The Noir Canon Series, This June at AFS

For the second year, the AFS Cinema brings a summertime dose of shadowy moral ambiguity and proto-existential dread to movie screens with our Noir Canon series. These are the foundational, quintessential works of Film Noir, and before the first screening of each title, AFS Lead Programmer Lars Nilsen will introduce the work and explain some of the themes and their importance to the genre as a whole. The series begins tonight, Friday June 1, with a special screening of the Library Of Congress' excellent 35mm print of Jacques Tourneur's OUT OF THE PAST.

About the series:

In Paris, after the World War II Nazi occupation, American crime and detective films flooded back into cinemas after a four-year absence. The moral and visual darkness of these films caused French critics and audiences to coin a new term, film noir, to describe them. The narrative directness, visual sophistication and dark humor that characterized these films have made fi lm noir enduringly popular. With this series, we hope to share some of the foundational films of film noir and, in our introductions to these screenings, help people understand what characterizes the genre, what it meant to audiences of its time, and what it still says to us today.

OUT OF THE PAST (June 1 and 3)
USA, 1947, 1h 37min, 35mm
Jacques Tourneur, best known for his atmospheric horror films for producer Val Lewton, directs a superb cast (Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Jane Greer, Rhonda Fleming) in this story of a former low-rent detective, established in a new, wholesome life, who is drawn back into the world of darkness he barely escaped.

IN A LONELY PLACE (June 8 and 10)
USA, 1950, 1h 34min, 35mm
Whatever genre he happened to be working in, director Nicholas Ray always found a way to make artful, psychologically rich work. Here, Humphrey Bogart plays a cynical, sardonic screenwriter suspected of murder. His neighbor (Gloria Grahame) is fond of him and provides an alibi, but is his darkness more than surface-deep?

THIS GUN FOR HIRE (June 13 and 17)
USA, 1942, 1h 21min, 35mm
The king and queen of noir, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, are paired for the first time in a thrilling, lightning-paced noir based on a Graham Greene novel. Ladd plays a blackmailer and murderer who is being shadowed and investigated by Veronica Lake, who has been enlisted by police to crack his shell.

THE BIG HEAT (June 22 and 24)
USA, 1953, 1h 29min, DCP
One of director Fritz Lang’s masterpieces and a Hollywood film of rare depth and expression. Despite his department’s lax attitude towards the matter, tough cop Glenn Ford goes nose to nose with crime boss Lee Marvin. When the gangsters strike back, Ford must fight to save what he has left. With Gloria Grahame, in her greatest performance.

RAW DEAL (June 29)
USA, 1948, 1h 19min, 35mm
The German-American director Anthony Mann was a master-craftsman, and, in collaboration with cinematographer John Alton, created some of the best looking and most economical down-market noir. RAW DEAL stars Dennis O’Keefe as a con who escapes and tries to go straight, but must first contend with his adversary, played by Raymond Burr. With genre great Claire Trevor as the bad girl who loves O’Keefe.