Noir City Emerges From the Shadows

Film festival delves into film noir deep cuts

The Killing

After World War II ended, American films began to be shown again in France, where film critics and writers noted a darker, more cynical attitude in many of them, coining the term film noir. That phrase at first described just a small grouping of films, many of them classics: The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Killers (1946) Out of the Past (1947), Detour (1945), and In a Lonely Place (1950) among them. Film noir repertory series and later VHS and DVD sold, many willing to take a chance exploring any work so labeled because many were really excellent. Gaining popularity over the years, it became an all too liberally applied stamp to a number of films that barely matched the attributes. Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro once argued that any black-and-white film was a noir, and some color as well. The marketers must have heard him, and believed. It's no surprise that the Noir City Film Festival, hosted this year by the Alamo Ritz, is not only faithful, but features some of the more neglected titles of the genre.

Take a chance on any of these titles, but two of the best were directed by the somewhat overlooked Robert Siodmak. The Killers is the finest adaptation of Hemingway on film, and Criss Cross depicts a moral universe so corrupt that only the naive are decent, but oh, so easily done in. For the hardcore fan, Phil Karlson's Kansas City Confidential is definitely worth it. Whereas Siodmak is stylish and eloquent, Karlson is brutal and street-wise. Not as good as the gut-punch pulp of The Phenix City Story, which I saw too young, and from which I have never fully recovered, but Karlson's ruthless cinema delivers. (And while not in the Noir City series, if you haven't seen In a Lonely Place or Out of the Past ....)

Noir City Film Festival

All screenings at the Alamo Ritz

Armored Car Robbery (1950) Saturday, 7pm.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Saturday, 1pm.

Criss Cross (1949) Saturday, 4pm.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Saturday, 9:30pm.

Cash on Demand (1961) Sunday, 8pm.

The Killing (1956) Sunday, 2:30pm.

Rififi (1954) Sunday, 5pm.

Violent Saturday (1950) Sunday, noon.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Noir City Film Festival
Noir City Film Festival Returns
Noir City Film Festival Returns
This year's fest highlights a forgotten master

Richard Whittaker, May 8, 2015

More by Louis Black
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

July 14, 2017


Noir City Film Festival, Robert Siodmak, Phil Kalson, High Sierra, The Killers, The Asphalt Jungle, Criss Cross, The Killing, Violent Saturday, Kansas City Confidential, Armored Car Robbery, Cash on Demand, Rififi

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle