Wednesday • January 24, 2024 DOUBLE FEATURE
Director Cornfield came to Hollywood in the 1950s with New York pal Stanley Kubrick, and, with his third feature, Cornfield was consciously competing with his colleague's breakthrough heist film, The Killing. From its thrilling opening, in which a crew of hooded robbers steal a huge load of gold bullion from a train during a driving rainstorm, the film never stops moving—smashing its way down the widescreen interstate as gang-leader Gene Raymond and his truck-driving cohorts (including Elisha Cook Jr.) desperately try to abscond with the score of a lifetime.
UNITED STATES (1957) Dir. Hubert Cornfield. 72 min.
HARDLY A CRIMINAL / APENAS UN DELINCUENTE
The best Argentine noir of the 1940s is an audacious blending of Naked City and Brute Force, telling the tale of a clever banking clerk (charismatic Jorge Salcedo) who embezzles money from his employer and tries to get caught, since a loophole in the Argentine justice system will free him after six years behind bars—when he intends to reclaim the hidden loot. Part caper, part prison picture, this acclaimed drama earned Argentine director Fregonese a career in Hollywood. 35mm preservation print courtesy of the Film Noir Foundation. In Spanish with English subtitles
ARGENTINA (1949) Dir. Hugo Fregonese. 88 min.
Thursday • January 25DOUBLE FEATURE
WITHOUT PITY / SENZA PIETÀ
A combination of neorealism and noir that never could have been made in the U.S. African-American GI John Kitzmiller stars as a U.S. soldier in Italy awaiting demobilization whose kindness towards local working girl (Carla Del Poggio) leads to an unexpected romance. Lauded at international festivals, its interracial romance prevented wide distribution in the United States. Script by Federico Fellini, featuring the screen debut of his muse, Giulietta Masina. A rare chance to see this neglected landmark in a 35mm print imported from Italy. In Italian with English subtitles
ITALY (1948) Dir. Alberto Lattuada. 90 min.
bitter rice / rISo amaro
Bitter Rice transposes a noir tale of a sleazy homme fatal and the two women he enlists in his criminal schemes onto a neorealist portrait of the mondine, female migrant workers who harvest and plant rice in the Po Valley. A quartet of fabulously attractive leads, including Silvana Mangano and Doris Dowling, flesh out a sensuous blend of social critique and pulpy thrills. Above all, Bitter Rice is a tribute to women's labor, community, and solidarity. With Vittorio Gassman and Raf Vallone. In Italian with English subtitles
ITALY (1949) Giuseppe De Santis. 108 min.
Friday • January 26DOUBLE FEATURE
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
A landmark in the history of crime movies and the progenitor of all heist films that followed. John Huston had provided the script for Raoul Walsh's 1940 film version of author W.R. Burnett's outlaw saga High Sierra and, ten years later, he snapped up Burnett's latest crime novel to direct himself. The film had an immediate and lasting impact on crime movies and literature. It subverted the Production Code by making its criminals working professionals with whom audiences empathized. Vivid and note-perfect.
UNITED STATES (1950) Dir. John Huston. 112 min.
SYMPHONY FOR A MASSACRE / SYMPHONIE POUR UN MASSACRE
Perhaps the ultimate heist double-cross movie. A quintet of Parisian businessmen go in on a drug deal, but one of them has a daring plan to hijack the loot and run off with a comrade’s wife. A start-to-finish nail-biter co-scripted by the controversial José Giovanni (who also costars) and directed by thriller specialist Jacques Deray (La Piscine, A Bigger Splash). In French with English subtitles
FRANCE (1963) Dir. Jacques Deray. 115 min.
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NC 21 poster by Bill Selby