Music Box Theatre’s Noir City Returns for 10th Impressive Homage to the Genre

The landmark 10th anniversary of the Music Box Theatre’s Noir City Chicago kicks off on Friday, Aug. 17. A film festival made up of noir and neo-noir classics throughout film history, its opening night is a tribute to writer/director Carl Franklin, who will be on hand to present and discuss the double-bill of his 1995 unsung classic Devil in a Blue Dress at 7pm (starring Denzel Washington and a scene-stealing Don Cheadle) and his 1992 masterpiece One False Move at 9:45pm (starring the late Bill Paxton as well as Billy Bob Thornton, who also co-wrote the screenplay), which the late Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel picked as his favorite film of that year.

Noir City 2018
Image courtesy of Music Box Theatre

Weekend shows during Noir City (running through August 23) will be presented by Eddie Muller, host of Turner Classic Movie’s “Noir Alley,” which is a sponsor of the event, while weeknight shows will be hosted by the Film Noir Foundation’s Alan K. Rode, author of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film. The week is co-presented by the Film Noir Foundation.

Highlights of the films included are 1945’s Conflict (Saturday, Aug. 18, 3pm), one of Humphrey Bogart’s rarest films and one of the earliest made in the noir movement (since it was actually shot in 1943). It’s paired with Escape in the Fog (5pm) from director Oscar “Budd” Boetticher, who is best known for helming a great number of popular Westerns. At 7pm that night is The Blue Dahlia (1956), from director George Marshall, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, featuring the only original screenplay from legendary detective novel writer Raymond Chandler. This will be paired with Strange Impersonation, directed by Anthony Mann.

As a way of unofficially extending its recent retrospective on Michael Curtiz, the Music Box is playing the filmmaker’s 1947 noir work The Unsuspected (Sunday, Aug. 19, 2pm) in a restored 35mm print, paired with Blind Spot (4:15pm) from director Robert Gordon. Burt Lancaster plays a Prohibition-era bootlegger in 1948’s I Walk Alone (6:15pm) in a new digitally restored version, paired with Bodyguard (8:30pm), with Lawrence Tierney, directed by Richard Fleischer, with a story credit by a 20-something Robert Altman.

Edward G. Robinson and Lancaster star in 1948’s All My Sons (based on the Tony award-winning play by Arthur Miller; Monday, Aug. 20, 7pm), which is paired with The Spiritualist (9:15pm), directed by Bernard Vorhaus. On Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 7pm, Noir City presents a brand new 35mm restoration of The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950), starring Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt. This is paired with I Was a Shoplifter (9pm), from director Charles Lamont, featuring early performances by Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson.

The People Against O’Hara (Wednesday, Aug. 22, 7pm) features Spencer Tracy’s only entry in the film noir pantheon in this 1951 work from director John Sturges, followed by Pickup (9:15pm), directed by Hugo Haas. The final night (Thursday, Aug. 23) of Noir City features 1952’s The Turning Point (7pm), directed by William Dieterle and starring Edmond O’Biren and William Holden, followed by a rare 35mm archival print (said to be one of the seldom seen films noir of the 1950s) of The Scarlet Hour (9pm), yet another work by Michael Curtiz, starring Carol Ohmart and Tom Tryon.

Festival passes are $85/$75 for Music Box Theatre members; opening night tickets are $12/$9 for members; and single feature tickets are $11/$7 for members. The core of Noir City is a trip through the original film noir era, comprising chronological A and B double features of both legendary and obscure films (thus all the “pairing” of films in the daily schedule). Double-feature tickets are $15/$12 for members and include admission to both A and its corresponding B film.

The complete schedule for Noir City Chicago, tickets, and descriptions of every film can be found at the event’s page here.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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