Blog buddy sfmike, sole author and proprietor of Civic Center, the wonderful website about San Francisco arts and politics, has become a well-known man about town through his blog, and invited me to the second evening of the Noir City Film Festival, a two week celebration of film noir classics now in its seventh year. The films shown at the wonderful Castro Theatre, one of the few art deco palaces is still used for its original purpose of showing fims and not split into two screens or more. Eddie Muller, the founder of the festival, gave Mike a press pass to the event, and he graciously invited me to see Saturday evening's films and have a chance to meet the wonderful Arlene Dahl.
Mr. Muller has done a bang up job of making Noir City an exciting event, and the crowds come out in droves. The lines were long on this chilly January night, but we could get a schedule of the festival handed out to the crowds by junior high aged young girls dressed as newsies shouting "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" Mr. Muller also has had great success in getting the glamourous stars of the films to show up in person, and last night it was Ms. Dahl's turn to get the Noir City treatment. She lives in New York City, where she and her much younger husband (scandalous!) are fixtures in the society page, but she graciously traveled across the country to our humble little hamlet to the delight of her legions of fans. The crowd got to see her both at the intermission and I was lucky enough to be there when her limosine pulled up before the film began and see her make her entrance before an adoring throng. It was a magical Hollywood moment.
Miss Dahl, a classic Nordic beauty, spent much of her career in comedies and musicals, but in the films aired this evening, we saw another, more sinister side to her. The first film was the 1957 drama Wicked As They Come, so as you might guess, Miss Dahl was not playing a cloistered nun. Her character was as beautiful as a priceless ruby but as tough as the gristle on a two bit steak. She uses men and throws them away, as God obviously intended, but she has a hard time throwing away the impossibly hunky Phillip Carey. There are twists, turns and at least one dead body, but in the end, the two lovely love birds at the top of the bill realize they were meant for one another.
As one might expect, a guy with Carey's good looks was destined for the soap operas, and the Internet Movie Database informs up he was on One Live To Live for decades. West coasters of a certain age might also remember him from commercials for Granny Goose potato chips, an outfit out of Oakland that fought hard to stay on supermarket shelves, but finally succumbed to the Frito-Lay juggernaut.
But of course, the evening belonged to Miss Dahl, though there was also an appearance by Miss Noir 2009, the young lady pointing a revolver and her cleavage at you in the poster at the top of the page. I have to say that when she isn't packing heat, she seems a very pleasant young woman.
Matty Boy, don't the women in these kinds of films go through guys like Kleenex?
Hypothetical question asker, you are far too cynical. I'm sure the interest she showed in me was genuine after I told her about the fabulous fortune I stand to inherit.
Again, thanks to sfmike for inviting me to this great event. I had a wonderful time at the movie and also enjoyed spending the afternoon hanging out and shooting the breeze. The festival runs until February 1 at the Castro, and the prints of the films they show, some rarely seen, are in impeccable shape. Hats off to Mr. Muller for his stellar work on creating and growing this event, obviously a labor of love.