Now this was something new. A night of 3-D Noir. That's right, kids, 3-D isn't a new thing, it's been around since the 50's. In fact, it's been around a lot longer than that (although sometimes unintentionally.) And last night (Friday) was just a night of pure, good-ol' fun.
MAN IN THE DARK (1953):Steve Rawley (Edmond O'brien) is in jail for stealing $130,000. He undergoes an experimental procedure to remove the evil part of his brain in exchange for parole. It also removes his memory. Which is fine, in his new persona he's actually a nice guy. But it isn't fine when his old gang grabs him and whisks him away from the hospital. See, they want the loot, he's the only one who knows where he stashed it, and memory loss is a bad thing now. A fun caper with some charmingly old-school 3-D effects--spooky dangling spiders, punches thrown at the camera, a P.O.V. shot of surgeons going in to operate on your brain. Nice!
As an aside, all the 3-D effects last night pretty much break Jason's Rule of 3-D. But I actually found them pretty enjoyable instead of distracting (like most modern 3-D movies.) This was a different time and a different attitude with the effects. First, the story was still paramount and the effects were a fun little bonus. Second, they were playing around with the 3-D effects and seeing what they could do. They weren't throwing tons of CGI junk at the screen and trying to overwhelm you. A spider dangling in front of your eyes was impressive enough, so they just did that really well instead of bashing you over the head with the effect. I liked that a lot.
INFERNO (1953): And then the second film of the night might just be my favorite of the entire festival. Which is kind of blasphemy for film noir because not only was it in 3-D it was in color! But heck, it stars Rhonda Fleming, and those lips need to be seen in color. She plays Geraldine Carson, wife of millionaire Donald Carson (Robert Ryan) and secret lover of Joseph Duncan (William Lundigan.) They've hatched the "perfect" plot. Take Donald out to the desert to explore an investment in a manganese mine, then leave him there. He's a notorious alcoholic who has a habit of running away for days on end, so he'll die of thirst before anyone even starts looking for him. For good measure, get his horse to throw him and break his leg. Tell him you're going for help, never come back. The only problem--although Donald may be a rich boy who has never done hard work in his life, he's got a spirit that can rise to the challenge. He's not a lay-back-in-the-sun-and-die-of-thirst kinda guy. The scenes of him struggling down the canyon to a plateau where he can light a signal fire are epic. And the transitions from him struggling to survive to them enjoying the high life in Los Angeles are brilliant. Just all around an excellently crafted story, with just enough 3-D gags to justify the use of 3-D. Honestly, while the 3-D effects were kinda cool, I loved this for the story and it would still be great without the 3-D.
Total Running Time: 153 minutes
My Total Minutes: 312,826