Sunday, October 26, 2008

Film Noir at AFI Silver

Today I saw Sunset Boulevard and Detour at the AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Sunset Boulevard stars William Holden, who, like Paul Newman, played handsome and charming fellows wracked by inner torment. Holden in particular had a sardonic streak, a jaded wisdom about the nasty way the world works. And so he's good at playing Norma Desmond's kept man.

The film gives Norma Desmond a raw deal. It plays Norma's desire of and conquest of Holden' Joe Gillis as grotesque and shameful. What's wrong with an older lady getting horny? Nothing, I say!

Setting her hots aside, she's a nut and the movie's a hoot.

Detour is a low budget indie in which a guy falls in with Ann Savage, who is an aggressive, mean, and generally awesome femme fatale who also tries to nail the protagonist. Where Norma Desmond's helpless wealthy indulgence succeeds, Savage's ball busting venomous manipulation fails.

Detour elicited a lot of laughs from the audience - it's a real hoot. The protagonist has a nightmare of bad luck, and Savage is amazing as a supremely nasty grifter.

The Noir City DC series showed no private eye movies, but had good stuff nonetheless. I hope they succeed in making this an annual event and maybe get The Big Sleep in there. When these movies first came out, you could probably see five for a nickel or something ridiculous like that. Still, the premium is worth it to help support a theater like the AFI.

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