Last week, SAM announced that Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, will retire in fall 2019 after seven years leading the institution. The Seattle Times shared the news in their Thursday print edition, featuring an interview with Kim. ARTNews, Artforum, and others picked up the news.
“On another front, the appointment of one more white man to a powerful museum position is not likely to sit well with those who have demanded greater diversity in such jobs. That call, heard widely throughout the field, was taken up by FAMSF staff in June, when a letter signed by more than 100 employees asked the board to seriously consider women and people of color during the search.”
Curbed Seattle highlights the Olympic Sculpture Park as one of “26 best places to visit in Seattle this fall,” calling a visit to the sculpture park “the easiest way to feel artsy in Seattle without needing to spend half a day inside a museum.”
“Considering that only last year Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel and Commissioner [of the Department of Cultural Affairs Mark] Kelly dedicated another mural I designed downtown for which I was asked to accept one dollar, you could say the City of Big Shoulders has wrung every bit of value they could from the fruits of my labor.”
Who can sleep when the night is a fever of perfume and gun smoke, the wails of saxophones and police sirens, when acting on impulse is better than a dream? Called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, this is the world’s longest-running film noir celebration. Get your series tickets online now or try your luck day of for standby tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.
September 27: White Heat
(Raoul Walsh, 1949)
A tense, wound-up gangster’s (James Cagney) inner demons are always threatening to boil over. He’s got a beautiful wife (Virginia Mayo), but his heart, his tormented emotions, are all tangled up with his mother (Margaret Wycherley). He sits in her lap while she soothes his pounding headaches. A robber and a killer, Cagney’s sent to prison, where he doesn’t know that his cellmate (Edmond O’Brien) is an undercover cop trying to ferret further incriminating information from him. On the outside, Mayo’s falling in with Cagney’s hunky rival (Steve Cochran). Behind bars, Cody’s cut off from his consoling and advising mother, and he rages out of control in a famous mess hall scene. O’Brien’s a simpatico cellmate, but Cagney’s just got to crash out and become the man Ma wants him to be: grasping, destroying, making it to the top of the world. In 35mm, 114 min.
October 4: Leave Her to Heaven
(John M. Stahl, 1945)
The sensuous, saturated visuals of this film convinced everyone that a knockout film noir could be in Technicolor. It’s novelist Cornell Wilde’s lucky day. On the train he meets a stunningly beautiful woman (green-eyed Gene Tierney), who’s reading, and enjoying, his latest book. Within a few days Wilde and this most romantic woman are deeply in love. In record time she scatters her beloved father’s ashes to the winds, riding fast through the New Mexico desert, jilts her fiancé, (Vincent Price) and announces her coming betrothal to Wilde. Tierney’s ardor for him is absolute, but it’s a weaponized devotion. She wants to command his attention and affection, and sometimes she wishes that his typewriter, his crippled brother (Darryl Hickman), and her sweet sister (Jeanne Crain) would just go away. Luscious 1940s art direction gives us a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired desert house, a Maine forest retreat and a comfy New England cottage. As Martin Scorsese says, “a lost paradise, its beauty ravished by the heroine’s perverse nature.” Critic-author David Thomson calls the film “a mad goddess creation; if you want a wild thrill one night, I know which way I’d go.” In 35mm, 110 min.
October 11: Force of Evil
(Abraham Polonsky, 1948)
Director Polonsky and actor John Garfield, both Bronx-born, both scarred by the anti-Communist witch hunts, crafted this gritty blank-verse poem of the urban jungle, that conflates a soul’s and a society’s corruption. America is devoted to making money and strategizing to make more. Nothing new there, but there are gradations of commitment and devotion to the pursuit. Corporate racketeer Ray Roberts is all in, scheming to monopolize the symbiotic relationship between illegal betting and the banks that provide the winnings, and lawyer Garfield will make it happen. He arranges for the July fourth lucky number seven-seventy-six to win all over New York, so all the small-time betting banks will have to borrow money from Roberts to pay so many winners, and then he’ll take them over. Garfield will make a cool million, but his conscience troubles him. His estranged brother Thomas Gomez is one of the little guys who’ll get squeezed. Is it too late for Garfield to act on his better nature? Or is he too far on a path “going down and down, to the bottom of the world.” Music by David Raksin (“Laura”). In 35mm, 87 min.
October 25: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1951)
Nicholas Ray is the cinematic poet of human alienation, and the saving grace of connection. He studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, and understands the shaping influence of the places we inhabit. Tough cop Robert Ryan is brutal with himself and others in New York’s concrete labyrinth. His youthful sports trophies? Who cares? When he breaks the rules and savagely beats a suspect, he yells, “Why do you punks make me do this?” To keep from getting fired, he’s sent from the dark city to pristine snow fields upstate. But human wildlife is everywhere, and he helps track a child-killer with a man (Ward Bond) bent on illegal vengeance. Is there any way Ryan can see a different way of being? The suspect’s sister (Ida Lupino), herself isolated geographically and in her blindness, tells Ryan, who trusts no one, that she has to trust everyone. Music by Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho). In 35mm, 82 min.
