In this world of bait and switch, there’s something about getting exactly what you expect that can hit the spot like nothing else can. Nobody knows this better than Eddie Muller, film noir expert, “Czar of Noir,” and the smoking gun behind Noir City, our city’s most perfect genre film festival. Muller’s programming always hits the spot, bringing a selection of the best restorations (the Film Noir Foundation’s original mission), classics and undiscovered pulp hits to the Castro's screen each year. Film Noir, as a genre, is one we’ve proudly claimed as our own—there’s something distinctly American about all that paranoia and deception—but after 12 years in the business, Muller (and this year’s savvy festival trailer) have something else to say: Noir knows no bounds.
Fittingly, Noir City 12 is dubbed "The International Edition." The festival kicked off last Friday with a classic double feature of Orson Welles’ masterwork The Third Man, buffered by Journey Into Fear, a freaked-out thriller credited to Norman Foster that bears the unmistakable mark of Welles’ hand, though he was never formally credited as co-director.
The fest then takes viewers on an international tour of Noir’s finest from around the globe, organized by country, and beginning with our neighbor to the south, Mexico—one of Welles biggest noir inspirations.
Monday takes the festival to Germany for Berlin Expresswhich holds the dubious distinction of being the first American film shot in occupied Berlin, and The Murderers Are Among Us, a severe bite-back against the Nazi regime that came perhaps too early for local comfort.
Before it ends with a triple bill of classic Hollywood orientalism on Sunday, January 2, the festival detours through Britain for their very special mash of kitchen sink melodrama and hard-boiled noir, our sister state; France, for a showing of the genre’s more stylish cousins and forerunners including Julien Duvivier’s early formula-setter Pepe Le Moko, the classic Rififi, and Clouzout’s masterful The Wages of War; and most surprisingly and rewardingly Argentina for a reworking of Fritz Lang’s M with feminist leanings, and The Black Vampire amongst others.
Noir City 12: The International Edition (OR "It's A Bitter Little World") runs through February 2nd at the Castro Theatre.