Barbara Stanwyck displayed a youthful enthusiasm for deviousness and opportunism in the pre-Code classic Baby Face before attaining adulterous immortality a decade later in Double Indemnity. But she was far from finished playing gals with dark designs and desires. Noir City stacks the deck tonight with two great Stanwyck performances, starting with her portrayal of a straight-arrow wife who gets a taste of the Las Vegas tables in The Lady Gambles. Husband Robert Preston does all he can to break her hard, desperate fall into addiction, but the lady is a scamp. In the much-loved paranoid classic Sorry, Wrong Number, Stanwyck steals the show as a wealthy, spoiled invalid whose lifeline the telephone becomes a deathtrap when she overhears a murder plot. The real big deal for Eddie Muller and Anita Monga's famous festival, though, is the brand new prints of lesser-known gems such as High Wall, Loophole and The Hunted which were made possible in large part by the enthusiasm of San Francisco audiences at Noir Cities past. Tonight, The Lady Gambles screens at 7:30 and Sorry, Wrong Number at 9:30.
Jan. 21-30, 2011