A Rare Noir Is Good to Find 2

San Francisco's other film noir festival takes the American focus out of the genre.

There’s always been a certain national chauvinism about the film noir genre, which is regarded as something that could only have come from the United States. As is the case with most arguments for American exceptionalism, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Offering a dozen films from nearly as many countries, A Rare Noir Is Good to Find 2 makes a good case that the cinema of postwar malaise was by no means limited to the home of the brave.

Not that they’re all necessarily rare anymore, as two of the films selected by the festival’s “renegade programmer” — their phrase, our quotes — were recently given the Blu-ray treatment by Criterion: British director Carol Reed’s 1947 Odd Man Out, which stars James Mason as an ex-con dealing with the aftermath of a botched robbery; and Italian director Giuseppe De Santis’ 1949 Bitter Rice, starring Silvana Mangano and her ginormous bosom as a fieldworker who gets involved in a plot to burgle the crop. Dark films from elsewhere include Miguel Morayta’s 1947 Camino Del Infierno from Mexico, in which Pedro Armendariz and Leticia Palma’s love affair goes as well as is to be expected, and Wojciech Has’ 1958 Petla from Poland, which follows a particularly difficult day in the life of an alcoholic.

A Rare Noir Is Good to Find 2
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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