Chasing the Dream

During his many years as program director at the Roxie, Elliot Lavine's infectious, convivial nature led us down some dark alleyways. His first noir festival, held in 1991, was a month long, and was followed by as many as two festivals a year until 2003. These days, Lavine's time is occupied by teaching film at Stanford and SF State. But old habits die hard. For “I Wake Up Dreaming 2014,” Lavine plumbed the Warner archive, coming up with 30 films spanning 30 years, including some pre-code beauties. (Lavine has taught us that early talkies were pretty gritty before Roman Catholics judged how homosexuality, mixed-race couples, drug use, infidelity, profanity, and women's sexuality hit the big screen.) The festival opens with Stranger on the Third Floor, which is considered the first fully-realized noir produced by an American studio. Starring Peter Lorre and co-written by Nathaniel West, Stranger established a moody palette of tropes — from shadows to cynicism — for every noir that followed. Lavine will no doubt be on hand to delight in their deliciousness.

May 16-25, 6:30 p.m., 2014

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