A month of film noir classics

This November, Cinema Salem brings you four classics from the film noir canon. From cunning private eyes, to back-stabbing femmes fatales, to mind-bending criminal conspiracies, we’ll take you on a trip through Hollywood’s dark side


Mon., Nov. 1, 7:00 pm
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Thur., Nov. 4, 7:00 pm
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Over the course of just four co-starring features in the 1940s, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall became perhaps Hollywood's most iconic leading pair, and this 1946 Howard Hawks feature did more than any other film to cement their shared star status. Based on Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled debut novel (via a script co-written by William Faulkner), THE BIG SLEEP follows a no-nonsense detective (Bogart as Phillip Marlowe) as he takes on a high-society blackmail case that unravels a rich family's connections to the criminal underworld. The film's tangled plot, cynical worldview, and stark black and white images are all hallmarks of the classic noir.


Sun., Nov. 7, 11:00 am
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Thur., Nov. 11, 7:00 pm
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True to its title, this story of a man’s desperate attempt to outrun his demons is played out amid flashbacks and recollections. From a script doctored by famed crime writer James M. Cain, OUT OF THE PAST features a never-better Robert Mitchum, with Jane Greer as his treacherous lover and Kirk Douglas as his nemesis. Director Jacques Tourneur cut his teeth on cheap but stylish B-movies (CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE), and his flair for velvety shadows and dramatic lighting perfectly matches OUT OF THE PAST’s operatic emotion. This is film noir at its most achingly beautiful.


Sun., Nov. 14, 11:00 am
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Thur., Nov. 18, 7:00 pm
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Many words have been used to describe Mike Hammer, the private-eye character created by pulp-fiction phenomenon Mickey Spillane: brutish, sadistic, misanthropic. All words that could also be applied to Robert Aldrich’s KISS ME DEADLY, a no-holds-barred take on the noir that anticipates DIRTY HARRY, GET CARTER, and Liam Neeson’s entire late career. In this scrappy independent production (much of which was shot on the street in LA’s run-down Bunker Hill district), Ralph Meeker as Hammer faces off against a criminal cabal that’s after “the great whatsit,” a device that may grant them unstoppable power. Aldrich’s unflinching adaptation takes all the mean words for Mike Hammer and adds one more: apocalyptic.


Sun., Nov. 28, 11:00 am
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Thur., Dec. 2, 7:00 pm
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If you close your eyes and picture a detective from an old black-and-white movie, there’s a better than even chance you’re imagining Walter Neff, played by Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY. The only trouble is that Neff is no street-smart private dick, just a mild-mannered insurance salesman who saw a woman too hot to handle and a deal too good to be true. Based on the classic novel by James M. Cain (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE), Wilder’s film also stars the great Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, a bored housewife whose indecent proposal pulls Neff off the straight and narrow. One of the earliest and best of the noirs, DOUBLE INDEMNITY still bears the standard for bleak and beguiling Hollywood drama.