Photo: Courtesy of Noir City: Chicago


Despite their self-designation as Chicago’s year-round film festival, the Music Box Theatre will kick off film fest proper NOIR CITY: CHICAGO this Friday. Now in its fifth year, the Music Box/Film Noir Foundation gala will feature seventeen high-drama whodunits ranging from noir classics to long-buried rarities restored to 35mm. Film noir author/historian/all-around stud Eddie Muller will serve as the festival’s cinematic tour guide with presentations and Q&A sessions throughout the week. In case you aren’t ready for seven whole days of scandal, murder, and lustful banter, we’ve compiled the week's titles into four we think will prove most mirthless.


Photo: 20th Century Fox, courtesy Noir City: Chicago

Night and the City (1950): Filmed during director Jules Dassin's stint on the Hollywood blacklist, Night and the City features hopelessly smalltime conman Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) grasping at big-time wealth through a series of wrestling hustles in postwar London. His undertaking is, of course, riddled with trouble. Grin, bare, and for Chrissakes learn your lesson as Fabian falls victim to the false allure of silver and gold. Tuesday, August 27th, 5:00 & 9:00.


Alias Nick Beal (1949): As if the film noir formula needed an extra dash of sinister, John Farrow’s Alias Nick Beal darkens things up to the degree of satanic. This silver screen adaptation of Doctor Faustus tracks hyper-righteous D.A. Joseph Foster’s (Thomas Mitchell) descent into cheap thrills at the hands of slick-shoes ne’er-do-well Nick Beal (Ray Milland). At a festival dedicated to cinema’s sultriest period, this (literally) black-and-white depiction of good vs. evil is a must-see. Wednesday, August 28th, 7:30.


Photo: Courtesy Noir City: Chicago

Niagara (1953): In a way, NOIR CITY: CHICAGO is the anti-summer fest. It takes place indoors, the performance is colorless, and the art makes you depressed. That’s all fine and good, but if you find yourself losing faith in humanity as the week drags on, consider stopping by Niagara, one of NOIR CITY’s few Technicolor screenings. Niagara follows two-timing trophy wife Rose Loomis (Marilyn Monroe) as she plots (with her lover) to drive her ex-military husband mad. We aren’t calling it a feel-good flick, but at least it’s got some dye. Saturday, August 24th, 2:30.


Photo: THE KOBAL COLLECTION / PARAMOUNT, courtesy Noir City: Chicago

Sunset Boulevard (1950): Widely celebrated as an era classic, Billy Wilder’s triple Academy Award-winner Sunset Boulevard features William Holden and Gloria Swanson as down-on-their-luck artistes (he a screenwriter, she a film star) whose entangled paths lead to—spoiler alert—a fatal end. Shifty motives? Check. Moral jeopardy? Check. Grubby sex? You bet. If Sunset Boulevard isn’t noiry enough for you, it’s time to find another festival. Sunday August 25th, 2:30 & 9:15.


NOIR CITY: CHICAGO kicks off Friday, August 23rd at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport) and runs through Thursday, August 29th. Single tickets $10, double features $15, seven-day passes $75.