Monday, January 23, 2012

Noir City...was Dana Andrews gay? "Gilda" & "Maltese Falcon" to screen at Castro Theatre!

Excited film buffs - some in period costumes - dashed into the theatre to snatch up prime orchestra seats, on the mezzanine level vendors flogged Film Noir memorabilia (which sold at a face pace), and Dana Andrews' daughter uttered up some startling revelations about her father.

Noir City - a week-long festival of films of the B-list genre - kicked off over the weekend at the Castro Theatre and underscored the obvious.

Black & White classics from the 40's and 50's have become a staple for American filmgoer and quite the entertaining cinematic experience.

By the way, Noir City is the only Film Festival that donates 100% of its profits to rescue, restore, and preserve endangered films.

"If at-risk films aren't preserved in 35-millimeter in the next two years, it could be too late. Saving films in their original celluloid format is the only way to ensure their survival in any media," host Eddie Muller noted solemnly in a recent press release.

Last night, ticket holders were treated to two films (for the paltry sum of $10) - "Laura" and "Bedalia" - under the auspices of Noir City as a tribute to writer Vera Caspary.

"Laura" is an scintillating tale about a detective (Dana Andrews) who falls in love with a murder victim (Gene Tierney).

The Oscar-winning cinematography, outstanding performances by the ensemble cast of actors, and flawless direction by Otto Preminger still captivate today.

In a Q & A before the screening, Susan Andrews took to the stage and proceeded to share a few intimate thoughts about her father.

For starters, she wondered aloud if Dana Andrews was played both sides of the fence.

"He flirted with his co-star Clifton Webb. If he was gay, I don't know," she confided to the rapt audience hanging on every word.

"My father was incredibly handsome and he knew his power."

Ms. Andrews noted - with a bit of humor - that her father never starred in a film until "Laura" happened along.

"After Laura was released, he always got the girl," she laughed.

And, there was no looking back for Dana Andrews, after that.

Andrews went on to star in a handful of delicious film noir projects.

Years later, Peter Falk allegedly fessed up that he fashioned the look of the "Colombo" character (sporting a fedora and topcoat) after Andrews' detective in "Laura".

What a tribute!

"Bedalia", also on the bill, is a rarer Noir film (starring luminiscent Margaret Lockwood) which was produced in England (and often overlooked by film historians).

Ms. Lockwood's beguiling portrayal of a woman with a hypnotic power over men (and a murky past) is riveting.

Here, Lockwood gives new meaning to the term "Black Widow" in spades!

Tonight, the Castro presents "Gilda" (which is expected to sell-out).

Once this flick hit the big screen, critics - and fans alike - hailed Rita Hayworth as one of Hollywood's greatest "Love Goddesses".

Later in the week, the 1949 production of - The Great Gatsby (starring Alan Ladd) - will probably garner a lot of attention, too.

Fans will undoubtedly storm the theatre later in the week for a screening of The Maltese Falcon as well.

See 'ya there!

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