I realize that even after only two days of Noir City DC, I am woefully behind on my coverage of the event. Friday night's second double feature included Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece (and I think it's totally deserving of that honor) Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and a film that should certainly be seen more widely (especially considering the current political landscape), Address Unknown (1944).
People often ask me what's the difference between the audiences at Noir City San Francisco and Noir City DC. First, there's a much greater number of people at the San Francisco festival (few empty seats for any film). Second, the San Francisco audiences are very savvy and are well-versed in their noir. That's not to say that the DC audiences are lagging behind or are less experienced, but San Francisco audiences are typically more vocal in their appreciation of the films/performers/creators.
Yet the DC audience for Shadow of a Doubt closely mirrored the reaction of the SF audience for the same film back in January, laughing at just the right places, and responding to Joseph Cotten's famous speech about widows with the same degree of humor and revulsion. This was clearly the festival favorite (at least so far) in DC.
As always, Alan K. Rode did a fine job with his introductions of both films, talking about Hitchcock's enjoyment in making Shadow of a Doubt, the symbolism in the film, and much more. One thing Rode mentioned that I'd never noticed is the opening of the film's similarity to the opening of The Killers (1946), which we'll view on Friday. I think Shadow of a Doubt is frequently an audience favorite wherever it's shown. It was certainly a big hit when we screened it at the library a couple of years ago for our Great Movies series.
Address Unknown is a film that's literally screaming to be seen, perhaps as much now as it was in 1944. You can read more about it (and Shadow of a Doubt) from my Noir City San Francisco post from earlier this year. Rode pointed out that it's rare for a "B" picture to contain such extraordinary visuals (with cinematography by Rudolph Maté) and to receive two Oscar nominations: Morris Stoloff and Ernst Toch for Best Original Score, and Lionel Banks, Walter Holscher, and Joseph Kish for Best Art Direction. It's a real treasure.
More next time - Please stay tuned!