This weekend Los Angeles is the place to be for classic film fans!
UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater features the opening weekend of the Joan Blondell restrospective, which I plan to attend Saturday night...Sunday at the Aero Theatre Alan K. Rode hosts Tippi Hedren at a screening of THE BIRDS (1963)...and Monday there's an invitation-only screening of CASABLANCA for American Cinematheque members at the Egyptian to celebrate the theater's new nitrate projection booth. That's right, it's showing in nitrate...and I plan to be there! (Update: Whoops, just noticed THE BIRDS is next Sunday, the 13th...but still!)
Tonight, though, was probably the topper on an amazing list of options. It just doesn't get more "L.A." than a showing of the iconic film noir CRISS CROSS (1949) at Union Station -- where scenes were filmed just yards from where we sat watching the movie. You might call this a quintessential "Los Angeles" evening.
Before the screening my husband and I walked down the street to Philippe's, a Los Angeles institution for over a century. (I also wrote about it in 2011.) Philippe's claims to have invented the French dip sandwich, and whether or not it's true, you won't find a better one anywhere.
The food at Philippe's is simple but perfectly prepared, whether it's chili, a brownie, or the famous French dip.
While not as packed as it gets at lunchtime, the restaurant was still very full on a Friday evening, with most tables taken. Highly recommended.
Tonight's CRISS CROSS screening is part of a film noir series featuring scenes shot in Union Station. When I was in Lone Pine last month there was a screening of UNION STATION (1950), and next month features one of my all-time favorites, TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949).
CRISS CROSS stars Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo, Dan Duryea, and Stephen McNally, directed by Robert Siodmak.
Yvonne DeCarlo was never more stunning than in this film -- especially in the scene where she dances with a very young Tony Curtis!
I reviewed CRISS CROSS in 2012 after seeing it at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For me it's one of the truly essential film noir titles, probably on my Top 5 "This is Film Noir" list. The more I see it, the more I appreciate.
The Film Noir Foundation's Alan K. Rode hosted the screening, providing interesting background on the film, which was shot in the summer of 1948.
The movie features many famous Los Angeles landmarks, including City Hall, Bunker Hill, and the Angels Flight Railway. The scenes at Union Station were the last on the shooting schedule.
The screening was absolutely packed, and this being film noir in L.A., actor Clu Gulagher was sitting in the front row, as he so often does. He's easily identifiable by the white hair.
This information booth, located right next to the screening area, appears in the movie:
Yvonne DeCarlo walking through the station:
The distinctive doorways seen in this photo with DeCarlo and Duryea were visible at the rear of our screening area, seen in a photo above.
When Burt Lancaster walks outside, the camera eventually looks down the street towards Philippe's. The view seen in the movie is still very recognizable today.
Another shot inside the station:
There's a nice courtyard off the waiting room area:
This was a great way to spend a Friday evening, seeing classic noir in a classic setting, and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.
I highly recommend that anyone in driving distance enjoy Alan Rode hosting TOO LATE FOR TEARS at Union Station on December 2nd. His special guest that evening will be Dan Duryea's son Richard.