Marilyn Monroes screen persona, defined in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, is that of the ditz spilling out of her dress, endearingly unaware of the effect she has on men. That doesnt fit with film noirs conniving femmes fatales, who are certified geniuses at manipulating the slobbering desire of every rube who crosses their path. But Noir City, the eighth annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival, knows and shows Monroe's seamier, seedier side. In John Hustons top-drawer 1950 heist film, The Asphalt Jungle (screening today), she has a small but pivotal role as the mistress of a dishonest older lawyer (Louis Calhern) pushed to desperate measures by her pricey lifestyle. The actress commandeers the spotlight in Henry Hathaways twisty Niagara (also screening today) as a newlywed with a jealous, unstable husband (Joseph Cotten) and an eager lover (Richard Allan). Whats a gal with an extra, unnecessary male to do? Concoct a nasty, violent plan, which does not involve a barrel going over the Falls, but just as predictably goes horribly awry. Lust and Larceny is the theme of this years fest, with every double bill highlighting both mortal sins. Monroe is a special case, though, represented in perpetuity by the firm of Lust & Lust.
Jan. 22-31, 2010