No Noir City Chicago For Me.

Noir City Chicago

So, does this figure, or what? The Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City Chicago starts this Friday (the day after tomorrow, when this post appears). And where will I be?

Well, not in Chicago. About 350 miles away, in fact.

In A Lonely Place, A Kiss Before Dying, The Killing, Kiss Me Deadly…oh, the list just goes on and it’s getting me depressed. Sure, I’ve seen many of the fest’s film offerings already, but a laptop or TV screen is no match for the big screen. There’s no better place for these films hereabouts than The Music Box Theatre. I’ve seen some memorable movies there, each experience enhanced by the place itself. But I knew in advance I’d be away for the fest, and ought to be reconciled to it by now.

The Music Box Theatre

Want to know just how much I’d ache to be there, even for one night? Hit the link below for an old post, “Noir City Daydreaming: On The Road”. It’s me fantasizing about chucking the day job and following The Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City film festivals from city to city like some kind of noir-nomad.

Noir City Daydreaming

These post are typically scheduled a bunch at a time and days in advance. And I shouldn’t really be complaining, since I’ll be mixing work with some R&R and fun where I’ll be. Still, the timing’s rotten. Oh well…next year.

Noir City

Noir City No 26Received last week: Issue Number 26 of the Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City e-magazine, 83 sumptuously designed pages laid out by Art Director Michael Kronenberg, with articles on the Chicago mob’s interference in the Hollywood labor movement and how that set the stage for the Blacklist, novelist/screenwriter Jonathan Latimer, collecting film noir posters, Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box, an interview with writer Jason Starr, comparing/contrasting Mickey Spillane’s novel Kiss Me Deadly with the film version and much, much more. If you like things you see here at “The Stiletto Gumshoe”, you’ll love The Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City magazine. Go to the organization’s site, browse around some, and by all means become a contributor, not only to help support their film preservation efforts but to get your mitts on this gorgeous and informative publication. Link below…

Film Noir Foundation Site


David Goodis

Goodis Midnight Classics

Hard-boiled, noir, pulp, crime novelist and screenwriter David Goodis was born today, March 2nd back in 1917.

My own introduction to Goodis’ work was The Blonde On The Street Corner and The Moon In The Gutter in used bookstore 1990’s trade paperback editions from Midnight Classics (wish I still had those). From there I looked for more of his work, and confess to finding it a little uneven. Digging deeper, I discovered I wasn’t alone in that conclusion.

Four David Goodis Novels

Goodis, apparently, almost seemed to emulate one of the characters in the bleak, noir-ish world of his writing, hanging out in lowlife taverns and greasy spoons, poorly dressed, prone to depression and bouts of anger, and unlucky in love. But after laboring for years over low-paying aviation and adventure pulp magazine stories, Goodis was finally at the top of his game by the mid-1940’s. He had a couple successful hardcover novels to his credit, a lucrative six-year Warner Bros. screenwriting contract, and a hit movie based on his own novel, Dark Passage, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Yet within a couple years, he left Hollywood behind, had to move in with his parents in Philadelphia, and spent the remainder of his life cranking out paperback originals for Gold Medal and Lion Books along with – once again – pulp magazine stories. A lawsuit against the producers of the hit TV series The Fugitive, which Goodis asserted was based on his work, wasn’t resolved until just after his death. And by that time, not one of his books was even in print in the U.S. Yet, he was revered in Europe, with nearly a dozen critically acclaimed novels in France alone.

Goodis A Life In Black & White

David Goodis: A Life In Black And White by French writer Philippe Garnier was published in France in the mid-eighties, but wasn’t translated and published in the U.S. until 2013. It’s available through the Film Noir Foundation (it was edited by Eddie Muller), and at Amazon. In the mean time, you’ll find that “The Mysterious Life Of David Goodis” by Andrew Nette in a February 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Review Of Books (link below) provides a terrific capsulized overview of who Goodis was, what was great and not-so-great about him and his work, and even why European readers honored him so much more than his own American compatriots. – !

Noir City Daydreaming: On The Road

chicago - music box -

Maybe your daydream is striking it rich with a Lotto ticket. Maybe it’s just being able to turn on a cable news show without wondering if the world’s gone completely mad.

Mine? Sounds silly, but I think mine would be to do a noir film fest version of ‘Deadheading’. You know, ‘Deadheads’: The caravans of post-hippies that travelled from one Grateful Dead concert to another, long after real hippies became grandparents out in the suburbs. But no tie-dye and bellbottoms for me, because I’d be travelling from city to city to take in each of the Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City Film Festivals. Start at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago, then the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, the Redford Theatre in Detroit, then all the way back to the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and on and on…

3 noir city posters

But it’d have to be done right.

I’d start at one of those specialty auto rental agencies that supply vehicles for film and TV productions, wanting something postwar but pre-tailfins, and absolutely enormous with big fat fenders. Maybe for one of the cross-country treks I might swap the wheels for a train, Union Station in Chicago to Union Station in Los Angeles (think how many flicks we’ve watched with scenes shot there). It’d only be Amtrak, of course, not the Santa Fe Super Chief, but still. Advance research online could take care of lodging, pinpointing some aging hotels that haven’t turned into crack dens or SRO’s yet, and then locate piano bars and all-nite diners (I said it’s a daydream, didn’t I?) Imagine: Getting all duked up, hit the festival to see some genre classics, restorations and little-known’s on the big screen instead of a TV, or worse, a laptop. Cocktails after, like a Rob Roy or Ramos Gin Fizz at a jazz lounge where the music’s as smoky as the atmosphere (smoking would not only be legal, but insisted on in this mythical trip, though of course, not a health hazard), followed by a wee hours bite in a period-perfect greasy spoon before turning in. Then up at noon the next day, pack up the land cruiser and hit the highway for the next burg.


Daydream with me here, noir fans. Now I’m no Cosplay fan, but proper attire would be essential. For the fellows? Suits: mandatory, along with those ridiculously short, stubby ties so popular in the late forties. A full brimmed fedora on top, and depending on the weather, one of those huge topcoats a person can almost get lost in. Bonus points for a monogrammed white handkerchief always at the ready, a plain silver Zippo lighter, and a billfold (not a wallet, a billfold) with actual paper money inside, even if you normally pay with your phone or a swipe of a chip card.

san francisco 2009

For the gals: Pleated slacks may be fine for the long city-to-city drives, but it’s strictly padded shoulder dresses for the theatres and after, hats encouraged if you can figure out where to buy one, wide brims and netting a plus. Sorry, but bare-legged is out, hose a must, and be sure to tote around a clutch whether you need it or not, though there’d be no point in packing a lighter because you’d just dangle your cigarette between the very tips of your red-nailed fingers (that match your red lipstick) till someone lit you up.

san francisco 2011

Obviously, it’s never gonna happen. Even if there was some way to take off work for days and weeks at a time, I suspect there’d be a few calls from the credit card companies, somewhere between the train tickets and the reservations at the seedy hotels. And really, just where do you even buy monogrammed white handkerchiefs or fancy hats with netting today? I said it was a daydream, albeit ‘Noir Daydreaming’. But these utterly gorgeous Film Noir Foundation Noir City Film Festival posters sure can make a person fantasize, can’t they?

san francisco 2018

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