Fans of dark, stylish film noir can rejoice. The first Sun Valley Film Noir Series will bring some of the best of the genre to the screen at the NexStage Theatre, 120 N Main St, Ketchum. Screening are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at Iconoclast Books, Chapter One and Frenchman’s Gulch Winery in Ketchum and Copy & Print in Hailey.
Founder Jeannine Gregoire brought the idea from Seattle where the Seattle Art Museum’s film noir series has been screening these moody classics for 37 years. The series, themed “Dark Dreams” this year runs Sept. 11, 18 and 25. The genre film noir grew out of German Expressionist cinema and then mixed with American pulp fiction. Filmed in black and white, the plots focus on sexual motivations for human behavior, especially crime, highlight the tension with high-contrast cinematography and then frosts everything with a good dose of cynicism.
This year’s lineup offers some of the cream of the crop.
The films Sept. 11: Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity” (1944): Wilder wrote the script with fabled crime novelist Raymond Chandler. It stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost out to the heartwarming "Going My Way." The title refers to a clause in life insurance policies that a payout is doubled when a death is caused by certain “accidental means.” “Double Indemnity” influenced decades of films to come: an obsessive lust for money and sex that overrides moral codes, a man undone by a powerful, treacherous woman, a tale told in flashback, with poetic voiceover narration and visual shadows that reflect dark souls.
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Sept. 18: Otto Preminger’s “Laura” (1944 stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb with great supporting performances by Vincent Price and Judith Anderson. It’s based on the Vera Caspary’s 1943 novel and is one of the most stylish, elegant and witty classic film noirs.
Sept. 25: Robert Aldrich’s “Kiss Me Deadly” (1955) stars Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer, a classic noir character create by Mickey Spillane. The film is a metaphor Cold War paranoia. It’s the definitive, apocalyptic, nihilistic, science-fiction made at the close of the classic noir period.
Watch the trailer for "Double Indemnity"