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One-Two Punch: Pulp Writers on Film

February 13, 2009 - February 28, 2009

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Phantom Lady, February 21

Pulp fiction was never about technical virtuosity or the well-placed jab. It was more the swift uppercut that sent you reeling. The effect was physical, but if the prose landed properly the impact would follow through to the brain, where it would dazzle as it dazed. One-Two Punch ducks and weaves around four great pulp writers—Fredric Brown, Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, and Cornell Woolrichreveling in their adaptations to film. First published in 1926, Woolrich is the punch-drunk veteran of the group. His notable adaptations include Rear Window, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, and the prototypical noir Phantom Lady. Brown wrote dozens of short stories before settling on sci-fi and crime fiction in the forties. A true curio of its time, his Screaming Mimi stars that just-discovered knockout Anita Ekberg. Thompson came out swinging with a flurry of novels about beautiful, bruised losers. Only two of his books were adapted during his lifetime, so we don’t know how he would square off with Série noire or The Kill-Off, contemporary takes on his bare-knuckles approach to life at the bottom. Finally, Willeford would be the most contemporary heavyweight, having published right until his death in 1988. His patently quirky Hoke Moseley series saw four installments, but only one rough-and-tumble movie, Miami Blues, starring Alec Baldwin as a wide-eyed sociopath. Join us for a series of double bills featuring pulp writers who come out swinging.

Steve Seid
Video Curator

Friday, February 13, 2009
6:30 p.m. Crack-Up
In this hallucinatory noir based on a Fredric Brown story, Pat O’Brien is an expert in forged paintings with a tenuous grasp on the boundary between real and fake—in art and in life.

Friday, February 13, 2009
8:30 p.m. The Kill-Off
Maggie Greenwald captures Jim Thompson’s dismal vision of an off-season resort. “A nasty, claustrophobic little gem.”—Paper

Thursday, February 19, 2009
6:30 p.m. Miami Blues
Introduced by Don Herron. Fred Ward plays Charles Willeford’s detective Hoke Moseley, in pursuit of sociopath Alec Baldwin and collegiate call girl Jennifer Jason Leigh. “A pungent, blithely violent thriller.”—New Yorker

Thursday, February 19, 2009
8:45 p.m. Black Angel
Introduced by Elliot Lavine. Dan Duryea and June Vincent in a booze-drenched B-movie version of the Cornell Woolrich novel.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
6:30 p.m. Phantom Lady
Robert Siodmak swathes a Cornell Woolrich mystery in Expressionist shadow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
8:30 p.m. Série noire
Introduced by Dennis Harvey. Patrick Dewaere is the perfect fall guy in “the darkest, daffiest, and downright dazzlingest adaptation of a Jim Thompson novel ever.”—S.F. Bay Guardian

Saturday, February 28, 2009
6:30 p.m. Screaming Mimi
Anita Ekberg goes from the madhouse to El Madhouse, a nightclub run by Gypsy Rose Lee, in this lusciously lurid psychodrama based on a novel by Fredric Brown.

Saturday, February 28, 2009
8:15 p.m. The Woman Chaser
Introduced by Don Herron. A conniving used-car salesman turns his talents to the movie biz in this neon-drenched neo-noir, adapted from Charles Willeford’s novel.

Special thanks to Dennis Harvey, Elliot Lavine, and Don Herron.