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Night falls at the Cinematheque

March 31, 2008|Susan King

The American Cinematheque's popular "Return to Noir City" film festival celebrates its 10th anniversary Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

Presented in conjunction with the Film Noir Foundation, the three-week excursion into the world of black-and-white atmospheric cinematography, femme fatales and complex heroes in hats and rumpled trench coats features classic titles in the genre's canon.

But the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller always delivers some deliciously entertaining rarities, and this year is no exception.

"We have lasted long enough [as a festival] and proven to be popular enough with these festivals that the studios are cooperating with us now in finding and restoring films that weren't available previously for theatrical exhibition," he says. "When we rediscover these things, they have a new life theatrically."

Among this year's finds is the 1948 thriller "Night Has a Thousand Eyes," screening April 18, with Edward G. Robinson as a fake carnival mentalist who suddenly has the ability to see into the future.

"Nobody has seen that for decades," Muller says. "That is a Paramount film . . . and has a major director in John Farrow. How does a film like that fall off the radar? I honestly don't know. Some films just vanish."

Other films in the festival were given short shrift when they were released more than half a century ago, such as the Steve Cochran double-bill screening April 17: 1951's "Tomorrow Is Another Day" and 1950's "Highway 301."

"Those are both Warner Bros. pictures," Muller says. "I am determined to have 'Tomorrow Is Another Day' totally reevaluated and added to the canon of great noir films. It's fantastic."

"Tomorrow" is a fugitives-on-the-lam thriller starring tough guy Cochran as an ex-con who has never been with a woman. Ruth Roman plays a dime-a-dance femme fatale who becomes his first.

"It just fell through the cracks because the noir thing was kind of running out of gas and the studios were rethinking everything," Muller says. "A lot of these lower-budget films with no huge stars didn't have a real push [from the studios] and just disappeared."

For more information and the complete lineup, go to

-- Susan King

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