Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The engine of film noir isn’t lust or greed, as primal as those impulses are. It’s guilt. And not the weak-tea stuff they serve in Catholic school, but a soul-gnawing, whiskey-craving amalgam of remorse, regret, and retribution. Ask wronged man Vincent Parry, who sneaks out of San Quentin to find the lowlife who framed him for the murder of his wife. But every move the erstwhile hero of Dark Passage makes puts another person in jeopardy of either his fists, the real killer, or the cops. Delmer Daves’ 1947 adaptation of David Goodis’ corkscrew-clever novel is the quintessential S.F. noir, with Lauren Bacall as the not-so-innocent dame with a Telegraph Hill hideout, and Humphrey Bogart as a rather ordinary fellow who’s always a step behind — even with the advantage of a new face, courtesy of a late-night surgeon. Along with the customary newsreel and cartoon, this year’s outdoor Film in the Fog show includes a set by local faves Grass Widow. It’s never too early, we’re convinced, to introduce the little ones to the ultimate noir value: cynicism. The real crime is that San Francisco is the only place where noir is considered family entertainment.
Sat., Oct. 1, 5:30 p.m., 2011

 
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