What has become one of my favorite repertory film festivals in Chicago begins tonight, Aug. 25 to Thursday, Aug. 31 “Noir City: Chicago—The Big Knockover” returns to the Music Box Theatre with a wider breadth of titles from all over the world—and the 20th century—than in previous years, beginning with a 20th anniversary, 35mm presentation of L.A. Confidential, directed by the late Curtis Hanson, and featuring a post-screening Q&A with author James Ellroy. The film stars early American film debuts from Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, as well as an Oscar-winning turn from Kim Basinger. The evening concludes with a rarely screening 35mm print of the 1954 adaptation of the television hit Dragnet, starring Jack Webb, who also directed. The film is a personal favorite of Ellroy, who will introduce the screening.
Film Noir Foundation (a co-presenter of the event, along with TCM’s Noir Alley) president Eddie Muller will introduce films during opening weekend, with nearly all works screened in 35mm. Titles showing during the weekend as part of the latest installment of “Noir City: Chicago” include: Kansas City Confidential (1952); Drive A Crooked Road (1954), starring Mickey Rooney, playing against type; France’s Classe Tous Risque (1960), from director Claude Sautet; The Aura (2005) from Argentine director Fabián Bielinsky, whose only other film was the fantastic Nine Queens; High Sierra (1941), directed by Raoul Walsh, with a screenplay by John Huston, and starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart; Plunder Road (1957); Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (1974), written and directed by Michael Cimino, and starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges; and Blue Collar (1978), directed by Paul Schrader, and starring Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto.
Rounding out the festival during the week (with screenings introduced by noted film writer and FNF board member Alan K. Rode) are such works as Cash on Demand (1961), starring Peter Cushing; Odd Man Out (1947), directed by Carol Reed (two years before The Third Man), and starring James Mason; The Brink’s Job (1978), directed by William Friedkin, and starring Peter Falk and Peter Boyle; Six Bridges to Cross (1955), starring Tony Curtis; Charley Varrick (1973), directed by Don Siegel, and starring Walter Matthau, playing on a double-bill Wednesday night with Matthau’s 1974 triumph The Taking of Pelham One Two Three; The Asphalt Jungle (1950), directed by John Huston, and starring Sterling Hayden, closing out the festival with Quiet Please: Murder (1942), starring George Sanders.
Festival passes are $85 ($70 for Music Box Theatre members); tickets purchased Monday through Thursday are good for a double feature on the day of purchase. To see the complete list of films, screening schedule and to purchase advance tickets, go to the Music Box’s website.