Film Noir Festival coming to Křivoklát

Classics with Humphrey Bogart plus a detour south of the border

The historical Křivoklát Castle will be home to the Film Noir Festival 2017 on Aug. 17 to 20. The festival is in its fifth year, and is at this castle for the fourth time. Festival passes are already on sale, and the festival website has information on accommodations in the area.

The program has some 40 screenings in the castle's halls and courtyard, with classic American films from the 1940s and '50s plus, this time, Mexican and Czech films.

Big names featuring in the festival include actors Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum and Lizabeth Scott as well as director Alfred Hitchcock. Thematic sections include trains, Mexico, American films set south of El Paso, Czechoslovakia and HBO.

There is little agreement on what makes a film noir. “Some say that film noir is an independent genre; others consider it to be ‘only’ a visual style of a specific feeling; and yet still according to some other people, it is a historically defined cycle of American movies of the '40s and '50s. But no matter what point of view we take, film noir will always be a phenomenon fascinating spectators, film makers and film historians from all over the world,” festival programmers Jana Bébarová and Milan Hain state on the festival website.

“Film noir has always explored the limits of stylistic and narrative techniques in the mainstream cinema,” they added. “Film noir does not have clear borderlines, but that is part of its charms. Upon hearing the term one can imagine nearly anything.”

The section on Humphrey Bogart has four films. Two are well-known: High Sierra and Key Largo. The others are a bit obscure. Conflict and In a Lonely Place, both feature romance that is derailed by murder. In a Lonely Place, directed by Nicholas Ray, is one of Bogart's most overlooked performances.

Robert Mitchum will be remembered with the classic detective film Out of the Past, and actress Lizabeth Scott will be seen in Too Late for Tears, about a ruthless woman and suitcase full of money.

The three Alfred Hitchcock films in the program are Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious and The Wrong Man. The first two are fairly typical studio-shot films, but with the master's suspenseful touches. The last one, starring Henry Fonda, experimented with documentary techniques.

Trains have long been a favorite setting for noir films. There are four entries this year: Charles David's Lady on a Train (1945), Anthony Mann's The Tall Target (1951), Richard Fleischer's Narrow Margin (1952) and Fritz Lang's Human Desire (1954). The restricted space of the train and limited cast were often used to create suspense and tension.

The golden era of Mexican cinema will be represented by two films by Roberto Gavaldón: The Other One (La Otra, 1946) with Dolores del Río and The Kneeling Goddess (La Diosa Arrodillada, 1947), with María Félix as a femme fatale. The third film, The Adventuress (Aventurera, 1950) directed by Alberto Gout, features Ninón Sevilla as a fallen young woman from a big city.

American films set south of El Paso give a different view of Mexico. Robert Montgomery directed and starred in Ride the Pink Horse (1947), a revenge mystery. Anthony Mann is back with Border Incident (1949), a look at people smuggling. John Farrow's Where Danger Lives (1950) stars Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue and Claude Rains in a somewhat convoluted tale of dead husband and people on the run.

Four films will showcase Czechoslovak film noir: Conscience (Svědomí, 1948, Jiří Krejčík), The Hope (Naděje, 1963, Karel Kachyňa), Ninety Degrees in the Shade (Třicet jedna ve stínu, 1965, Jiří Weiss) and A Game Without Rules (Hra bez pravidel, 1967, Jindřich Polák).

The HBO section will have marathon screenings of the series Wasteland (Pustina) and The Night Of. A final section of special screenings is highlighted by John Boorman's Point Blank (1967) and Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (2014), among other films.

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