I Wake Up Dreaming returns to The Castro Theatre in San Francisco every Wednesday in August for a Noir extravaganza not to be missed!
This year’s I WAKE UP DREAMING festival of film noir marks the conclusion of a cycle of programming that began for me at the Roxie in San Francisco back in September 1991. That month-long noir fest was the first in what would become a twenty-five year ritual of film noir programming in San Francisco at the Roxie.
Last summer, I brought my critically hailed series I WAKE UP DREAMING to the palatial Castro Theatre for the first time and am returning in August with what will be my final festival of noir in San Francisco. It’s my hope that the eleven films being screened this August will baffle and delight those who have come to expect esoteric, oddball programming from the film noir universe. Bringing these films to audiences who crave them has been a honor and a privilege.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3:
While an innocent man sits on death row for the murder of his blackmailing mistress, his blindly faithful wife leads a desperate chase in the night for the truth. Adapted from one of Cornell Woolrich’s most popular and powerful books, it offers up a story as dark and dissolute as the author’s own forlorn life. If film noir is meant to suggest the chronic melancholia that hopelessly engulfs its characters, then BLACK ANGEL is the template for that assertion. Starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Constance Dowling, Wally Ford. Beautifully photographed by Paul Ivano. Directed by Roy William Neill. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 80 mins. 1946. At 6:00 and 9:50.
One of the most notorious and blatantly bizarre films of the 1940s, it tells the hauntingly strange story of Stan Carlisle, a small-time carny who dreams of hitting it big in the phony spiritualism racket. When he hooks up with Zeena, a world-weary circus fortune teller, and then later with Dr. Lillith Ritter, a beautiful but sinister psychologist, his quest for ill-gotten fame and fortune takes an irrevocably nightmarish turn. Stan’s horrifying downfall is still one of the most disturbing spectacles in American cinema. Starring Tyrone Power, Coleen Grey, Joan Blondell, Helen Walker, Taylor Holmes, Ian Keith, Mike Mazurki. Photographed by the incomparable Lee Garmes and based on the sensational novel by William Lindsay Gresham. Directed by Edmund Goulding. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 111 mins. 1947. At 7:45 only!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10:
An extremely RARE and sensational early noir — a shockingly vivid expose of the insidious web of shame created by racketeers and pimps who prey on young girls who are in desperate need of food and money. Jane and her kid sister Edie are the latest victims of this scandalous societal disgrace, but this time the tables will be turned! Wild and ultimately surreal, this is one “B” noir that truly delivers the goods! Pure cinematic dynamite! Starring Nan Grey, Alan Baxter, Tom Neal, Mary Anderson. Photographed by John Stumar. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 59 mins. 1941. At 6:30 only!
I WAKE UP SCREAMING
An exciting, trend-setting early noir from pulp scribe Steve Fisher! Frankie Christorpher, a glib, fast-talking Broadway promoter, becomes the prime suspect when the beautiful girl he’s been putting over on society turns up murdered. The darkly obsessed Inspector Cornell is determined to put Frankie in the electric chair! Will the dead girl’s sister help clear Frankie – or put him right smack in the hot spot? See this visually vibrant film noir classic on the giant Castro screen! Starring Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, Elisha Cook, Jr. Photographed by Edward Cronjager. Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 82 mins. 1941. At 7:45 only!
THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL
A naïve young girl comes to the big city and is soon pulled into the sordid world of prostitution by a pack of ruthless gangsters. After they frame her brother for murder, things take an abrupt detour to the absolute most outer limits of the noir universe! A mind-boggling hybrid of hardboiled noir and classic Hollywood horror, it’s an absolute MUST SEE on the big screen! Starring Ellen Drew, Robert Paige, Paul Lukas, Joseph Calleia, Philip Terry, Marc Lawrence, Rod Cameron, and Gerald Mohr. Photographed by Victor Milner. Directed by Stuart Heisler. In B&W. Digital. 65 mins. 1941. At 9:30 only!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17:
THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK
Drenched in the teeming atmosphere of the sweltering New York City underworld, a life and death race is on to locate the carriers of a deadly disease! This visually stunning docu-noir makes great use of its expressionistic location photography to create a suspenseful and convincingly menacing world. Starring Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin and Dorothy Malone. Dazzling cinematography by the brilliant Joseph Biroc. Directed by Earl McEvoy. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 79 mins. 1950. At 6:00 and 9:45.
99 RIVER STREET
Washed-up boxer Ernie Driscoll, now an embittered cabbie, becomes implicated in the murder of his faithless wife. With the law closing in, his chances of finding the real killer are growing increasingly slimmer by the hour! A struggling young actress becomes Driscoll’s only ally in his frantic search for truth and redemption. A stone-cold and hard as a hammer film noir classic! Starring John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter, Peggie Castle and Frank Faylen. Breathtaking cinematography by Frank (Franz) Planer. Directed for maximum impact by Phil Karlson. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 84 mins. 1953. At 8:00 only!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24:
A hot-blooded blonde drifts into town and lands a job as a waitress in a broken-down bar. She sets her greedy sights on the owner and soon a hair-brained scheme to knock off his alcoholic wife is hatched. Complications arise when Blondie’s repulsively lecherous neighbor catches wind of the plot. One of Hollywood’s great sleaze classics, slyly and proudly low brow. Starring Beverly Michaels, Richard Egan and Percy Helton. Photographed by Edward Fitzgerald. Directed by Russell Rouse. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 77 mins. 1953. At 6:15 and 9:45.
FEMALE ON THE BEACH
After moving into a funky but fashionable beach house, uptight middle-aged widow Lynn Markham lets herself fall under the romantic spell of Drumm Hall, a mysterious local beach bum. Does the shadowy Mr. Hall have anything to do with the death of Eloise Crandall, who took a fatal tumble from a nearby cliff? A film noir melodrama that swerves carefully free of succumbing to camp; deceptively modern and darkly humorous, and how! Starring Joan Crawford, Jeff Chandler, Jan Sterling, Cecil Kellaway, Judith Evelyn, and Natalie Schafer. Photographed by Charles Lang. Directed by Joseph Pevney. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 97 mins. 1955. At 7:45 only!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31:
After a nuclear holocaust reduces the planet to a desolate ghost world, the last five people remaining manage to find one another. But the road to a renewed civilization is often paved with bad intentions. FIVE is one of the most starkly bleak films of the 1950s, a grim and stunningly raw vision of an apocalyptic landscape. A rare opportunity to see this seldom screened low-budget oddity; it’s certain to visit your dreams for years to come. Starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, and Earl Lee. Photographed by Sid Lubov and Louis Clyde Stouman. Written and directed by radio’s creator of “Lights Out,” Arch Oboler. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 90 mins. 1951. At 6:00 and 10:00.
KISS ME DEADLY
Mickey Spillane’s brutal bedroom dick, Mike Hammer, slugs and slogs his way through the dankest sewers of Los Angeles in his quest for the “great whatsit,” an elusive and explosive key to nothing short of the end of the world. This is one of noir’s most conspicuously adult films, visually and thematically innovative, senselessly coarse. And even though the film’s subliminal messaging is distantly removed from the original novel, it nevertheless remains the ultimate reflection of noir’s fatalistic powers during the deeply paranoid 1950s. Starring Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Maxine Cooper, Gaby Rodgers, Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, and Cloris Leachman. Photographed by the extraordinary Ernest Laszlo. Directed by Robert Aldrich. In B&W. 35mm studio archive print. 106 mins. 1955. At 8:00 only!