LA Noir - 1/27
In honor of sister channel TNT's six-part limited series I Am the Night, TCM presents a double feature of highly celebrated films from 1949-50. Like the series, these films are drenched in the atmosphere of Los Angeles noir - a genre that reveals the dark and shadowy side of this glittering city.
I Am the Night, which premieres this month, was inspired by true events and tells the story of a teenage girl (India Eisley) who was given away at birth and discovers that her past involves L.A.'s legendary "Black Dahlia" slaying. Chris Pine stars as a reporter who is haunted by the case, and the series is directed by Carl Franklin (Devil in Blue Dress, 1995), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, 2017), and Victoria Mahoney (Yelling to the Sky, 2011).
Act of Violence (1949), the first film noir on our double bill, was one of the earliest movies to focus on the troubled life of some veterans returning home from World War II. Fred Zinnemann directs a cast headed by Van Heflin as the survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who is hailed as a war hero after returning to California. Robert Ryan plays a fellow survivor in pursuit of Heflin because of his betrayal of fellow prisoners. Costarring are Janet Leigh as Heflin's wife, Phyllis Thaxter as Ryan's girlfriend and Mary Astor as a prostitute involved in the conflict. Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times that the film is a "tour de force" for Zinnemann, and that the director keeps "the pursued and the pursuer going at a grueling pace."
In a Lonely Place (1950), directed by Nicholas Ray and based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, stars Humphrey Bogart as a hot-tempered, down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter who is suspected of murdering a hatcheck girl. Gloria Grahame costars as the aspiring actress who falls in love with the writer despite his violent tendencies, with Frank Lovejoy and Carl Benton Reid playing police detectives investigating the crime. The movie was well-reviewed upon its premiere, and its critical reputation has only grown over the years. Critic Roger Ebert included it in his list of "great films," and L.A. Confidential (1997) director Curtis Hanson calls the artistic partnership between director Ray and actor Bogart "breathtaking."