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.