Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Name is Julia Ross @ the Roxie Columbia Noir Festival

Last night I went to the Roxie Theater on 16th street in the Mission for a double feature of their Columbia Pictures screenings. They apparently have dug up twenty two original 35mm prints from Columbia's stock of Noir from the 30's through the 50's. Last night was a double feature of films by stable director Joseph H. Lewis ("Gun Crazy", an episode of "Bonanza" who knew?).

The first film was "So Dark the Night" (1946) a 71-minute mystery which was mildly compelling however a little unfortunately dry and predictable. A famous Parisian detective takes his first vacation in eleven years to the french country side. There he falls in love with a pretty farmer's daughter, who happens to be engaged to a ruggedly handsome and apparently murderously passionate farmer ("I'd rather kill her than see her with someone else!", rad approach buddy. Don't let anyone tell you what's what!) After the deaths of the two youngsters, and after the girl runs out on the detective whom she has recently betrothed herself to, the local village decides it is a good idea to hire the detective to solve the case. Good one gang. Nothing like a good conflict of interest to immediately make your story obvious.

The true highlight of the night however was the second feature, "My Name is Julia Ross". The short but extremely compelling feature almost immediately threw the audience into a olden day craigslist killer horror story. After answering an ad in a london paper for a secretary job and winning the position with an old, strange woman, Julia Ross (Nina Foch) is immediately drugged and told she is someone else after waking up in a room that overlooks an ocean onto a murderously dangerous seascape. The rest of the film documents her attempts to escape from the clutches of a demented family. Nina Foch's performance is really what made this movie stand out, playing a trapped woman almost always on the verge of suicide for the full 61 minutes of the picture. A Twilight Zone episode made into a feature, with less Sci-Fi and more mystery.

I'm going again tonight to see some Fritz Lang and a drifter frame-up picture. Should be a lot of fun from an already impressive line up of noir from the Roxie. The theater itself makes the experience even better. One screen, sticky floors, cheap candy, and good movies. Can't ask for much more.

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