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  The Art of Film Noir II

Curated by Ron Foley Macdonald

Now recognized as one of the most sharply defined of all popular cinematic styles, Film Noir’s reach moved past its Southern California origins to influence filmmakers around the world. In this second series of Noirs presented by the Dalhousie Art Gallery, that global reach is represented by films from England, France, and Japan, with a concentration on films by American directors who were ultimately blacklisted in Hollywood, including Abraham Polonsky, Frank Tuttle, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Cy Endfield, Jules Dassin, and Joseph Losey.


27 January - This Gun For Hire
Frank Tuttle, USA, 1942, 80 minutes. A lone hitman gets double-crossed in this early Film Noir adapted from Graham Greene’s novel.

3 February – Laura
Otto Preminger, USA, 1944, 88 minutes. The famous title song isn’t the only thing that haunts Preminger’s legendary detective tale about a now-you-see-her-now-don’t beauty allegedly murdered under mysterious circumstances.

10 February - Ministry of Fear
Fritz Lang, USA, 1944, 86 minutes. Graham Greene’s taut wartime betrayal story becomes a visual feast under the great German expat’s direction.

17 February - Out of the Past
Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1947, 97 minutes. Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas duel it out over a deadly femme fatale in this renowned Noir celebrated for its razor-sharp dialogue.

24 February – The Woman on the Beach
Jean Renoir, USA, 1947, 71 minutes. Renoir’s American exile produced some remarkable films drenched in atmosphere and dread. The Woman on the Beach sees Noir fave Robert Ryan unravelling a seaside mystery about a blind painter and his ambiguous wife.

2 March - Force of Evil
Abraham Polonsky, USA, 1948, 78 minutes. John Garfield stars as a Wall Street lawyer mixed up with racketeers and the mob in this landmark film about the line between loyalty and corruption.

16 March - Stray Dog
Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1949, 122 minutes. An impossibly young Toshirô Mifune plays a detective in post-war Tokyo who must recover his own stolen gun in this extraordinary example of how Film Noir became a truly international style.

23 March - The Third Man
Carol Reed, UK/Austria, 1949, 104 minutes. Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton star in this luminous Graham Greene adaptation that explores the black market in a divided, post WWII Vienna where morality has drifted very far from its pre-war settings.

30 March – The Underworld Story
Cy Endfield, USA, 1950, 91 minutes. A small town newspaper gets into the big time when renegade reporter Dan Duryea sniffs out a scandal in this ferocious critique of the media by soon-to-be-blacklisted director Cy Endfield (Zulu, The Mysterious Island).

6 April - Gun Crazy
Joseph H. Lewis, USA, 1950, 86 minutes. Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo wrote this classic Noir about a bullet-happy love couple on the run after a bank robbery, directed in high style by Joseph H. Lewis.

13 April - The Prowler
Joseph Losey, USA, 1951, 92 minutes. The Prowler features another script by Trumbo, this time about an obsessed cop, a repressed housewife, and her husband, who might just get knocked off in firm Film Noir style; directed by the soon-to-be blacklisted Losey.

4 May - The Sniper
Edward Dmytryk, USA, 1952, 88 minutes. This San Francisco-set Noir classic by the blacklisted Dymtryk sees a young man unable to stop himself from shooting, and the police action set in place to stop him. 

11 May - Rififi
Jules Dassin, France, 1955, 122 minutes. From director Dassin, who, like Losey, had fled to Europe due to the blacklist, comes one of the greatest heist films ever with a set piece burglary sequence that takes place in total silence.

18 May - The Night of the Hunter
Charles Laughton, USA, 1955, 92 minutes. One of the most eerie and unique of all Noirs, The Night of the Hunter sees Robert Mitchum chasing down his stepchildren in search of a cache of cash. James Agee scripted; Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish also star.

25 May - Kiss Me Deadly
Robert Aldrich, USA, 1955, 106 minutes. Mickey Spillane’s delirious detective story takes Noir towards its stylistic endgame in this luridly directed classic by Robert Aldrich. The story is simple: a mystery box has been stolen....what’s in the box? Don’t open the box!


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Some notes about the Dalhousie Art Gallery’s
Film and Video Programs

The Dalhousie Art Gallery offers the longest-running fine art and repertory Film and Video Program east of Montreal. Ronald Foley Macdonald has been our Film and Video Curator for the past 15 years. He selects films to complement exhibition programs, and organizes special series on film history and culture. Ron is an organizer of the Atlantic Film and Video Festival. Through him, we also collaborate with the Atlantic Filmmakers’ Co-operative, providing a periodic space for local experimental films and rarely seen videos, and with the Annual Atlantic Film and Video Festival, for which we are now an official venue. Our popular Wednesday film/video screening and post-film discussion group extends participation in the critical discourse to new populations of students, faculty and the general public.

Our film program has three purposes:

  1. To animate specific exhibitions. For example, Film and Video by Robert Frank accompanied an exhibition of Frank’s photographs (1996); films on the Holocaust accompanied Herzl Kashetsky’s exhibiton A Prayer for the Dead (1998); the series Masters of Modern Sculpture accompanied the exhibition The Very Thing (2000); the series Space Aliens accompanied Bill Eakin’s exhibition of photographs of UFO sightings and alien culture, Have a Nice Day (2001); and, more recently, the series “The sneaky everyday humour of the surreal” was programmed to accompany Lynne Cohen’s exhibition No Man’s Land (2001). Where an artist is a film or videomaker him- or herself, (as in the case of Robert Frank, or, more recently, Herménégilde Chiasson) we often present their cinematic and visual works together. Films are usually screened in the Main Gallery space, so correlations and references are easy to make, especially during the post-film discussion. For many people unused to looking at art, but comfortable with film, this program is an excellent way to prompt thinking about, and provide access to, contemporary art.
  2. To examine the history and nature of the film medium itself. Examples: Eisenstein and Soviet Cinema (organized in collaboration with the Russian Department in 1995), 100 years of the Cinema (a collaboration with King’s College Contemporary Studies Program, 1996), Female Filmmakers at Five (a collaboration with the Atlantic Film Festval 1997), and Six by Kurosawa (a survey of this prominent Japanese filmmaker’s art, 2001). This program often links up with and supports film studies in various postsecondary institutions across Halifax.
  3. To make a space for public screenings of Canadian films, and local experiemental film- and video-makers’ works. For example, we have screened works by Canadian film/videomakers Bill MacGillivray, Cameron Bailey, Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak, Herménégilde Chiasson, Cathy Martin, Sylvia Hamilton, Phil Comeau, Claude Jutra, Denis Arcand, and women filmmakers from the now defunct NFB Studio D. More recently, we presented First Nations Films at Five: The complete films of Alanis Obomsawin (in collaboration with the Atlantic Film Festival 2001).

We have also aligned our film program more closely with critical discussion in contemporary media arts, by asking our film curator to preface certain Gallery film series with illustrated lectures, and inviting film- and video-makers and critics to present and analyse their works (such as the visits by curator/critics Cameron Bailey and Peggy Gale, videomakers Doug Porter and Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak and filmmakers Sylvia Hamilton, Cathy Martin and Alanis Obomsawin). In addition, where appropriate,we arrange viewer access video programs to accompany exhibitions. These are set up in special viewing stations in the Gallery, where visitors may select videos from the program for themselves.

The Gallery’s Film and Video Program is generously supported by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

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