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Archive: Fall 2008

Film Noir Meets
the Women's Film
October 23 & 24

Some of the more famous examples of film noir follow the hard-boiled tradition, featuring morally ambiguous detectives roaming the tough and dirty streets while being lead astray by the evil femme fatale. Film noir also finds its roots in Gothic melodrama, however, leading to a subgenre that combines elements of the woman’s film with film noir. These films feature female protagonists, address the concerns of women at the time and often take place in the home. Sudden Fear and Gilda are two outstanding examples of this subgenre, featuring strong performances by Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth as women who blur the lines between actress and character as well as protagonist and villain. Also of note are the intense performances of Jack Palance and Glenn Ford as “hommes fatales.” These unconventional characterizations parallel the shifting and strained gender relations that evolved during and after World War II.

—Curator Kimberly Yaari,
Associate Director, Film and Video Center


Thursday, October 23 • 7pm
Sudden Fear

Sudden Fear

Legend has it that Joan Crawford fought against having Jack Palance as her leading man, protesting that he was the ugliest man in Hollywood. Her producer finally prevailed by convincing her that her character had to be sympathetic—and Palance was the only actor in town who was scarier than she was. The result was Sudden Fear, a thriller that earned Oscar nominations for both actors as well as for its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. Crawford plays Myra Hudson, a successful playwright and heiress who insists that actor Lester Blaine (Palance) be fired from the Broadway production of her new play because he doesn’t look properly romantic. But when she takes a train back home to San Francisco, they meet again, and this time she falls head over heels in love. Before long they’re married. A wedding photo in the New York City newspapers brings Blaine’s old girlfriend, Irene (Gloria Grahame) back into his life. The two start plotting Hudson’s murder—but when Hudson stumbles onto the scheme, she starts concocting a plot of her own.
—Bret Fetzer,

Directed by David Miller
1952, USA • 110 minutes • 35mm


Friday, October 24 • 7pm


All film noirs need deceit, betrayal, dialogue hard as diamonds--and dames even harder than that. But Gilda is one of the few with the dame front and center, and for good reason. Rita Hayworth shimmers in the 1946 classic, which spins on a tortured plot involving the title character (Hayworth); her imperious husband (George Macready), a ruthless casino owner and head of an Argentine tungsten cartel; and Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford), Gilda’s ex-lover and now her husband’s go-fer. But no one watches Gilda for the plot, except to learn that all the characters have secrets—perhaps even ones they would kill for. Hayworth captures Gilda’s vulnerability beneath her devil-may-care front (“If I’d been a ranch, they would have named me the Bar Nothing”). Not to be missed: Hayworth’s slinky striptease to “Put the Blame on Mame.”
—Anne Hurley,

Directed by Charles Vidor
1946, USA • 110 minutes • 35mm




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