THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT returns to San Francisco's Roxie Theatre showcasing 15 classic French noir films over 5 days. Not to be missed, HOSSEIN x 5, a five-film tribute to actor/director Robert Hossein on Saturday, November 5.
“Dark and handsome, Robert Hossein was a leading man with a slightly sad countenance and soft eyes, like a faintly more exotic Liam Neeson.... His value in French cinema is sure to be reappraised in decades to come. Certainly after Saturday he'll have a lot of new San Francisco fans, most of whom probably had no idea who he was beforehand. ...One marathon day... will feature four more of Hossein's directing efforts from the early 1960s, plus one of the many films around that time (1959's white-slavery thriller The Road to Shame) he merely starred in....
The "it" they had a name for is, of course, film noir, whose Hollywood-heyday titles of the 1940s and 1950s weren't given any particular handle at home (beyond a generic a like "thriller"). It was up to the French to eventually recognize the peculiar style, themes and occasional brilliance of movies whose home-turf critics, audiences, and even makers tended to think of as routine commercial product. ...[T]he French industry made plenty of its own post-WW2 crime melodramas, many owing a certain debt to Hollywood yet strongly stamped by a Gallic sensibility. Malcolm's series...includes a great many films that were little-seen outside Europe at the time, and which have yet to experience a major critical re-evaluation."
—Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
"Unfortunately, by blowing up French cinema, Godard, Truffaut and the gang left quite a bit of wreckage behind. For the third straight year, programmer and film historian Don Malcolm is picking through the collateral damage to find truly great and forgotten movies and artists in his 15-film series at the Roxie Theater.....
"Robert Hossein, like his New Wave enemies, was also a filmmaker who flaunted narrative convention....Les scélérats exemplifies what this series is all about: An emotionally mature exploration of our deepest, darkest desires and fears."
—G. Allen Johnson, SF Gate
"French actresses have a way of getting to the heart of the matter merely by raising their eyelids and staring down any manbeast in the vicinity.... These exemplars of femininity have a dignity in distress unseen in their Anglo counterparts. We rarely get a chance to savor the vintage variety, but extraordinairement, the feisty Roxie is overflowing with French Noir for five days, during THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT series....
"Sunday is full of marvelous actors in ticklish situations, including the unique Michel Simon, the perpetual outsider to whom insiders are indifferent until somebody dies. And even then. Also Simone Signoret, Louis Jourdan, and Lili Palmer, better-known here for their English-language work.
"Monday features a fabulous double bill of Macao, l'enfer du jeu (1942), Gambling Hell (11/7, 7:15 p.m.), starring Eric von Stroheim doing his naughty but nasty Prussian officer shtick, of which I never weary, do you? With Sessue Hayakawa, doing his. Les jeux sont faits (1947), The Chips are Down (11/7, 9:30 p.m.), features the subtle machinations of Micheline Presle."
—Erin Blackwell, Bay Area Reporter
On The Last Turn / Le dernier tournant, Pierre Chenal's adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice:
"Corinne Luchaire was only eighteen when cast as (equally young) Cora, who married much older Nick strictly for security. Luchaire has none of Lana Turner's glamor, but her youth and fierce energy give her a realism as Cain's "hell cat" that Turner could never hope to Corinne Luchaire (Cora) and Michel Simon (Nick) achieve."
—Lady Eve's REEL LIFE
"The enthusiasm for film noir shows no signs of abating. The trend is borne out by the arrival of a third installment of THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT, a series that trades in heightened sensuality, an acute awareness of class and a deep probing of psychological excess."
—Sura Wood, SFArts
The Savage Eye (1960)
"MIDCENTURY ECLECTIC! has to be the most adventurously programmed (by Don Malcolm) repertory film series of the year, centerpieced by a screening of THE BAD SEED with star Patty McCormack in person at 6 p.m., Sunday, May 15.... Really, there's not a weak link in this intriguing journey into the fractured arthouse of the mid-20th century."
—G. Allen Johnson, SF Gate
"A total of twelve wildly original films will be shown, and not a sequel or a remake among them. 'When we did it there was nothing like it at the time,' McCormack said of The Bad Seed. 'It couldn't be redone today because we used the culture of that time.' McCormack's words could easily apply to the entire festival."
— David-Elijah Nahmod, SF Weekly
"If you want to provoke a heated dialogue with a film lover, ask why a certain beloved movie (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, say, or To Kill a Mockingbird) is part of the canon when another, stronger film (Frank Borzage's The Mortal Storm, for example) is utterly forgotten. Ever-restless programmer Don Malcolm would have quite a bit to say on the subject, I think, based on his passion for unearthing great films that many people have heard of but few have seen. He packs a dozen powerhouse titles into MIDCENTURY ECLECTIC!, an immersive dive into the most visceral and soul-churning works of postwar international cinema. From Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados and Rene Clement's Forbidden Games to The Bad Seed (with Patty McCormack in the house), the Roxie will be heaving and rocking."
