Eddie Muller is in way too good a mood for a man who's known as the Czar of Noir. At every onstage introduction this year, he's been chortling with joy. But he's not alone: the Castro Theatre has been packed out at both of its evening performances of its opening weekend of Muller's Deadline: Noir City, the Seventh Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival. The capacity crowd, 1400 strong, loudly approved Friday, January 23rd's double bill of Deadline-U.S.A. (1952), starring Humphrey Bogart as an uncompromising editor of a high-class daily that's about to be bought and shut down by a competitor, and Scandal Sheet (1952), based on Samuel Fuller's novel The Dark Page, wherein a different kind of editor, Broderick Crawford, hoped to escape detection as a murderer while his crack investigative reporter, John Derek, was hot on his trail. Our favorite overheard comment: “Was Bo Derek his daughter?” Uh, no, she was his fourth wife, in a long line of ever-younger lookalike blondes, including Ursula Andress and Linda Evans, in fact.
Saturday night's tribute, with guest of honor Arlene Dahl, gracious, funny, and impossibly glamorous in floor-length black lace and satin, with still-flaming red hair, toasting the festival onstage with champagne and admiring interlocutor Eddie, featured Wicked as they Come (1956), about a social-climbing girl who used her beauty to reach the top in English and Parisienne society, and Slightly Scarlet (1956), moodily shot by master cinematographer John Alton in vivid Technicolor, ideally suited for the pairing of two of Hollywood's most voluptuous redheads, Arlene Dahl and her good friend Rhonda Fleming. Far from being rivals, the two women often celebrated their one-day-apart August 10th and 11th birthdays together. The much-married Dahl (six times, including the past 25 years to perfume magnate Marc Rosen) was accompanied by both the much-younger Rosen and her son by second husband Fernando Lamas, Lorenzo Lamas.
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