Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Double Life (1947)

WHO: These are just the people who earned Oscar nominations (and some of them, wins) for their work on this film: director George Cukor, star Ronald Colman (he won), screenwriters Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, and composer Miklos Rosza (he also won.)

WHAT: Perhaps it's because it was made by a mixture of major film noir figures (Rosza, cinematographer Milton Krasner, editor Robert Parrish, who went on to direct Cry Danger and The Mob, supporting players Shelley Winters and Edmund O'Brien) and folks who rarely touched the noir rail (Cukor, Colman, Gordon & Kanin) that A Double Life  is such a unique entry in the cycle. It's a takedown of Broadway pretensions prefiguring All About Eve (also shot by Krasner) but it goes further into darkness, finding the truly noir side to method acting.

WHERE/WHEN: At the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto today and tomorrow at 7:30 PM, with an additional 4:00 show today only.

WHY: Noir City is only a few days away, but if you simply can't wait until Friday for a big-screen dose of black-and-white badness, the Stanford's showing a pair of films that were featured at the Castro Theatre festival a couple years ago. A Double Life may be particularly good preparation for next Sunday's Noir City double-bill of dangerous actors (Repeat Performance and Sunset Blvd.), or to contrast Colman's blackface turn as Othello against African-American performers Richard Wright & Juano Hernandez in Tuesday's Native Son and Intruder In The Dust. Edmund O'Brien appears in both A Double Life and in the February 1 3-D noir Man In The Dark, and the streets of New York are seen here and in the following day's The Window. Universal Pictures is another connection; the Stanford's been showing films exclusively from that 100-year-old studio since September, and Noir City's pre-code proto-noir triple bill features two films recently shown in Palo Alto (A House Divided and The Kiss Before The Mirror) and one that wasn't (Laughter In Hell). And the closing day of Noir City brings a B-Movie marathon with a couple of Universals missing from the Stanford marquee recently as well:  Smooth as Silk and the rollicking spy caper Fly By Night.

HOW: 35mm, on a double-bill with another Universal noir shot by Krasner, The Dark Mirror

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