—Michael Fox, KQED Arts
BEYOND BLUE EYES
Anastasia Lin's interview with Don Malcolm provides a fascinating glimpse into the films in the MIDCENTURY ECLECTIC! series. VIEW/DOWNLOAD.
Crowther on THE SHEEP HAS FIVE LEGS
"BRITAIN may have its Alec Guinness, but France still has Fernandel to match against him in any sort of contest of comic talent anyone may care to call. And no better recent demonstration of the veteran French comedian's mighty skill can be had than his work in The Sheep Has Five Legs..... [N]ot only is this latest picture the best with Fernandel in years, but it is probably the cleverest and most hilarious French comedy we've seen since the war." READ FULL REVIEW.
—Bosley Crowler, August 10, 1955.
“It's 12 films in four days, and there's not a weak selection in the whole lineup...[The films are] sophisticated in the ways that they portray the dynamics of crime, marriage and adultery.... Bizarre in a brand new way.”
—Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle/SF Gate, Racy, Daring Lineup for Roxie's French Film Noir Festival
"While many American films of the prime noir era focused principally on male-dominated criminal milieux and activities, the dozen features in "The French Had a Name For It 2" find that romance—or what passes for it—between the sexes can provide quite enough dark intrigue all by itself, with or without the genre's usual elements of guns, gangsters and cops."
—Dennis Harvey, EatDrinkFilms.com, L'amour Fou: Betrayal and Suspicion in French Film Noir
San Francisco's breakout festival of 2014--THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT, which revived twelve French noirs from 1946-1963 not seen in American theatres in at least half a century, took everyone by surprise and created a wave of interest in foreign noir that has galvanized repertory film programming across the United States ever since.
Familiar faces—Brigitte Bardot, Jean Gabin, Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura—in unfamiliar but compelling (and often risqué) films proved to be beyond intoxicating last November. Now, Don Malcolm—with considerable moral support from Lavine—is at it again, bringing twelve more of these astonishing discoveries to the Roxie screen beginning Friday, November 6.
"Round Two will bring to our attention some amazing talents—Daniel Gélin, Ginette Leclerc, Françoise Arnoul, Viviane Romance—that we simply don't know over here. I predict that they will rock people's worlds!" —Elliot Lavine
"Subtitled "Rare French Film Noir, 1948-1963," the much-anticipated series THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT explores the notion that the French not only gave a name to the dark-end-of-the-street melodramas but that they also made some of the best, most involving examples of the genre. Playing Friday night through Monday night at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre are eight rarely seen films with major stars like Brigitte Bardot, Jean Gabin and Simone Signoret in ways we've not seen them before."
"The fest springs from an irony of film history – though the French New Wave filmmakers, writers and critics celebrated many American film noir works, they were often quick to disparage indigenous French noirs. As a result, some fine films have not received much love over the years. The fest seeks to rediscover and redeem these films...."
"In a land that reveres cinema like no other, France has hidden in its oeuvre crime films and dark melodramas that capture the essence of noir."
"French noirs have a special freedom in that they aren't censored. The subject matter and situations are adult, the language can be strong, and there are flashes of nudity. Things that had to be hinted at in American noirs could be stated. Scenes don't end outside the bedroom door.... I didn't know [these films] existed, or even that there were movies of this kind. But now I've seen every one of them, and the experience is like finding gold where you thought was rock."
Meredith Brody, INDIEWIRE
"I can give no higher praise to A RARE NOIR IS GOOD TO FIND's programming...I intend to go to EVERY DOUBLE BILL, including the films I've already seen."
G. Allen Johnson, SF Gate/San Francisco Chronicle
"What's most interesting about the series is the level of compassion for the human condition that pervades many of the films."
Jonathan Kiefer, SF Weekly
"It's exciting to find [A MAN ESCAPED] first in the queue Thursday evening for the Roxie's 15-film series, A RARE NOIR IS GOOD TO FIND... big-screen sightings are indeed hard to come by—and...rare in the sense of being precious."
Michael Guillen, The Evening Class
A Man Escaped (1956) / There's Always A Price Tag (1957). Hard-working cinephile Guillen kicks off a multi-part series showcasing A RARE NOIR IS GOOD TO FIND with a look at Opening Night.
The Scarlet Dove (1961) / The Wild, Wild Rose (1960). In Part 2, Guillen examines RARE NOIR's Friday program, including a lengthy examination of Grace Chang's astonishing performance in Hong Kong'sThe Wild,Wild Rose.
