Film Noir

AUGUST 10-19, 21-30

“Film noir was an immensely creative period – probably the most creative in Hollywood’s history.”

We know you missed it when it took a powder last year – because you busted our chops and made us feel real rotten! Well, fear not! Actually, fear a lot! In fact, fall helplessly into a head-spinning, heart-in-your-throat delirium of fear. And fatalism. And darkness, despair, and disillusionment. Crime, corruption and chaos. Venality and greed. Double-crossing dames. Out-of-luck dupes. Yes, Film Noir, Vancouver’s most popular (and pessimistic) summer film series, is back!

“The original noirs remain the most resonant school of movie to have ever emerged in America.”

Film Noir celebrates the stylish, seductive, cynical glories of one of the American cinema’s most aesthetically rich, influential, and angst-ridden genres. Join us in August for our almost annual excursion into this nasty, nihilistic netherworld, this pitiless urban nightmare of moral squalor, existential dread, postwar doubt, hard-as-nails dialogue, and eye-popping Expressionist style. And if that don’t sound like your thing, then you’re just a sucker! A cheap, two-bit sucker and a heel!

Burt Lancaster:
A Centennial Celebration
On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, our Film Noir program shines a special six-film spotlight on the late, great actor Burt Lancaster, one of noir’s leading on-screen icons.

“Brave, vigorous, handsome, and an actor of great range, Lancaster never yielded in his immaculate splendour, proud to be a movie actor. He was one of great stars. Perhaps the last.” DAVID THOMSON, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

The Cinematheque joins several other film archives and film institutes – including the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the Harvard Film Archive – in celebrating this year’s centennial of the eminent American actor Burt Lancaster (born 1913 in New York City). A rugged, riveting, athletic performer of wide range, capable of great sensitivity and vulnerability as well as brooding intensity and unsettling menace, Lancaster’s illustrious screen career spanned decades, continents, and genres; included risk-taking roles in films by some of cinema’s greatest directors; and saw him honoured with the Best Actor Oscar for Elmer Gantry (1960) and Oscar nominations for From Here to Eternity (1953), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and Atlantic City (1981). But it was in film noir that Lancaster began his screen career; in noir that he became a star; and – in 1957’s nasty, Broadway-set Sweet Smell of Success – in noir that he gave what may be his greatest performance. (Alas, one of Lancaster’s trademark physical features, his killer smile, seldom had occasion for display in noir’s dark, despairing, tough-as-nails world!) Our 2013 Film Noir summer season pays tribute to this Hollywood legend and film noir icon with a program loaded with Lancaster: of the ten vintage Hollywood classics screening in our noir series, six – The Killers (1946), Desert Fury (1947), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948), Criss Cross (1949), and Sweet Smell of Success – star Lancaster. Lancaster died in Los Angeles in 1994 at the age of 80.

“We're all forgotten sooner or later. But not films. That's all the memorial we should need or hope for.” BURT LANCASTER

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Acknowledgements: The Cinematheque is grateful to Joanna Lancaster; Greg Kachel; and Paul Malcolm and the UCLA Film and Television Archive for assistance with the preparation of this Burt Lancaster program.


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Recent Showings

"If anyone still doesn't know what is signified by the critical term film noir, then THE KILLERS provides an exhaustive definition."
When a police detective's over-zealous, extra-legal methods go too far, a sadistic crime boss determines to exact revenge.
The rebellious daughter of gambling-house proprietress takes up with a shady racketeer in this racy Technicolor drama.
A narcotics agent is drawn into a murder investigation in the final film of the vintage period, one of Orson Welles' masterpieces.
RESTORED 35mm ARCHIVAL PRINT! This dark, disturbing drama deserves its reputation as a high point of Hollywood noir and one of the most important American movies of the 1940s.
The noir universe of crime, corruption, cynicism, and existential chaos gets the big-budget A-list treatment in this classic Hollywood favourite, starring Bogart and Bacall.
BURT LANCASTER! NEW 35mm PRINT! A slimy New York press agent coerces a manipulative gossip columnist to break up his sister's romance with a clean-cut jazz musician.
BURT LANCASTER: A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION! This fatalistic urban nightmare comes from noir stalwart and stylist Robert Siodmak — one of the key contributors to the genre’s aesthetic.
Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster are trapped in a dead-end marriage in this suspenseful and claustrophobic noir thriller.
In the ruins of postwar London, a deeply troubled Canadian ex-POW kills a man in a pub fight and takes a kind-hearted nurse hostage.