Brit Noir

November 5 – 30

This month the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Brit Noir, a series of eight films representing the long-overlooked British branch of the moody film movement that flourished most famously in the U.S.

In their landmark study "Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style" (1979), Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward assert that the film noir, like the western, is "an indigenous American form." That claim has been challenged by later noir scholars, with perhaps the strongest counter-claim being made for a British film noir movement — or Brit Noir, as it is often called.

British noir has a literary heritage stretching back to the penny dreadfuls of the Victorian era, early 20th-century crime novels such as Marie Belloc Lowndes's "The Lodger" (1913), pioneer psychological thrillers such as Francis Iles's "Malice Aforethought" (1931), plays such as Patrick Hamilton's "Rope" (1929), and the leftist "entertainments" of Graham Greene and Eric Ambler in the 1930s-1940s. The British film noir movement is often traced back to either THE GREEN COCKATOO (1937) or THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1938), making it contemporaneous with and even a little ahead of American film noir.

Like its American counterpart, Brit Noir blossomed after World War II, similarly nurtured by sub-surface currents of disillusionment and anxiety in the postwar era. However, Brit Noir tended to have a grayer, more stoical, less flamboyant inflection — attributable in part to Britain's sustained wartime exposure to aerial attack, with rubble still visible long afterward, and to the years of privation and rationing that persisted while America basked in gaudy postwar prosperity.

Other qualities that have been identified as distinguishing Brit Noir from Yank Noir include: a stronger influence of French poetic realism than of German expressionism, more emphasis (of course) on class issues, less reliance on private eye and femme fatale characters, and a greater direction of emphasis away from the individual and toward the community.

This series concentrates on films that have been recently rediscovered, reissued, or restored. Because film noir was a movement that was not widely identified and defined until after its initial heyday had passed, the boundaries of noir have always been highly flexible. We unapologetically include some films (such as THESE ARE THE DAMNED and NINETY DEGREES IN THE SHADE) from the marginal areas where the garden of noir has often produced some of its most fascinating offshoots.

Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming


Special thanks to David Jennings of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tim Lanza of the Cohen Film Collection, Eric Di Bernardo of Rialto Pictures, and Chris Chouinard of Park Circus Inc.

SATURDAY DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first "Brit Noir" film on any Saturday in November, and get a ticket for the second "Brit Noir" film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second feature only. Discount available in person at the box office only.)

PREVIOUSLY

These Are The Damned

The Damned

1962, Joseph Losey, UK, 96 min. With Macdonald Carey, Viveca Lindfors.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 5th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Nov 9th 6:00pm

Archival 35mm print!

Never Take Candy From A Stranger

Never Take Sweets From A Stranger

1960, Cyril Frankel, UK, 81 min. With Gwen Watford, Janina Faye.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 5th 5:00pm
  • Mon, Nov 7th 6:00pm

Odd Man Out

1947, Carol Reed, UK, 116 min. With James Mason, Kathleen Ryan.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 12th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Nov 16th 6:00pm

Ninety Degrees In The Shade

1965, Jiri Weiss, UK/Czechoslovakia, 90 min. With Anne Heywood, James Booth.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 12th 5:15pm
  • Mon, Nov 14th 6:00pm

New digital restoration!

The Fallen Idol

1948, Carol Reed, UK, 94 min. With Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey.

Showtimes:

  • Fri, Nov 18th 6:00pm
  • Sat, Nov 19th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Nov 23rd 6:00pm

Wanted For Murder

A Voice In The Night

1946, Lawrence Huntington, UK, 103 min. With Eric Portman, Dulcie Gray.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 19th 5:00pm
  • Mon, Nov 21st 6:00pm

New 4K digital restoration!

Gideon Of Scotland Yard

Gideon's Day

1958, John Ford, UK, 91 min. With Jack Hawkins, Anna Lee.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 26th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Nov 30th 6:00pm

Archival 35mm print!

Cash On Demand

1961, Quentin Lawrence, UK, 84 min. With Peter Cushing, Andre Morrell.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Nov 26th 4:45pm
  • Mon, Nov 28th 6:00pm