"Japon Negro" Triple-Bill: Underworld Beauty (1958) / Intimidation (1960) / Pale Flower (1964). Guillen previews RARE NOIR's epic "Japon Negro" triple bill featured on Saturday afternoon, March 20.
Erin Blackwell, Bay Area Reporter
",,,[T]here's no more infectious paean to anarchy than one of two Greek films on the menu, Nikos Koundouros' O Drakos, or The Ogre of Athens (1956)"
Valerie Soe, BeyondAsiaPhilia.com
"I love American film noir but I love the idea of global noir even more, and I'm totally amped that the Roxie is presenting this brilliant series. Don't miss it."
Daniel Barnes, E Street Film Society
"[PALE FLOWER] leads to one of the most bleak and beautiful denouements I've ever seen—an operatic moment of violence, a gut punch final scene, and an exchange of such pure resignation at the impenetrability of corruption and the futility of morality that it makes "Forget it, Jake…it's Chinatown" look like a greeting card sentiment."
Mike Dub, E Street Film Society
""[ASSAULT ON THE PAY TRAIN] teems with fresh energy...It gradually develops into a power indictment of race-based poverty that is years ahead of its time."
Bonnie Steiger, SF Movie Examiner
French Film Noir Reurns: Roxie Theater, San Francisco Alliance Française
Which Movies To See This Weekend, Dec. 12, SF Gate, Mick LaSalle
Risqué French Film Noirs Are a Revelation, SF Gate, Mick LaSalle
Crème de la Crème -- Film Noir Series Brings Back Festival Favorites, SF Examiner, Bonnie Steiger
Crème de la Crème Of "The French Had A Name For It", Art Film Bay Area
The French Had a Name for It: A Gallic Twist on an American Genre, Eat Drink Films, Pam Grady
Post-war French Affairs, Bay Area Reporter, Erin Blackwell
Roxie Theater Gets Dark and Dirty with Film Noir Series, The Daily Californian, Jeremy Siegel interviews Elliot Lavine and Don Malcolm
The French Had A Name For It -- Noir Festival at the Roxie Theater, SF Examiner, Bonnie Steiger
Noir Repatriated, SF Weekly, Jonathan Kiefer
The French Had a Name for It, The Evening Class, Michael Guillen
Fi ve To Watch: French Kisses and Kicks to the Head, KQED Arts, Michael Fox
Files are available in Acrobat PDF format.
"Repudiated on its 1961 release by the tough-talking clergyman who inspired it, The Hoodlum Priest remains as obsure and intriguing as ever."
Dennis Brown onThe Hoodlum Priest
"Advise and Consent , both in its astonishingly complex and lucid total organisation and in the concrete realisation of its smallest details, reveals the mind of a master."
Robin Wood essay on Advise and Consent
Don Murray, The Unsung Hero—The Evening Class Interview With Don Malcolm - Michael Guillen, The Evening Class
A Not-to-Be-Missed Film Retrospective: A Tribute to The Amazing Career of Don Murray - Gar Smith, The Berkeley Daily Planet
The Many Lives of Don Murray - David Lamble, Bay Area Reporter
A Very Special Weekend with Don Murray - Bonnie Steiger, SF Examiner
Roxie Offers Fresh Look at Forgotten Star Don Murray's Films - G. Allen Johnson, SF Gate
A Special Weekend with Don Murray - Discovering Don - Jonathan Kiefer, SF Weekly
A Singular Career: The Roxie Pays Tribute to Actor Don Murray - Cinezine Kane
Unsung Hero: Don Murray - Tim Sika, EatDrinkFilms.com
Simone Signoret stars in The Cheat/Manèges on Sunday evening, November 6.
Bernard Blier in The Seventh Juror / Le septième jurée
Serge Reggiani in Marcel Carné's The Gates of the Night / Les portes de la nuit.
Françoise Arnoul in The Lovers of Lisbon/Les amants du Tage
Zbigniew Cybulski in Ashes and Diamonds
Mai Zetterling in Torment/Het
Brigitte Bardot in The Light across the Street/ La lumiere d'en face
Gérard Oury in Edouard Molinaro's Le dos au mur / Back to the Wall
Henri Vidal in Henri Verneuil's Une manche et la belle/A Kiss for a Killer
Michèle Morgan in There's Always a Price Tage/Retour de Manivelle
Franco Fabrizi and Lino Ventura in Un témoin dans la ville / Witness in the City.
Robert Hossein in Chair de poule / Highway Piickup.
Black Hair / Geomeun Meoripagadori
Sin Alley / Bunfald
Margo Lopez in Salon Mexico
Robert Hossein in Le monte-charge / Paris Pickup