November will be film noir month at the Esquire Theatre, which means that, along with a half-dozen new films showing on a daily basis, the theater will be hosting a steady stream of special events with the majority focusing on classic film noir.
You could not plunge into the genre with a finer and more twisted film than Touch of Evil, a 1958 release that Orson Welles starred in and directed. This dark and thoroughly warped piece of cinema has become a cult classic. Tom Waits is a huge fan of it, and two of the scenes from it were mentioned in his list of all-time favorite movie scenes. For all the big names in the film – the actors include Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlena Dietrich, Dennis Weaver, and Orson Welles, and Henry Mancini recorded the soundtrack – it feels like a project where a B-movie script was handed to a film genius who both played by the rules and played with the rules, which is kind of what happened. Touch of Evil is playing November 1, 2, and 3; you do not want to miss it.
Wonderfully, Touch of Evil is paired on all three nights with Double Indemnity, a 1944 noir classic starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. The film was directed by Billy Wilder, and Raymond Chandler co-wrote the screenplay with Wilder. Fans of old-school TV shows will recognize MacMurray as the father on My Three Suns and Stanwyck as the grand matriarch on The Big Valley. Those are two very wholesome roles, but Double Indemnity reveals the real Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, back before TV came along and cleaned ’em up. In the black-and-white movie days they weren’t afraid to kill somebody for a little money, even if that somebody was a spouse. Again, Double Indemnity will be playing back to back with Touch of Evil on November 1, 2, and 3.
Other old-school noir classics showing in November include the original The Postman Always Rings Twice and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing. Nicely, the Esquire is also showing noir of more recent vintage, including Goodfellas, Mean Streets, and Body Heat. Also, two Coen Brothers films, Fargo and The Man Who Wasn’t There, will put their own particular spin on the genre much as Orson Welles did with Touch of Evil. The Esquire will also host some classic movies about elections, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart. To learn more about the upcoming special event films coming to the Esquire, click this link to the Special Event Calendar for the Esquire Theatre. We’ll see you at the movies!