February 22, 2022

This week—Thursday, February 24, to be precise—marks the UK launch of the latest Lillian Frost and Edith Head mystery, Idle Gossip. We love having cascading publication days, this being only the first one. The e-book will be available April 1, with the US print release to follow on May 3. Rest assured, we’ll make a note of each one.

We’ve had a lot to celebrate lately, as we had our first in-person event in two years. The Noir City film festival returned to Seattle, thanks to the Film Noir Foundation and SIFF. Our friend, TCM host Eddie Muller, was back as master of ceremonies. Thanks to his Noir Alley duties, he could only host the opening weekend. We were thrilled to introduce the movies for the remaining nights of the festival, sometimes together, something with Vince taking the stage solo. On Saturday, we even had a book signing (!!!) alongside Eddie, whose indispensable Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, was recently reissued in an updated edition.

It was astonishing, after two years of largely being hunkered down, to go out every night for a week. To see movies in a theater again, with an audience. To have dinner with friends. To drop into a bar between shows for a drink and chat with the bartender, with the people seated nearby. We didn’t really need the drinks, to be honest. Being out in the world again, seeing movies, was intoxicating enough.

For the first time, Seattle hosted the world premiere of the latest FNF restoration. The Argyle Secrets (1948), an early feature directed by Cy Endfield (Try and Get Me!, Zulu) is a wildly convoluted burlesque of The Maltese Falcon. It packs an amazing amount of plot into sixty-four minutes, yet somehow the most suspenseful sequence involves reporter William Gargan climbing through his former neighbors’ apartment window and desperately trying to bluff his way past them. No one’s calling it a masterpiece, but it’s lots of fun. As for the films we got to introduce—

Road House (1948). What a treat to show people the wonder that is Ida Lupino for the first time.

Naked Alibi (1954). The second half of a bad romance double-bill for Valentine’s Day. Gloria Grahame is the show here, and we were able to refer to Dana Delany’s extraordinary article on Grahame’s career for Noir City magazine.

A Double Life (1947). Oscar-winning suspense, courtesy of husband-and-wife writing team Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. We like husband-and-wife writing teams.

The Story of Molly X (1949). The hit of the festival, based on audience reaction. A nicely nasty women-in-prison film from Crane Wilbur.

Somewhere in the Night (1946). Vince got to point out that Josephine Hutchinson, whose spellbinding monologue to John Hodiak is easily the highlight of this Joseph L. Mankiewicz film, was a Seattle native.

He Walked by Night (1948). John Alton cinematography in 35mm on the big screen.

The Killer That Stalked New York (1950). The film, inspired by the true story of public health professionals containing a smallpox epidemic in 1947, prompted multiple spontaneous rounds of applause from the audience—and brought a tear to Rosemarie’s eye, given that she works in public health herself.

Fly-By-Night (1942). There was no better way to bring down the curtain than with one of the most entertaining B movies ever made.

Our thanks to Eddie, the FNF, SIFF, the staff at Seattle’s Egyptian Theatre, and the audiences who turned up night after night. Let’s do it again soon.

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