Just in time for the holidays, the Northwest Film Center has lined up enough gloomy film noir to keep you bummed out and paranoid until New Year's. There are well-known classics, like Howard Hawks' hardboiled The Big Sleep, based on Raymond Chandler's book and starring Humphrey Bogart, and John Huston's interlocking, oddly genteel The Asphalt Jungle. And there are obscurities, like cartoonist Allen Baron's Blast of Silence, whose voiceover and rhythms feel more like a comic book than a movie.
The series also contains films that that show the breadth of the noir genre, or don't fit into it at all: Hitchcock's The Wrong Man is based on the true story of an unfairly imprisoned man (Henry Fonda), and it's perhaps the most serious movie the master of suspense ever made. The Night of the Hunter stars Robert Mitchum as a homicidal preacher chasing two kids; it's more a horror movie than film noir, and a strange, gothic, religious one. And Billy Wilder's perfect Sunset Boulevard is a tragically funny Hollywood satire. But noir or no, these films are nearly all worth seeing.