Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Lineup (1958)

Screen capture from Sony DVD
WHO: Eli Wallach had one of his most memorable roles in this as a hit man named Dancer.

WHAT: Often grouped with great San Francisco noir films like The Maltese Falcon, The Lady From Shanghai, and Out of the Past, The Lineup came more than decade after those films, was based on a popular television cop show, and integrates new styles of acting and dramaturgy based in cutting-edge New York Theatre that feel to me somehow out of step with the noir tradition of the 1940s and early 1950s and more in line with the human-psychological explorations of Elia Kazan (who gave Wallach his start in movies), or with the future work of its director Don Siegel (best known for Dirty Harry), than with noir stalwarts like Fritz Lang, Joseph G. Lewis, etc.

Noir or not, it's undoubtedly a great San Francisco film, packed with exciting and/or atmospheric scenes shot in real locations as they were fifty-six years ago. And not just the typical shots from the northeast corner of town usually captured by Hollywood crews when shooting here. The above image was, according to Brian Hollins of the amazing Reel SF website, taken at 2011 Bayshore Blvd., the current site of the Bayshore Cafe. The Cow Palace might not be as familiar a landmark to our-of-towners as Coit Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, but to locals it's unmistakable.

WHERE/WHEN: Noon today only at the Castro Theatre

WHY: You may recall that Wallach died this past June at the age of ninety-eight and a half. Today's screening of The Lineup is the first of an unhappily large number of memorial screenings coming to the Castro in the coming month or so. August 27th tributes director Paul Mazursky, who died a week after Wallch, with his films Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Tempest. August 29ths screening of Robert Altman's Popeye, the first big film role for Robin Williams, was booked well before his tragic suicide last week, but has now become a de facto tribute to his performance genius. Shortly after his death was announced, the Castro's twitter account informed me that the theatre will screen The Fisher King, presumably as a dedicated Williams tribute, on Sunday, September 14th.

If you can't wait that long to see a Robin Williams film with a crowd of the actor's fans (and perhaps even friends?), then tomorrow's screening of the 1996 comedy The Birdcage at the Lark Theatre in Marin might be what you're looking for. The Lark is also the first theatre around to schedule tribute screenings to the iconic Lauren Bacall, who also died last week; they'll show Howard Hawks's classic To Have And Have Not August 24th & 27th. The Lark is not advertising their screenings today and this coming Wednesday of Breakfast At Tiffany's as a memorial to Mickey Rooney, who died at age 95 this past April, perhaps because his role in that film is for so many the aspect of his career and/or of that film they'd most like to forget.  By contrast, the Stanford Theatre's current calendar has reserved two days a week from now until October 7th to show a 35mm print of a film from Rooney's late-1930s/early-1940s heyday every Monday and Tuesday. This week it's showing The Human Comedy directed by Clarence Brown in 1943.

HOW: On 35mm, as part of a Wallach tribute double-bill with The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (the latter on DCP)

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