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Final Days For New York Noir


Friday, August 25------There are still a few days to catch the final  offerings in the NYC NOIR series that has been running at the Film Forum for the past few weeks. Dedicated to a depiction of New York as a place of grit, grays and ghosts, the series offers a tidy endgame of treats, a mix of classics and little known gems. With temperatures expected to hit the 90s in the final dog days of August, New York never looked quite so noir. But at least this NYC is air conditioned.

REAR WINDOW (1954, ALFRED HITCHCOCK) “Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times?” Laid up with a broken leg in his apartment in the “low-rent district” (the West Village!), news fotog James Stewart wiles away the sweaty summertime hours between visits from uptown gal-with-her-eye-on-marriage Grace Kelly by using that telephoto lens to zero in on the human comedy across his courtyard: a lonely woman; newlyweds who can’t get enough; boozing musician wrestling with that elusive love tune; the dancer with boyfriend overload; the childless couple with the beloved little dog—but, hey, what’s Raymond Burr up to? From a story by suspense titan Cornell Woolrich (writing as William Irish), one of the Master’s greatest successes: a witty, moving, and nerve-shredding entertainment; a technical tour de force, with Hitchock’s most ruthless orchestration of point of view; and a meditation on the voyeurism of both filmmakers and the audience.

ROPE(1948, ALFRED HITCHCOCK) “We’ve killed for the sake of danger and the sake of killing...I felt tremendous, exhilarated!” Hitchcock’s boldest technical experiment ever, as the claustrophobic, single-set story of effete rich boys Farley Granger and John Dall’s thrill-seeking murder—clearly derived from the Leopold-Loeb case—is exposed by Professor James Stewart. With the action taking place in “real time” and shot in continuously moving ten-minute takes, the entire thing seems to be composed of only four shots (count ‘em), causing as much suspense on the set as for the audience. 

THE WRONG MAN (1957, ALFRED HITCHCOCK) Returning at dawn to Jackson Heights, Stork Club bass player Henry Fonda finds himself trapped in a classic mistaken-identity case. Shot by Hitch in ruthlessly restrained semi-doc style on the locations of the actual case, with harrowing sequence of Fonda’s booking and arraignment and memorable innocent-to-guilty dissolve.

KLUTE (1971, ALAN J. PAKULA) Smalltown detective Donald Sutherland, journeying to NYC to seek a friend’s murderer, finds both were clients of high-priced callgirl Jane Fonda — and then things get ominous. Ruthlessly stylized photography by Gordon Willis (Manhattan), and a partly-improvised (and Oscar-winning) performance by Jane highlight glossily-noir thriller. 

BORN TO WIN (1971, IVAN PASSER) “I’m a very boring guy when I’m straight,” says ex-hairdresser George Segal in his “most prodigious and imaginative performance” (Pauline Kael) as a heroin addict who haunts pre-Disneyfied Times Square until a friend gets the obligatory “hot shot” in a hotel elevator. With Karen Black and a pre-Mean Streets Bobby De Niro.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969, JOHN SCHLESINGER) “Everybody’s talking” at cowboy-geared, straight-from-the-sticks stud wannabe Jon Voight — who immediately becomes the hustler hustled — while seedy tenement squatter Dustin Hoffman is “walkin’ here” as he storms at a pushy cabdriver; but they form their own alliance within the grubby underside of Times Square. Oscars for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay (Waldo Salt), among 7 Oscar nominations.

WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967, TERENCE YOUNG) At 27B St. Luke’s Place (actually, No. 4, a minute away from Film Forum), multi-disguised Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and cohorts Richard Crenna and Jack Weston terrorize blind lady Audrey Hepburn to find that drug stash. With one of the all-time jump-in-your-seat sequences.

CRY TERROR! (1958, ANDREW L. STONE) Psycho airline bomber Rod Steiger, on his way to a half-mill payoff, keeps James Mason hostage in an East Side apartment (albeit with riv vu) and Mason’s wife Inger Stevens captive at 6 Barrow Street (in Film Forum’s vicinity). With a suspenseful West Side Highway drive and a chase into a PATH station.

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK (1971, JERRY SCHATZBERG) Scintillating debut for Al Pacino as the Boyfriend from Hell, a small-time crook leading decent Kitty Winn (Best Actress at Cannes) on the downhill heroin path. Screenplay by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne.

For film screening schedule and information on upcomiing series, log on to the website: 

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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