November 1: Sudden Fear
(David Miller, 1952)
Wealthy Broadway dramatist Joan Crawford rejects actor Jack Palance as the lead in her new play, but falls for him big-time on a train trip to San Francisco. They marry, and Crawford is deliriously happy: she’s found her leading man for life. But Palance is secretly writing his own life script, which features a major part for his smoldering ex-flame Gloria Grahame, who’s got her eyes on Crawford’s substantial bank balance. Add some newfangled 1950s technology, and the elements for one of film noir’s most suspenseful climaxes are firmly in place. In 35mm, 110 min.
November 8: Wicked Woman
(Russell Rouse, 1953)
This seedy, down-and-dirty gem features luscious B-movie siren Beverly Michaels as the new waitress at the bar where muscular Richard Egan mixes the drinks. She can’t keep her hands off him, he responds in kind, and she concocts a scheme to have him sell the bar and carry her off to Mexico. But there are complications. Egan’s alcoholic wife (Evelyn Scott) is the one who owns the bar. And toad-like little Percy Helton, who’s always had lustful eyes for Michaels, can ruin everything. Maybe there’s something she can do to keep her dream alive. In 35mm, 77 min.
November 15: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
Film noir usually presents the shadow side of the human psyche in adult terms. But Laughton’s masterpiece immerses us in a child’s view of a grown-up world of greed, violence and twisted sexuality that’s almost overwhelming, where adults loom like monsters and angels, and reality, fairy tale and nightmare merge. Via cinematographer Stanley Cortez’s searing images, Laughton floats us into a world where playing kids find the molested body of a woman in a cellar, and a dead woman sits at the bottom of a river, her hair streaming in the current. Where a Bible-crazed preacher with a knife (Robert Mitchum) tries to get little Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce to tell him where some money’s hidden. They won’t say, and they have to get away, floating on that river, watched by innocent animals. Laughton’s aesthetic of power-through-simplicity was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s seminal films, and Griffith’s great heroine, Lilian Gish, provides a sanctuary for lost children. She’s got a spine of steel, but Mitchum, worse than any boogey man, just keeps coming. With Shelley Winters, Peter Graves. Screenplay by James Agee and Laughton. In 35mm, 93 min.
November 29: Lilith
(Robert Rossen, 1964)
In the Bible and the Talmud, Lilith is a female demon, a destroyer of men. In film noir, femme fatales can be brash and harsh, or as softly seductive as a spider web in a beautiful meadow. A young man (Warren Beatty) with a war-wounded soul returns to his home town. He needs to rediscover who he is and find a purpose in life. Working at a park-like mental hospital, he comes under the spell of Lilith (Jean Seberg), an artistic woman who wants to share her love with the world. But Seberg’s golden aura casts shadows, ensnaring patient Peter Fonda, who touchingly speaks of the life he’ll lead after he’s released. Beatty goes home to sleep at night, but home is where the heart is. Great acting all around, with Beatty trying to gather, and find himself in his pauses and hesitations, and Gene Hackman tense and wonderful in his first film. But Seberg is the sun. With Kim Hunter. In 35mm, 114 min.
December 6: Heat
(Michael Mann, 1995)
Two men in L.A. Both hunters, both prey. One takes money that isn’t his own, the other tries to stop him. A criminal, a cop. Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. Ice and fire, coming to a boil. Cool and controlled, De Niro and his pals (Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore) pull off big robberies with military precision. Steamed-up, swaggering Pacino uses intuition and manpower to track them down, with limited success. Master stylist Michael Mann gives this monumental crime saga irresistible forward momentum, but everything stops so two great American actors, De Niro and Pacino, can appear together for the first time and have coffee. The outlaw and the lawman are both doing what they’re best at, and it’s their nature to keep on with it. But for moments out of time they talk about the fullness and emptiness of their lives, person to person. This isn’t a truce, there will be skirmishes, machine gun fire on downtown streets, people lying dead. They’ll meet again at the airport at night, out in the field, where planes glide like souls, some coming in, some leaving, on the soft sultry air. With Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman. Digital Cinema, 172 min.
Film/Life: Shadowland: The 39th Film Noir Series
Thursdays, Sep 29-Dec 11, 7:30 pm
Seattle Art Museum
Shadowland, where the past is haunted, but the future’s bright with big-money schemes. Where tough dames and wise guys live for midnight and hope to see the dawn. Where fate sings a blues tune and laughs in the dark.
Film noir is low-down, sexed-up, over the speed limit. It’s the juvenile delinquent child of brooding German Expressionist cinema aesthetics, French poetic realism, and American pulp fiction, godfathered by post-World-War-II malaise and timeless moral corruption.
The world’s longest running film noir celebration, called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, features a Top Pot doughnut opening night party.
