NOIR CITY's flagship festival in San Francisco returned to its home at the historic Castro Theatre January 24—February 2, 2014. The 12th edition of the world's most popular film noir festival went international, exploding the long-held belief that noir stories and style are a specifically American phenomenon. Focusing on the years immediately following World War II, this year's NOIR CITY festival featured classic noir films from France, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Britain, as well as a complementary sampling of homegrown Hollywood product.

Familiar American stars such as Robert Mitchum, Ava Gardner, Orson Welles, Dan Duryea, and Lizabeth Scott shared the Castro Theatre screen with international superstars Jean Gabin, Olga Zubarry, Toshiro Mifune, Ninón Sevilla and Yves Montand. The 27 films in the series conclusively proved that the cinematic movement known as "Noir" spanned the globe, and its style, sexiness, and cynicism crossed all international borders.

The Film Noir Foundation funded 35mm restoration of Too Late for Tears premiered during opening weekend. The rediscovered classic played on a double bill with the only American film noir directed by a woman, Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker. The FNF also recognized the first participant in its Nancy Mysel Legacy Project that night. The project was created last year by the family of the late film preservationist who'd managed the FNF's inaugural film restorations. The honoree, Ariel Schudson, who has earned a MFA in Moving Image Archive Studies from UCLA, will work with the Foundation on its next restoration project.

The name Akira Kurosawa doesn't immediately bring to mind film noir. However, Kurosawa often vividly chronicled contemporary urban life in his films. His two forays into noir played at the festival. In his 1948 film Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) an alcoholic doctor and a tubercular gangster forge a cautious friendship, which is soon threatened by the resurfacing of the mobster's boss. In 1949's Stray Dog (Nora inu), a veteran cop guides a young policeman through the underbelly of post-war Tokyo in search of the younger man's stolen gun. Kurosawa regulars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura co-starred in both.

The NOIR CITY Bus Tour made a triumphant comeback this year. 24 passengers enjoyed a three-hour excursion through some of San Francisco's most cinematic sites (what's left of them!) with their guides Miguel Pendas and Eddie Muller. Attendees watched film clips from classic noir films such as The Maltese Falcon, The Lineup, The Sniper, Thieves' Highway, Dark Passage, House on Telegraph Hill, Vertigo and many more—while visiting locations where the films were actually shot!

Two Argentinean films that had never previously screened in the U.S. played at NOIR CITY. The stunning 1952 Argentine anthology film Never Open That Door (No abras nunca esa puerta) was adapted from short stories by American pulp noir master Cornell Woolrich. The Black Vampire (El vampiro negro) made in Buenos Aires in 1953, is a remake of Fritz Lang's intense classic M. The latter made its American cinema debut in a brand new subtitled 35mm print funded by the Film Noir Foundation, produced under the supervision of the man responsible for rediscovery of the complete Metropolis, Fernando Martin Peña.

The ten day festival closed with a salute to Hollywood's take on the Far East, a triple bill of the rarely screened Singapore (1947) and two Joseph Von Sternberg films Macao (1952) and The Shanghai Gesture (1942). A closing night party followed on the Castro Theatre's mezzanine. Revelers enjoyed free drinks and a chance to mingle with their fellow NOIR CITY attendees. If you couldn't make our flagship NOIR CITY San Francisco festival, don't despair, we also have satellite festivals in Seattle, Austin, Hollywood, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Portland (OR).


↑ View photographer David M. Allen's full NOIR CITY 12 coverage here.

To purchase photos, click on an image within the gallery; select "buy" from the drop down menu to be linked to a price sheet. Want to check out photos from a specific date? Check out the links below for each festival date.

The support of NOIR CITY attendees and FNF donors assists the Film Noir Foundation in its mission to preserve noir films and to provide theatrical venues for screening this unique cinematic art form.

You can now attend NOIR CITY festivals in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Hollywood, Chicago, Portland (OR), Washington D.C. and Kansas City. Go here for more on the FNF's mission to save film noir for future generations.

↑ Joe Talbot's astounding trailer for NOIR CITY 12

EXTRA! EXTRA! Get Your Noir News Here!

The world of noir goes well beyond the boundaries of NOIR CITY. The Film Noir Foundation's news page brings you the latest on film noir screenings and festivals in the U.S. and abroad. We also cover: neo-noirs currently in the theatre; DVD, Blu-ray and digital releases of classic noirs and the films influenced by them; and noir news "beyond the cinema"—current events, fine and performing art pieces and commercial products inspired by the world of noir. We'll also let you know which dark gems are playing during the current month on TCM and FOX Movie Channel on the Film Noir Foundation's TV Listing's page.

NOIR CITY Annual #6

NOIR CITY Annual #6Add this book to your library and help the FNF in its restoration and preservation efforts! NOIR CITY Annual #6 has the best writing on noir available anywhere in the world! Articles for this 248-page book have been selected from 2013's NOIR CITY quarterly e-magazine, showcasing contributing writers Vince Keenan, Jake Hinkson, Imogen Sara Smith, Mark Fertig, Carl Steward, and others, with an introduction by Eddie Muller. Dramatically designed by Michael Kronenberg, the NOIR CITY Annual #6 is a steal at $25. Now available from Amazon. → PURCHASE HERE.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't signed up, maybe you should. Maybe you'll meet someone who will betray you and leave you for dead on the internet. At the least, you'll have access to a vast repository of noir posters and photos.



The International Edition of NOIR CITY makes its next stop at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, October 18-30. Patrons will get a chance to see firsthand, on the big screen, that film noir crossed all borders in its golden age. Films include the familiar, like Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) and John Boulting's Brighton Rock (1947) both written by Graham Greene, as well as Jules Dassin's classic Parisian heist film Rififi (1955). Rarities will also be screened, such as Germany's grim post-war look at Berlin in The Murderers Are Among Us (1946) and the Argentinean noir El vampiro negro (1953) which screened in the U.S. for the first time ever at this year's NOIR CITY flagship festival in San Francisco. The 21-film series will also comprise American films, including the Film Noir Foundation's five-years-in-the-making restoration of Too Late for Tears (1949) starring noir icons Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea. On the lighter side there's Hollywood's campy take on the Far East with Josef von Sternberg's Macao (1952) starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, as well as smuggler Fred MacMurray searching for a valuable string of pearls and his amnesiac girlfriend Ava Gardner in Singapore (1947). FNF board of directors members Foster Hirsch and Alan K. Rode will introduce selected shows each weekend. Ticket information and the full schedule are available on the AFI's website.

→ View our complete list of films screened at NOIR CITY 1-12 here.

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Copyright © 2014. Website design: Ted Whipple/Incite Design; poster and logo design: Bill Selby; poster and NOIR CITY photos: David M. Allen; NOIR CITY SF 2014 video and NOIR CITY 2014 trailer: Joe Talbot.