Night and the City 

The Mean Streets of Noirville

TOUCH OF EVIL Just a touch, mind you. Maybe a smidgen. Not a single dollop more!

TOUCH OF EVIL Just a touch, mind you. Maybe a smidgen. Not a single dollop more!

TRUE STORY: I was so obsessed with Cinema 21's film noir festivals in the 1990s that I'd wear shorts and sit down in front so I could pee in a cup rather than miss a single frame of whatever tough-guy crime story was on deck. I'm not proud of myself, but if noir teaches us anything, we have to own the mistakes of our past.

Twelve black-and-white classics are scheduled for Cinema 21's latest noir fest, the weeklong "Noirville," and nine of them will be shown on 35mm. The selections serve as a genre primer, full of private eyes, femme fatales, gunplay, and snappy patter. Titles range from John Huston's 1941 masterwork The Maltese Falcon all the way up to noir's crowning achievements, Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958). In between, you'll find carnival geeks (Nightmare Alley), gossip mongers (Sweet Smell of Success), and dangerous men trying to square up misspent lives (Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, Burt Lancaster in The Killers).

There's not a rotten egg in the dozen. Spring for a festival pass ($40) and see as many as you can. And if you spot me there and I'm wearing shorts, you might want to put a few seats between us.

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