September 29: Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947). “Film noir” is a French term, but it speaks eloquently to the American ethos of success at any price. Romantic matinee idol Tyrone Power stunned the world with his deep-delving portrayal of a carnival hustler who manipulates women and a gullible public to gain all the glittering prizes in life. Years ahead of its time, the film holds up a dark mirror to the show business of religion, and it gives a frightening whiff of a cunning animal hiding behind a respectable façade. In 35mm, 110 min.
October 6: The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946). Haven’t been to Cuba yet? Have we got a trip for you. One of the most evocative adaptations of master noir novelist Cornell Woolrich’s fictional world, The Chase centers on downtrodden war vet Robert Cummings. In Miami he finds, and returns, mobster Steve Cochran’s wallet. Hired to be Cochran’s chauffeur, Cummings meets the racketeer’s melancholy, victimized wife (Michele Morgan) and creepy henchman (Peter Lorre). Cummings is stirred by Morgan’s beauty, and her plight, and the film becomes a fever dream of escape to Havana, speeding cars and lurking menace. UCLA Film Archive 35mm print, 86 min.
October 20: T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1948). This gritty gem established the artistic reputations of director Anthony Mann and wizard noir cinematographer John Alton. Attempting to crack a Detroit counterfeiting ring, Treasury Agents Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder descend into a dangerous night world. Mann shows that there’s a thin line between the law and the lawless as the agents pose as hoods to infiltrate the gang. Alton’s camera bathes everything in cold shadow and hot light, and Wallace Ford has the cinema’s most memorable steam bath. With favorite gravel-voiced bad guy Charles McGraw. Library of Congress 35mm print, 91 min.
October 27: The Unsuspected (Michael Curtiz, 1947). Cultured and refined, the silky voice of Claude Rains tells tales of mystery and murder on his popular radio show. Obsessed with death and deception, as well as the need to gain control of a fortune and his niece’s opulent mansion, Rains plans to kill to get what he wants. And of course he will do it with finesse, as an exercise of his brilliant mind. Still, no matter how carefully he plans, blackmail, amnesia, and femme fatale Audrey Totter are beyond his control. Library of Congress 35mm print, 103 min. Screening includes a film discussion with critic Richard T. Jameson.
November 3: The Red House (Delmer Daves, 1947). This rare pastoral noir features the superb Edward G. Robinson as a crippled farmer who’s cared for by his devoted sister (Judith Anderson) and adopted daughter (Allene Roberts). Roberts has always been told to stay away from a strange, abandoned red house somewhere out in the woods, but one day she and hired hand Lon McCallister set out to find it. Twisted psyches, dark secrets and Miklos Rosza’s haunting music are sure to follow. Library of Congress 35mm print, 100 min.
November 10: Flaxy Martin (Richard Bare, 1949). An honest attorney (Zachary Scott) starts working for a crime syndicate. It’s not for the money—it’s the woman. He can’t resist mob boss Douglas Kennedy’s luscious girlfriend (Virginia Mayo), and she feels the same about him. But soon Scott’s trapped in a web of underworld machinations and sudden death. Maybe librarian Dorothy Malone can help. With the great Elisha Cook, Jr. as a small-time hood. Library of Congress 35mm print, 86 min.
November 17: The Prowler (Joseph Losey, 1951). Van Heflin appears to be a model policeman, but he’s out to get everything he can out of life, any way he can. The report of a prowler takes him to an affluent neighborhood, where he meets the lonely wife (Evelyn Keyes) of a popular, wealthy radio disc jockey (the voice of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo). Heflin sees the sad and shapely Keyes as a ticket to the good life, and starts scheming on the wrong side of the law. UCLA Film Archive restored 35mm print, 92 min. Screening includes a film discussion with critic Richard T. Jameson.
December 1: Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957). Powerhouse Burt Lancaster plays a ruthless Broadway gossip columnist who has more than brotherly feelings for his sister (Susan Harrison). “Susie’s all I’ve got,” he tells nervous press agent Tony Curtis as he orders him to ruin the career of Susie’s jazz musician boyfriend (Martin Milner). This proves to be no easy task, even in “a dirty town” where brutal power rules and souls are for sale. With poetic dialogue by Clifford Odets, James Wong Howe cinematography and hot Chico Hamilton Quartet jazz. Digital cinema restoration, 96 min.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014) Directed by Dan Gilroy
December 8: Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014). From the acid-dripping gossip columns of Sweet Smell of Success to the late-breaking video footage of Nightcrawler, the cynical, dark side of human nature makes news. An LA loner (Jake Gyllenhaal) fascinated by TV news starts shooting car wrecks and homicide scenes after the action’s over, and selling his footage to struggling news editor Rene Russo. His good artistic eye and gutsy pursuits advance his career, and one night he comes upon a crime as it’s happening. Does he pause to consider professional ethics, human decency and personal safety? Not for a second. Digital cinema, 104 min.