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Flagstaff readies for its first film noir festival

Flagstaff readies for its first film noir festival

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The sultry dames. Their nasty boyfriends. The double crossings and triple crossings and framings. The gritty streets. The fog and shadows and streetlights. The tough-talking private eyes.

These elements of film noir are so iconic that they’re engrained in many people’s views of classic Hollywood drama. In the height of the film noir period — from the early 1940s through the late 1950s, these dark and twisted tales tantalized filmgoers looking for an antidote to the Hollywood happy ending.

These days, film noir has continued its fan base, is emulated in a number of modern movies and television shows and has even grown to develop scholarly interests. Next weekend, the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff hopes to connect to the love for noir with first Flagstaff Film Noir Festival.

The 11 films are screened Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Jan. 24 at the Coalition gallery in the Flagstaff Mall. The 3,500-foot space will be set up for the screenings. The big score for the Coalition is that, along with the lineup of movies, they will have Foster Hirsch, an author of 15 books on films and seasoned expert in noir. He’ll introduce nine of the 11 titles and discuss each.

Tickets are $5 for a single movie, $10 for a day pass and $25 for a full festival pass. Popcorn and refreshments will be available. The first film is 1 p.m. Friday and the last one is 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Learn more about the event and get details on each of the movies at

Mike Frankel, executive director of the Artists’ Coalition, has made regular trips to the Palm Springs Noir Film Festival and has met a number of the leading experts of the genre. He spoke to Hirsch about his interest in starting up a similar festival in Flagstaff, and he said to Frankel, “Count me in.” The festival sprang to life.

“He committed to coming and introducing nine of the 11 movies, and he knows all the production notes and how the films came to be,” Frankel said. “And we have so many great films. It’s real cross section of film noir, which came up as a rebellion of the Hollywood rose-petal ending. I think people really relate to that kind of thing. These characters live hard and they’re always on the wrong end of the deal. We even have a movie with Frank Sinatra as a presidential assassin (“Suddenly” from 1954).”

Some other highlights of the film lineup include “Detour,” a 1945 movie about a hitchhiking situation gone wrong, “Kansas City Confidential,” a 1952 movie about a man wrongly accused of a bank robbery who seeks revenge and “Scarlet Street” by famed filmmaker Fritz Lang from 1945.

Hirsch will introduce all the films except for “Blonde Ice” and “Kansas City Confidential.” He is a professor of Film at Brooklyn College and has written such books in film as “The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir,” “Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir” and “Acting Hollywood Style.”

Features editor Seth Muller can be reached at (928) 913-8668 or


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