On January 30, 2013 the Castro Theatre will screen two film noir gems: THE SNIPER, 1952 and EXPERIMENT IN TERROR 1962, both noted for their cinematic tribute to the streets of San Francisco – a city born to be shot in black and white.
Among the interesting things to know and notice in THE SNIPER is the pairing of director Edward Dmytryk and actor Adolph Menjou. Dmytryk had been one of the “Hollywood Ten”- going to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un- American Activities Commission (Later, he did name names.)
Adolph Menjou had been a “friendly witness” for HUAC, proudly referring to himself as a “witch hunter.” By 1952 both had had their reputations dragged through the ringer.
On a lighter note, hardcore I LOVE LUCY fans will notice a cavalcade of character actors from the series popping up all over the place in THE SNIPER- Charles Lane and Jay Novello to name two… Oh, to have hung around that coffee cart…
But for me, the highlight of the movie is Marie Windsor playing Jean Darr, pianist in a seedy cocktail lounge.
Marie Windsor was given a lot of Bad Girl/Floozy/Saloon Babe parts in her day, but there was always an integrity and intelligence to whatever she did. Marie doesn’t last long in THE SNIPER but she is just so…good. While fighting off drunks and mashers she manages to play “Pennies From Heaven” and “Plaisir D’Amour” without missing a beat.
The San Francisco cocktail lounge (where Jean Darr plays nightly from 9-12) was in 1952 a popular lesbian nightspot called The Paper Doll Club located at 524 Union St, where you could get, “A steak with all the trimmings for $ 1.65.”
San Francisco looks great, Marie Windsor looks great and the Castro Theatre is the best place to see it all…
Edward Dmytryk and Adolph Menjou – an excerpt from Edward Dmytryk’s autobiography: ODD MAN OUT