order to partake in the week’s more social aspects. Someone had to show Eddie Muller and local filmmakers and crime writers like the fabulous Skye Moody around Seattle’s best cocktail bars. (Did someone say Seattle’s best cocktail bars? See below.) Herewith, some parting thoughts as I try to resume my regular schedule.

Last Tuesday was Comedy Noir night. An oxymoron? Not with Unfaithfully Yours (1948) on the bill. Preston Sturges’s gleeful send-up of the form is my favorite of his films. As Muller said, it’s only fitting that the most vicious, mean-spirited movie in the lineup is played for laughs. Rex Harrison is the orchestra conductor who doesn’t want to believe the worst about wife Linda Darnell, but word of her indiscretions keeps reaching him anyway. By the time he takes up his baton his imagination is running riot, and he constructs elaborate revenge fantasies set to and informed by the music of Rossini, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. For some reason the second of these sequences, with Harrison at his fatuous, self-sacrificing best, reduced me to tears this go-round. Seeing the movie on the big screen was a revelation, highlighting Sturges’s glorious long takes as Harrison disastrously tries to implement his plan in the real world. The packed house was howling for the entire second half.

Another advertisement for seeing films in the theater: the audible gasp that greeted the opening frames of Samuel Fuller’s Deluxe Color and Cinemascope House of Bamboo (1955) during Wednesday’s Fuller tribute.

Even though I saw the two titles on the closing night’s Bad Girls bill in San Francisco only a month before, I stuck around to watch Pickup again. Because you can never have enough Beverly Michaels.

I got my marching orders for the next several issues of Noir City, the magazine. Some interesting articles in the pipeline. Stay tuned. In the meantime, swing by the Film Noir Foundation page and make a donation to keep the Noir City caravan rolling along.

Cocktails: The Seattle Circuit

The latest issue of Class Magazine highlights a dozen Seattle cocktail bars, with my home away from home The Zig Zag Café and Canon, the new digs of bartender supreme Murray Stenson, taking top grades. I vouch for many of the others on this list, too.