Ink-Stained Wretches

The quintessential film noir character is a desperate, luckless lug whose every clever move to escape his self-inflicted predicament only adds another nail to his coffin. Sounds a lot like newspapers circa 2009, doesn’t it? It does to noir chieftain Eddie Muller, who had the quasinostalgic idea of peppering Noir City 7, his annual festival of celluloid corruption and deco doom, with movies focused on newspapermen. Our “heroes” come in all flavors, from shadowy opportunists willing to do anything to advance their careers to last-ditch crusaders for justice in a world of dirty cops and dirtier judges. Humphrey Bogart plays a disillusioned sportswriter who sold his punctured soul for the easy money of publicity flackdom in The Harder They Fall (Jan. 27), while three reporters race against time and one another to track down a serial killer in While the City Sleeps (Jan. 28). (Fritz Lang’s relentless picture gives a whole new meaning to “deadlines.”) Tonight’s double bill rolls the presses on the lesser-known Night Editor, a sordid fable of adultery and murder framed as a crusty editor’s allegorical warning to a cub reporter. There isn’t a newspaper connection in the curtain raiser, the deal-with-the-devil yarn Alias Nick Beal, but with the sinful Audrey Totter providing the temptation and the rewards, nobody goes home disappointed. Who needs a late edition when you have that ball of fur and claws?

Alias Nick Beal starts at 7:30 and Night Editor starts at 9:30 p.m.
Jan. 23-Feb. 1, 2009

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