The first day I was out wandering around San Francisco a couple weeks ago I picked up the flier for the 8th Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival, which was going down at the Castro Theater. I looked it over and thought to myself, “Hmm, why the hell not?” This was one of those whims I indulged while traveling that turned out to be friggin’ awesome.
You can imagine that the poster alone caught my eye, for obvious reasons. The only way it could have been more up my alley is if the girl in the picture was a redhead.
This really was one of the coolest things I’ve been to. I wish I could find a way to be in SFO every year to participate. The night I had free happened to coincide with the evening billed as Bad Girls Night. I was in. After work I got in a quick workout — after snapping a few pictures of the immediate area around where I was staying — then headed for downtown San Francisco.
The movies I got to see were One Girl’s Confession (1953) and Women’s Prison (1955). If you are a film buff, and like old movies in particular, you would be in heaven for this. Imagine a big, fancy old theater, roughly 1500 people or so, all hooting and hollering over these beautifully-preserved prints. I mean, these films looked great, and on the Castro’s giant screen? Divine.
All of the ushers — mostly curvy women — were dressed in period outfits, like they had just stepped out of the movie. Many of the movie goers were dressed up too, which was pretty cool. I had a great time; it was very interactive, with cheers when the femme fatale appeared on screen, laughter at some choice one-liners (I wish I could remember a couple, because they were classic), etc. What I can’t wait for is these movies are going to be part of a boxed set that Sony is releasing.
This guy in the leather jacket, Grover Crisp, is Sony’s Vice President of Asset Management and Film Restoration. He was brought on stage for a brief interview. For 20+ years he has been in charge of cataloging and restoring Sony’s film library. That can’t be an easy gig. It was an interesting little discussion, and the quality of the film prints speak to the work this guy’s team has been doing.
The MC also talked about how people come from great distances to attend the festival, and invited the guy who had come, as far as he knew, the farthest, up on stage. The dude was from Germany! Anyway, he mugged for the cameras a little bit, and they took this shot of him with the current, and two previous, poster girls for the event.
Here is a link to more pictures from the evening.
In the lobby between movies they had merch tables selling stuff; my fingers were itching, no doubt, but I didn’t want to have a ton of stuff to haul home with me. Luckily a lot of it is available online. Particularly the posters.
Speaking of posters, artist/illustrator Owen Smith was also there signing prints of his work. I love this stuff. He’s one of those guys whose work I’ve seen, but didn’t know his name. Now I’ll never forget. Seems a real nice guy too.
“M” is for Mystery bookstore in San Mateo was there and had a table piled high with Hard Case Crime books. When I visited the store a couple days later, I discovered you can order Smith’s work from them. I will definitely be following up on that!
Also made a note to get ahold of this bit of awesomeness at some point too.
It was the most fun I’ve had going to the movies in a while. I was tempted to skip the next night’s planned rock show to go to another installment of Noir City, but didn’t. And that turned out well anyway, which I will address in my next, and final, post about my trip to San Francisco. But if you ever get a chance to go, and have any interest at all in these types of films, by all means — GO!