For the eighth year, Noir City is celebrating Hollywood’s overlooked gems.
The festival, running today through Jan. 31 at the Castro Theatre, features pictures considered classics as well as long-lost B-movies that rounded out a double feature when a night at the movies meant a special occasion.
“I have always felt that the magic of movies is that it’s this fascinating communal experience, which everybody experiences simultaneously, but they all experience it differently,” says Eddie Muller, a noir expert who has written several books on the subject.
Muller, founder of the Film Noir Foundation, and his compatriots want to preserve both the moviegoing experience and original film noir elements themselves, which are rapidly disappearing.
Screening at 7:30 p.m. Saturday is a restored version of “Cry Danger,” a 1951 production that was saved because of the people who made it, and its location.
Muller says, “Dick Powell was one of the original independent film producers in Hollywood, and a lot of his films are in danger of being lost because he was so independent. I’m also very much into films shot on location, so that you can actually see the places, where it becomes like a historical record. It actually takes place in Los Angeles, where you’re getting a look at the city as it was.”
Other festival highlights include a “Bad Girls of Noir” night, a Marilyn Monroe double feature, and 1959’s “Odds Against Tomorrow” starring Harry Belafonte, who was set to appear but canceled due to a scheduling conflict.
“When I’m in a theater and I feel a full house react to the film very strongly, and they’re gasping and applauding and laughing, I really feel a strong connection to the filmmakers,” Muller says. “I just think that’s where the magic of the movies comes in, and I want to try to keep that alive as much as possible.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco
When: Today through Jan. 31
Tickets: $10 for double features; $100 festival-long passport