Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, screenings

The Seattle Cinema Scene: Noir City 2012 and Oscar Nominees in the Theaters

Noir City Seattle, a shorter travelling version of San Francisco’s Noir City festival featuring archival and restored 35mm prints of noir classics and rarities, begins its seven day run of double feature screenings at the Uptown: the first year to screen at SIFF Cinema’s new venue.

The series kicks off with Thieves’ Highway (1949), directed by Jules Dassin after his career launching one-two punch of The Naked City and Brute Force. Richard Conte is the firecracker independent trucker who takes on the crooked San Francisco produce market operator (Lee J. Cobb) who crippled his father. He’s a two-fisted idealist in the nocturnal bustle of the San Francisco docks and produce marketplace and the winding two-lane highways of California, made even more treacherous in the daylight thanks to ruthless competition launched by Cobb’s henchmen. Valentina Cortese is the tarnished urban beauty sent to fleece Conte and Dassin gives the film a working class grit and post-WWII disillusionment. It plays with the Robert Wise-directed The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), a handsome suspense melodrama about a European WWII relocation camp survivor (Valentino Cortesa) who takes the identity of a deceased friend for a new life in America, which includes a son, a San Francisco mansion, and a suitor (Richard Basehart) who may have ulterior motives.

Saturday brings a pair of classics named after the dames that haunt our heroes: Gilda (1946), starring Rita Hayworth in her most iconic screen siren role as a sex kitten who digs her claws into the bodyguard (tough guy Glenn Ford) of her crippled sugar daddy husband (George Macready), and Laura (1944), with Gene Tierney as the beauty in a painting who obsesses homicide detective Dana Andrews. It’s one of the sleekest, silkiest noirs of all time.

The series pairs up its offerings through the week: there’s proto-noir (Okay America and Afraid to Talk) on Monday night, comedy noir (Unfaithfully Yours and The Good Humor Man) on Tuesday, two by Sam Fuller (House of Bamboo and Underworld USA) on Wednesday and a pair of bad girls (Gloria Graham in Naked Alibi and Beverly Michaels in Pickup) on Thursday. There are rarities mixed in with the classics, but the real curiosity for me is The Great Gatsby (1949), the shadowy first version first sound era version of the F. Scott Fitgerald novel with Alan Ladd as the enigmatic Gatsby. Never on home video, out of circulation for years on TV and repertory screenings, it arrives in a new 35mm (one assumes inspired by the upcoming version by Baz Luhrmann). It plays Sunday with Three Strangers (1946), written (but not directed) by John Huston after The Maltese Falcon and starring Falcon veterans Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet.

Schedule, showtimes, and ticket information at the SIFF Cinema website.


But yeah, most everyone else is focused on the Oscars, and just in time for some last minute cramming for your Oscar pools comes two more nominated films: Chico and Rita, a hand-drawn musical from Spain nominated for Best Animated Feature, opens at the Seven Gables (John Hartl reviews it for The Seattle Times), and Bullhead, the Belgian drama nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature, opens at The Uptown.

That’s in addition to the Oscar nominees still playing in town: A Separation (Best Foreign Language and Best Original Screenplay nominee) is still at The Egyptian, Albert Nobbs (Best Actress and others) is running at the Harvard Exit, Pina (Best Documentary) is in 3D at The Cinerama (could you find a better venue for it?), Hugo and The Artist and The Descendants are at multiple theaters, and you can still find The Iron Lady, The War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and others if you scour the listings.

And for the completists, it’s not too late to catch up on the shorts. The package of Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts plays at The Uptown and at The Varsity and the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts is at SIFF Center and The Varsity, both playing through the week. The 2012 Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts program has a single showing on Friday, February 24 at The Uptown.

After Oscar, however, you can catch up on a related piece of movie history: the documentary The Extraordinary Voyage looks at the classic early cinema masterpiece A Trip to the Moon by cinema pioneer George Melies (the “star” of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-dominating Hugo) and the restoration of a newly-discovered nitrate print of the film by French film historian and archivist Serge Bromberg. It plays one night only at NWFF, on Tuesday, February 28, along with the restored A Trip to the Moon with a new score by the band Air. Details at the NWFF website.


Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes plays at the Grand Illusion for a week in a 35mm print. And for their late-night program, they’ve found a 35mm print of Frank Henenlotter’s trash classic Frankenhooker for Friday and Saturday night screenings.

For more alternative screenings, read Moira Macdonald’s At A Theater Near You roundup at The Seattle Times.

Schedules and Showtimes

You can check your favorite independent cinemas, neighborhood theaters and multiplexes here.

Independent theaters:
SIFF Cinema
Northwest Film Forum
Grand Illusion
Seattle Art Museum
Central Cinema
The Big Picture
Majestic Bay Theatres

Multiplexes and Chains
Landmark Theatres (Egyptian, Guild 45, Harvard Exit, Metro, Varsity and others)
Regal Cinemas (Meridian 16, Thornton Place and others)
AMC Cinemas (Pacific Place, Oak Tree, Alderwood and others)
Kirland Park Place
Lincoln Square Cinemas
Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas