Monday, November 30, 2009

BOGART FREAK by Christoph Reilly

“Play it again, Sam.” Perhaps the most misquoted film line in history. Bogart's actual lines in that scene, as spoken by the character of Rick in Casablanca were:
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. What's that you're playing? Well, stop it. You know what I want to hear. Play it. You played it for her and you can play it for me. If she can stand it I can. Play it.”

Any true fan of Bogart knows this. I was more than just a fan however. I was a Bogart freak. He was the quintessential movie tough guy, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always hard-boiled and cynical.
Beginning at a very young age I watched every Bogart film shown on television with the kind of rapt attention other kids saved for dinosaurs. I practiced his trademark lip twitch.  I practiced his voice.  I studied the way he held a cigarette or a gun.  I talked his talk and walked his walk.
"Hi, Schweetheart."
My impersonation of him was impeccable, even for a little kid. Imagine me brooding about the neighborhood, my rain slicker fashioned into a trench coat, pointing a carrot as if it was a gun at my friends and saying, in perfect Bogart fashion, “I'll fill you so full of hot lead you'll be pickin' it out of your belly for a week, see.” My fanaticism and devotion only grew worse.
I remember the exact time and event that took me from a boy mostly interested in frogs and snakes to a boy who liked girls. Suddenly, girls were not the icky, cootie infested creatures I had suspected, but visions of loveliness. More than a curiosity. It happened in a very simple dream. I dreamt Jan Leeds sat on my lap in the school library. That's all. It made me feel good. It made me feel....funny. I woke up and I was in love with Jan Leeds.
I didn't know what to do about it of course. The next day in the lunchroom I sat next to her and, twitching my lip Bogie style, said, “Hi, Schweetheart. I'll give you half of my baloney if you give me half of your liverwurst.” Jan Leeds scooched away from me in record “scootching” time, thinking I must be the craziest boy walking the planet. So in less than 12 hours I fell in love and was mercilessly rejected, shattering my heart forever and ever like a million pieces of broken glass in the auto accident of life. I could only sit there and mumble, “Here's looking at you, kid.”

"What happened to your lip?"

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in N.Y.C. On December 25th, 1899 into a fairly wealthy family. His father was a surgeon and his mother was a famed illustrator. Maud Bogart had studied with Whistler in France, and was earning $50,000 per year, an astronomical sum in those days and far above her husband the surgeon, who earned $20,000. They did not have a lot of time for their children. About his parents, Bogart said, “A kiss, in our family, was an event. Our mother and father didn’t glug over my two sisters and me.”
It is difficult to piece together an accurate biography of Bogart since there are multitude of contrasting stories. Illustrative is the common belief that as a child, his mother immortalized him by using his image on Gerber baby food labels. Other sources (IMDB) correct this, claiming it was an ad campaign for Mellons' Baby Food. Still other sources say that his mother never painted him at all.
As a young man, he attended the preparatory school Phillips Academy, the oldest prep school in America, but was expelled, either for throwing the headmaster or a groundskeeper into a pond, or smoking and drinking, or cursing at the staff, but was probably withdrawn by his father for poor academic performance. Take your pick. He enlisted in the Navy where he was a model sailor, and some stories attribute his trademark lisp and scar to this period as being caused by a piece of shrapnel. Or maybe it's the story about how he was transporting a prisoner who, having asked Bogie for a cigarette, punched him in the mouth as he searched for matches. The truth may never be known, but Bogart told actor David Niven it was incurred during a fight with his father when he was 12 and the following effort by a surgeon who, according to Bogie, “instead of stitching it up, he screwed it up."

"Tennis anyone?"

Bogart drifted into acting in N.Y.C., playing smaller roles on Broadway. He is widely believed to be the first actor to say the line, “tennis anyone?” Again there is no evidence to support this claim. During this early period, Bogart kept $100 dollars in his dresser drawer at all times, calling it his “F” you money, so instead of taking a part he didn't want, he could say “F” you. His big Broadway break-through came when he was cast as Duke Mantee opposite Leslie Howard in The Petrified Forest.He became something of a matinée idol as thrilled young ladies filled the first rows to see Bogie's two-day growth of beard. Fittingly, it was this role that would make him a player in Hollywood as well.
Years later when the film version of The Petrified Forest was being cast, Bogart wasn't even considered. Leslie Howard told the studio that if Bogie wasn't in it, he wouldn't be in the film either. This kind of loyalty is rare in Hollywood, and quite possibly made Bogart's career. It made Bogart a player but it wasn't until High Sierra that Bogart became a certified star and box office attraction. George Raft had turned down the part, and it was George Raft's continued rejection of roles claimed by Bogart that made Bogie a superstar and nearly sent Raft into oblivion.
Immediately following High Sierra, Raft turned down The Maltese Falcon. Bogart took the role.  The film is often sighted as the Best Detective movie of all time, and it is certainly at the top of film noir.  In addition, it started a life-long friendship with John Huston. Raft next rejected All Through the Night. Bogart didn't and the film is now a favorite among fans. Raft wanted nothing to do with The Big Shot, but Bogart took the role. There is some evidence that Raft was considered forCasablanca, but it is unclear if he was ever offered the part. Raft did not like Humphrey Bogart and earlier, after the High Sierra fiasco, actually had Bogart removed from the film Manpower. Ironically, Raft's last part was in the film The Man With Bogart's Face, in which Raft received only 12th billing.

Bogie and Bacall
It was during the filming of To Have or Have Not that one of the greatest Hollywood love stories began. Bogart met co-star Lauren Bacall, a 19 year old fashion model just signed by Warner Brothers. Bogie was 45, but they didn't let their age difference keep them apart.

Mayo Methot
Nor would Bogart's current marriage to actress Mayo Methot stop them, which had been on the rocks since before they were married. The press had dubbed them the Battling Bogarts due to their common public fights, but they fought in private too, during which they commonly threw household items at each other.
Howard Hawks, the director of the film had also set his sights on the young model.  Out of jealousy, he threatened to send Bacall to the worst studio in Hollywood, Monogram Studios.  Bogart confronted Hawks.  The dispute was settled by Jack Warner.
Bacall said of Bogart: “He is the handsomest ugly man I ever saw.” Bogart said of Bacall, "She's a real Joe. You'll fall in love with her like everybody else." Their marriage, Bogie's fourth, would endure through Bogart's death.
"Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges."

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention some of his more memorable films. In addition to the aforementioned High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, To Have and Have Not, and Casablanca, there was also The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, The Caine Mutiny, Sabrina, and of course,The African Queen, for which he won the Academy Award. While many of these films can be considered classics, Casablanca is one of the greatest iconic films of all time and is ranked number 1 in the American Film Institute's list of the top love stories, and Bogart himself is listed as the number 1 film actor of all time.
It is interesting to note that Casablanca was being written as production went along, with that days script delivered on the morning the scenes were to be shot. The actors themselves thought the script was laughable and the dramatic lighting ridiculous. They made fun of it while not on camera, little realizing that one of the worlds greatest films was being born.
Ode to a Tough Guy
My fascination with Bogie served me well at the start of my acting career. One of my first professional roles was as Bogart in Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam, and I was called on several times to play roles using his voice in radio plays for National Public Radio. At the National Shakespeare Conservatory, our final test for graduation was to write and perform a one-person show. Naturally I chose Bogart, and chronicled his film career as he reminisces--me slipping into the film role and "playing" it out--during his fight with throat cancer, which took Bogart's life on January 14, 1957.
The show, titled Tough Guy, was a success and I was contracted to perform a lengthened version (with co-writer Don Cox) at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre during the summer, and then was produced in South Bend, Indiana Civic Center. A few years later, I turned the show into a television production. I haven't seen it in many years, and as with anything we look back on from our past, I would do things differently. But such is life and over all, I am proud of it. It was produced for only $3000 dollars, a major budgetary accomplishment even in those less expensive days.
"Here's looking at you, kid."
Now, evidence of my extreme Bogart obsession is forgotten. I have a picture, the first picture in this article, that was given to me during those early years, and it hangs on my wall to this day, but that is all. The many posters reside in a tube in the basement. Ditto the books, biographies, and scripts, sealed in boxes perhaps never to be opened again.
I still watch his greatest movies though, and whenever I flip the television over to one, my wife looks up and says, “How many times have you seen this one?” “About a hundred,” I say, and then I watch the film, mouthing the words I know by heart.

One Little-Known Bogart Fact

Bogart was an outstanding chess player. At a time when many stores had a professional chess player who could be challenged by anyone, Bogie would challenge and win almost every game. The challenger would pay 50 cents. If he won, he got $1.00. Many stores wanted Bogie to turn pro, but he declined because he was making more money as a non-pro. Eventually he did turn pro and would beat 40 or more people a day. (Source: Paul Harvey, Jr.'s, "The Rest of the Story.").

Bogart Quotes

The trouble with the world is that it's always one drink behind.
Acting is experience with something sweet behind it.
[attributed last words] "I should never have switched from scotch to martinis."
[On the House Un-American Activities Committee] "They'll nail anyone who ever scratched his ass during the National Anthem."
I came out here with one suit and everybody said I looked like a bum. Twenty years later Marlon Brando came out with only a sweatshirt and the town drooled over him. That shows how much Hollywood has progressed.
A hotdog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz.
When the heavy, full of crime and bitterness, grabs his wounds and talks about death and taxes in a husky voice, the audience is his and his alone.
[about himself] "Democrat in politics, Episcopalian by upbringing, dissenter by disposition."
I can't say I ever loved my mother, I admired her.
I don't approve of the John Waynes and the Gary Coopers saying 'Shucks, I ain't no actor -- I'm just a bridge builder or a gas station attendant.' If they aren't actors, what the hell are they getting paid for? I have respect for my profession. I worked hard at it.
The only good reason to have money is this: so that you can tell any SOB in the world to go to hell.
I hate funerals. They aren't for the guy who's dead. They're for the guys who are left alive and enjoy mourning.
The whole world is three drinks behind. If everybody in the world would take three drinks, we would have no trouble.
Acting is like sex: you either do it and don't talk about it, or you talk about it and don't do it. That's why I'm always suspicious of people who talk too much about either.
The only thing you owe the public is a good performance.
You're not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi.
I made more lousy pictures than any actor in history.
[On the untrained beefcake stars of the early 1950s, many of them picked up for screen tests from sidewalks and gas stations] "Shout 'gas' around the studios today, and half the young male stars will come running."
Do I subscribe to the [Laurence Olivier] school of acting? Ah, nuts. I'm an actor. I just do what comes naturally.
I don't hurt the industry. The industry hurts itself, by making so many lousy movies - as if General Motors deliberately put out a bad car.
[On Ingrid Bergman] "I didn't do anything I've never done before, but when the camera moves in on that Bergman face, and she's saying she loves you, it would make anybody feel romantic."
[On Warner Brothers] This studio has more suspensions than the Golden Gate Bridge.
[On Katherine Hepburn] She talks at you as though you were a microphone. She lectured the hell out of me on temperance and the evils of drink. She doesn't give a damn how she looks. I don't think she tries to be a character. I think she is one.
[On Bette Davis] Even when I was carrying a gun, she scared the be-jesus out of me.
It is at least worth arguing that there is a modicum of the creative novelist in all of us, and that this absorption with how men get out of difficulties, single-handedly and alone if possible, is the stuff of which we weave the warp and woof of our own better dramatic imaginings.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Patricia Highsmith and Oscar Wilde by Joan Schenkar


Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900. To Joan Schenkar --- author of the massive, definitive, shocking and entertaining biography,The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, which will be published on December 8 --- the date  of Wilde's death suggested a little-known story. Here, Wilde is dead and buried. And one summer's day Miss Highsmith comes to visit….
It's July 12, 1962. And it's Paris. Patricia Highsmith –- the forty-one year old author of such dark-hearted fictions as Strangers On a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Deep Water -- has just emerged from a lengthy ride on the Paris Metro. Her alabaster skin and almond eyes have already begun to show the signs of her drinking and her disappointments.
Pat enters an imposing gate set in a stone wall so long she can't see the end of it, keeping her eyes on her size 9 1/2 shoes as they walk her up and over the hilly, cobblestoned streets of France's largest literary gathering ground: Père Lachaise cemetery. She is as interested in counterfeit, forgery and homosexuality as the still-dishonoured gentleman she has come to visit.

Paris is hot and bright this July day, perfect weather for cemetery-walking. Fleecy clouds are chasing each other across an enormous expanse of Cézanne-blue sky but Pat is not interested in the atmosphere. She is carrying her bolsa, one of those large woven bags she brought back from her five months in Mexico in the early 1940's and never threw away. In it, she packs a 3"x 5" spiral "travelling" notebook, along with something to drink and something to smoke. These are the props of her creative life and she is never without them: a notebook, a fountain pen, a lit cigarette, a bottle –- and her tenebrous imagination.

"These stones," she writes in her notebook with the kind of satisfaction that only thoughts of death can bring her, "must make a grim, loud noise when metal wheels of carts, carrying bodies, go over them!"

Pat Highsmith isn't alone in having to watch her feet in Père Lachaise. Every writer who makes the pilgrimage there –- and every writer does; Père Lachaise is the Dead Letter Office of Literary Aspirations -- ends up with eyes on the ground. Part of the pleasure in wandering this City of the Dead is the perpendicularity of the visitor's position in relation to that of the visitee; no one strolling the cemetery wants to stumble on a stone and fall flat on a grave. Pat, who has already killed quite a few of her characters with nasty fictional falls, understands very well how the smallest irregularity in a rock can make the difference between life and death.

Because the only thing Pat likes more than a good list is a good map, she is very much at home here. The moment she walked through the gate, she was handed -- without charge, this was 1962 –- a map of the cemetery. She needs it: Père Lachaise is the largest burial ground in Paris. It has its own roads, its own posted dead celebrity lists, and its 105 acre plot is partitioned into neat, well-defined segments. But as she walks past the graves of Bizet, Balzac and Alfred de Musset (and bypasses entirely the graves of Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan), "the only name which interested" her on the map was "Oscar Wilde's." She finally "reached [his grave] after nearly a mile of walking among time-darkened "rectangular vaults."

"I came upon Oscar’s [monument] – a large nearly square rectangle of granite with a large Egyptian figure in headdress, flying horizontally."

To an outsider artist -- an outsider everything -- like Patricia Highsmith, Oscar's lines, inscribed on the back of the monument, seem to be written for her alone.

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long broken urn
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn

"My eyes fill with tears," she writes later, and then corrects herself in her notebook: "(filled)." This moment is too important, too authentic, to counterfeit. But, still, she never takes her eyes off her audience.

"Such tears," she writes remembering Oscar's "lonely, pauper's" funeral, "are brief and deep, like a stab wound."

And then –- perhaps it's a cameo appearance by one of the Little Fiends from Satan's Inner Circle dedicated to tripping up troubled authors –-- something odd happens. The otherwise hypervigilant writer misinterprets a detail, miscalculates a date, miscontrues an impression -- and creates a counterfeit description from all her errors. It's the kind of mistake Pat will make more and more as her imagination, never at home in Europe, distances itself from the only place and time she ever really understood: New York City in the 1940's and 1950's.

Pat has always cast a cold eye on life and death. And so, as she weeps, she can't stop herself from criticizing Oscar's funerary architecture. This is a most inappropriate monument, she thinks, for the tomb of a writer whose meditations on forgery and counterfeit, seductive portrayal of criminals, and long, unlovely martyrdom for homosexuality has moved her since she was a teenager. But her critique rests squarely on the misapplication of a talent she is widely supposed to have mastered: close observation of detail.

Pat's error is to imagine that Jacob Epstein's famous funerary monument of a Winged Egyptian erected in the Belle Epoque of 1909 is an Art Deco construction of the "mid-Twenties." Worse, she judges "the Egyptian motif not at all appropriate" for Oscar Wilde. So, as well as getting the sculpture's style and date wrong, she misunderstands the suitability of a pharoanic figure for the tomb of a writer whose delusions of grandeur were as outsized as Ozymandias's; a man who composed a poem called "The Sphinx," and who gave the sobriquet "Sphinx" to one of his muses, Ada Leverson, grandmother of Francis Wyndham, the author who will soon give Pat's work its most intelligent critical introduction in England.

And –- was it her famous reluctance to see or speak in public anything that had to do with sex? –- Pat also managed to miss the Winged Egyptian's most salient feature: the mutilation of its manly marbles. Jacob Epstein, the sculptor, had been criticized for his "undue attention" to the sexual characteristics of his statues, and the prominent genitalia of this one had been hacked away by industrious lycée students. When the great New Yorker writer Janet Flanner made her own pilgrimage to Père Lachise in the early 1920's to place a single black iris on Oscar's tomb, Epstein's statue had already been emasculated. Today, the Winged Egyptian is still without its principal part.

And so Pat Highsmith –- inspired observer of detail, serious fan of all things Wildean, compulsive collector of dates and times in her notebooks –- mistook every single thing she saw at the tomb of Oscar Wilde: the style, the substance, the suitability, the context, even the epoch.

But at the graveside, the wheel of Pat's imagination was already spinning her misunderstandings into fictional gold. Because she didn't like what she had just misidentified as the " Art Deco Egyptian motif" of what was, in fact, an Art Nouveau Egyptian monument, she began to search her mind for a suitable replacement, for the kind of tomb she might have created for the King of Counterfeit.

And inspiration came to her.

Oscar's funerary monument, Patricia Highsmith decided, "should have been a Greek boy."

copyright Joan Schenkar, 2009


* reverse-gentrification of the literary world

Noir Anthologies

Noir Is Beautiful

Hold the eggnog: What you need is a draft of "edgy fatalism and 

sexy recklessness," of flashy crime, gallows humor, and 
"desperate deals with a variety of devils," served up every year 
since 2004 by the editors of Akashic Books' brilliant noir 
anthologies. From Brooklyn to Boston, from Phoenix (where
"sunshine is the new noir") to pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans,
each volume in the series—featuring stories by the likes of Lee 
Child, Maggie Estep, Stewart O'Nan — reveals a city's distinctive
 inner darkness. In this year of financial crisis, Wall Street 
Noir could be a rich gift.

The name Akashic which refers to an Etheric, Astral or Causal Plane Storehouse of Knowledge, is a Sanskrit word which comes to us from the Vedic texts of India. 


Jim Noir (real name Alan Roberts) is an English singer-songwriter from DavyhulmeManchester. Noir's stage moniker is in homage to Vic Reeves, whose real name is Jim Moir. He has released two albums to date, 2005's Tower of Love and 2008's self titled LP. Tower of Love and all of the preceding EPs were self-recorded at Noir's parents' home in the suburb of Davyhulme in Manchester.
Noir's music has been described as psychedelic pop electronica with simplistic, often repetitive lyrics and compared to The Beach BoysSuper Furry AnimalsThe Beta BandThe Bees and fellow Mancunian Badly Drawn Boy. He is also known for a slightly eccentric dress sense, frequently appearing in abowler hat. Noir is a multi-instrumentalist, playing all the instruments on his work.  However, he uses a band at performances.

From a Manchester bedroom to your stereo via outer space, we're overjoyed to introduce the new album from Jim Noir. He's named it after himself, but don’t be fooled into thinking he's run out of ideas — Jim's eponymous second album is one of the most expansive pop records you’ll hear this year. Jim’s music has always been a melee of different styles and influences, and this album sees him delving more into his electronic side and going further with melody and vocals than he’s ever gone before — there's even some lead falsetto.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Courmayeur Noir in Festival Poster Collection

1993 Patrik Bard

1994 Roland Topor

1995 Asia Argento

1996 Mario Schifano

1997 Weegee

1998 Lorenzo Mattotti

1999 Bill Plympton

2000 Charles Schultz

2001 Chiara Rapaccini

2002 Mattia Torriero

2003 Angelo Stano

2004 Mario Schifano

2005 Will Crocker

2006 Mojmir Jezek

2007 Antonello Silverini



The 19th Courmayeur Noir in Festival (December 7-13, 2009) is marked by variety within a genre that no theorizing has yet encapsulated and ordered into a single formula. Avatars and mutants, zombies and vampires, detectives and spies, desperate men and dangerous criminals will rendezvous at the foot of Mont Blanc for a irresistible offering of emotions, thrillers, laughs and nightmares, that never ceases to examine and reflect upon reality. 

“We’re not afraid to join entertainment and civic passion, new languages and traditions,” say festival directors Giorgio Gosetti, Marina Fabbri and Emanuela Cascia. “It is precisely this combination that makes our festival unique, a not-to-be missed event of cinema and literature, among historical memory and the documentation of the real, cartoons and television, discovery and celebration. Next year, the challenge of our 20th anniversary awaits us, and we wanted to prepare ourselves by laying all of noir’s cards on the table.” 

The figures of the Courmayeur Noir in Festival 2009: 29 films (of which four first films and five second films) that range from premieres, tributes and documentaries; six TV series; 30 writers from throughout the world; four days of panels and in-depth discussions; five film awards and three literary awards; two creative workshops for the “festival within a festival” MiniNoir; a lecture by Adrian Wootton in honor of Raymond Chandler; a graphic design exhibit; a concert; a play; and a seminar on film criticism.

The guests of a Festival that Variety deems should not be missed: Oscar-winning author-screenwriter Diablo Cody with her new film, Jennifer’s Body; the criminal Renato Vallanzasca, author and protagonist of Carlo Bonini’s book-interview, Il Fiore del Male; Michael Caine, the wonderful star of Harry Brown, this year’s opening film;Leonardo Padura Fuentes (winner of the 2009 Raymond Chandler Award), the imaginative narrator and free voice of Cuban culture; Federico Zampaglione, musician (who will perform with his new group The Alvarius) and director (with his newest film, Shadow); Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo De Cataldo, who inspired two episodes of the new series of Crimini, one of which is set among the snows of Courmayeur; the virtual creatures of James Cameron’s new masterpiece Avatar: an extended prmo of the film will be screening simultaneously with the world premiere of the film. 

This year’s theme – blending memory and news, film and literature, civil action and historical research – will be the anniversary of December 12, 1969, “Piazza Fontana Day.” Discussing this Italian mystery, its judicial and investigative consequences and above all its political and social implications for our collective memory will be Gaetano Savatteri, journalist Paolo Cucchiarelli and judge Guido Salvini, along with essayists, writers and commentators. 

The genres and themes most present in this year’s film selection are: the return in grand style of the undead (the hilarious parody Zombieland) and warriors of a distant future (the mutants of the Mutant Chronicles, finally making their way to the big screen); the legacy of the celluloid classics from Jean-Pierre Melville (evoked in by Johnnie To in Vengeance) to 1970s Blaxploitation (parodied in Black Dynamite); the rediscovery of social and civil noir with the illegal immigrants of Jackie Chan (Shinjuku Incident); the urban disenfranchised (The Queen of Clubs); the spies who brought down the Berlin Wall (Farewell); psychological drama (Tomorrow at Dawn); new examples of Italian noir such as the exercise in style that is the Manetti Bros’ Cavie and the marathon of TV series Il Mostro di Firenze, directed by Antonello Grimaldi for Fox Crime (an official  partner of the Festival).

This same versatility also spans the writers present in 'The Dark Page' literary meetings: a lesson on contemporary noir by James Sallis (president of this year’s international jury) and the labyrinths of the psycho-thriller in the new novel by Sebastian Fitzek (The Child); the return of Matt Haig (after The Dead Fathers Club) with the sophisticated mystery The Last Family in England, and Jonathan Rabb with his cinephile fresco of Fritz Lang’s Berlin (Shadow and Light); the enigmatic historical crime novel by Carlo A. Martigli (999: L’Ultimo Custode) and the adventures of an Indian Hercule Poirot by Tarquin Hall (The Case of the Missing Servant); the great Spanish tradition of Juan Madrid (Pajaro en Mano) and the rebels of the new Berlin narrated by Zoran Drvenkar in Sorry. There is also the fiction debut of Gianni Canova(Palpebre) and Marco Lombardi (I Nuovi Amici), a journey through the voices of “Sardinia in Noir” (Angioni, Bellu, Fois, Murgia, Saba, Todde) and the five finalists of the Premio Giorgio Scerbanenco – La Stampa Award for the Best Italian Genre Novel.
There are five films in the DocNoir sidebar (organized in collaboration with the Festival dei Popoli) vying for the Mystery Award presented by a jury of young critics: the daily violence under the Mexican sun of Welcome to Tijuana and the snowy cold of repression in Chechnya told in Entre Ours et Loup; the frightening topicality of a massacre that becomes a game (Playing Columbine) and the game of massacring by the ‘Ndrangheta in Duisburg (Mobsters Without Borders); and recent American politics traversed by the madness of The Killer Poet, told by Susan Gray, director of Citizen Berlusconi.  

There are four highly anticipated film premieres inMiniNoir: the hysterical catastrophes in 3D of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, from the children’s book by Judi Barrett; animated Italian film Cuccioli – Il Codice di Marco Polo, presented in world premiere by director Sergio Manfio; Stefan Ruzowitzky’s fairy tale Lilly the WitchThe Dragon and the Magic Book; and the TV series Casper’s Scare School, presented by Cartoon Network.
There are five top-quality series in the sidebar TV Noir: in collaboration with Fox Crime, besides the marathon of Il Mostro di Firenze, also showing will be the premiere of Episode 1 of the 10th series of CSI: Las Vegas and the pilot of White Collar (the most-watched series in the US today), starring Matt Bomer. Thanks to CBS, we will also present the pilot of The Good Wife, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and featuring Chris Noth (“Mister Big” ofSex and the City) and Julianna Margulies (ER). Italian TV will be represented by two new episodes of Crimini: Neve Sporca by Davide Marengo, from Giancarlo De Cataldo; and Niente di Personale by Ivano De Matteo, from Carlo Lucarelli and Giampiero Rigosi.

The retrospective Spanish Noir of the 50s offers five films, organized with the Instituto Cervantes in Milan. Five police dramas from a political season we know little about, the height of Francoism: Julio Salvador’s Apartado de Correos, Ignacio F. Inquino’s Brigada Criminal, Julio Coll’s Distrito Quinto, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia’s Los Ojos Dejan Huellas and Francisco Pérez-Dolz’s A Tiro Limpio (from the early 1960s). It will be particularly interesting to compare these works with the contemporary Spanish noir we will host at Courmayeur this year:

 Patxi Amézcua’s Catalan film 25 Carats and literary guest Juan Madrid

US writer James Sallis will preside over the jury that will present the Black Lion and other prizes at this year’s Courmayeur Noir in Festival. This will also be an unforgettable opportunity for audiences to hear the author speak about his work and the film adaptation of his bestseller Drive, currently in production, directed by Neil Marshall and starring Hugh Jackman.

Sallis studied at Tulane University in New Orleans and lived in London and throughout the US (New York, Boston, Pennsylvania, Texas) before settling in Phoenix, Arizona. Sallis is often considered a southern author, since many of his stories are set in New Orleans and rural southern America, yet it was his nomadic nature that influenced his writing style.

In 1992, Sallis began a series of noir novels set in New Orleans featuring African American private eye Lew Griffin. More than crime novels, Sallis’ books are reflections of America. 

In 2003 he began a new series, a trilogy featuring main character John Turner, an ex-cop/ex-con/ex-therapist seeking refuge in a cabin in the woods outside Cypress Grove, a small town in Tennessee. He spends his days trying and hoping to be forgotten by the world, running away from the ghosts of his past that resurface every so often in order to be exorcised. But Turner also evolves over the course of the three novels. In the second instalment of the trilogy, Cripple Creek, he comes out of self-isolation and becomes a deputy sheriff. 

A prolific writer, Sallis has flanked his noir writing with the avant-garde novel Renderings, spy novel Death Will Have Your Eyes, many short stories and essays, four collections of poetry and a biography of Chester Himes. He has furthermore written literary and music criticism, and translated authors such as Raymond Queneau, Blaise Cendrars, Mikhail Lermontov and Boris Pasternak. Sallis plays numerous musical instruments, including the guitar, French horn, mandolin, sitar and Dobro guitar. He has also acted in an independent film. 

The NOIR landed with its shadows on the snows of Italian
Mont Blanc in the early 90’s after a decade’s experience with MystFest on the Adriatic coast. Every year at the beginning of December the best of cinema and literature in the field of thriller, mystery, spy story, horror and noir s.f. is on show in one of the most fascinating ski resorts in the Italian Alps: Courmayeur, at just an hour drive from Geneva and Turin and 2 hours from Milan. The 12 films in competition are all premières of the year and will be screened by an ever prestigious Jury and awarded the Mystery Award for Best Film and the Napapijri Prize for the Best Performance. The Festival also features adocumentary section, retrospectives exploring the history of the genre, discovering cult authors, setting new trends, as well as a TV Noir section and the newest festival for young audience MINI Noir.  As to literature, the Festival promotes the meeting with the best Italian and the International crime-novel writers, and gives each year the prestigious Raymond Chandler Award to the career of a master and the Giorgio Scerbanenco Award to the best Italian published crime-novel. Conferences and seminars investigate into the genre's artistic developments and into its close links with reality. Events, exhibitions and publications further enrich the appointment with Courmayeur Noir in Festival: not to be missed by all fans and professionals of the genre.

In its long tradition of discoveries and rediscoveries of new or already known authors under the sign of thriller, Noir in Festival has proposed, among retrospectives and films, a complete panorama of Italian crime movies from the 40’s to the 70’s, a fresh look on masters such as 
Alfred Hitchcock, Pierre Chenal, Orson Welles, Robert Wiseand William Friedkin (attending in 1997), and imposed new authors like Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Takashi Miike (1999: his first Western retrospective), Sabu and Park Chan-wook. But also documentary masters like Emile De Antonio andFred Wiseman have been celebrated, as well as the great literature on the screen with tributes to Durrenmat,Conrad or Dostojevski.
The international Juries of the NOIR have had among their members: 
Dario Argento, Edward Bunker, Suzanne Cloutier, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Jules Dassin, Jeffery Deaver, Jean-Christophe Grangé, Maria de Medeiros, Abbas Kiarostami, Val Kilmer, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Mike Hodges, Peter James, Christopher Lee,  Laura Morante, Chris Penn, Michele Placido, Amanda Plummer, Gillo Pontecorvo, Patricia Rozema, Jimmy Sangster, Jerzy Skolimowski, Bob Swaim, Michael Tolkin, Margarethe von Trotta, Peter Weller, Donald Westlake and Farley Granger.
In 1992 NOIR IN FESTIVAL brought to Italy 
Quentin Tarantino (a true fan of our festival) with Reservoir Dogs, in 1993 premiered Romeo is Bleeding, with Gary Oldmanand the noir tv series Fallen Angels, produced by Sydney Pollack. In 1994 Shallow Grave by Danny Boyle, withEwan McGregor and The Seed of Madness by John Carpenter have been presented; while in 1995 Seven  byDavid Fincher was launched, and the 1996 saw the début as director of Kevin Spacey with Albino Alligator. Prestigious guests in 1997 with the tribute to William Friedkin and the premieres of The Devil’s Advocate at the presence of Charlize Theron, and of Starship Troopers, at the presence of the director Paul Verhoeven and the actor Casper Van Diem; and finally Alien Resurrection, with Sigourney Weaver. In 1998 we saw in CourmayeurEnemy of the State, by Tony Scott with Will Smith, andThe Spanish Prisoner by David Mamet, while 1999 introduced to Italian audience the Oscar winner American Beauty, the hit The Bone Collector with Angelina Jolieand Denzel Washington, and Martin Scorsese’sBringing Out the Dead, guest of honor Dante Ferretti. In 2000 two major premieres, among the others, of Neil LaBute’s Nurse Betty and of M.Night Shyamalan’sUnbreakable, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis. In 2001, the first “Iran Noir” program in Europe was set up in Courmayeur. An Italian event of 2002 was the première of The Legend of Al, John and Jack by the leading comic trio Aldo Giovanni & Giacomo, while the Italian debut of the jap horror cult The Ring has also taken place. In 2003 the festival presented Runaway Jury, starring Gene Hackman and Rachel Weisz, as well a tribute to Stan Lee (the father of Marvel comics). The 2004 saw the Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs which inspired Scorsese for The Departed, while in 2005 the festival introduced A History of Violence by David Cronenberg and The Cronicles of Narnia Italian première. The 2006’s hits of the Noir were CassavetesAlpha Dog(Best Film), the Academy Award recipient The Last King of ScotlandTony Scott’s Déjà vu and the young audience’s favourite Flushed Away among others.
Many other directors have competed for the Black Lion Awards in Courmayeur: 
Tim Burton, Lucas Belvaux, Luc Besson, John Dahl, Claire Denis, Eric Rochant, Mike Figgis, James B. Harris, Neil Jordan, James Merendino, Mark Peploe, Bob Rafelson, Nicolas Roeg, Carlos Saura, Ron Shelton, Steven Soderberg, Robert M. Young.

In the name of 
Raymond Chandler, the master giving his name to the Prize awarded to a great mystery writer’s career, Noir in Festival has hosted the best names of the literature of the genre like Scott TurowElmore Leonard, John le Carrè, Leonardo Sciascia, James G.Ballard, Frederick Forsyth, James Grady, Graham Greene, John Grisham, Manuel Vasquez Montalban, Osvaldo Soriano, P.D. James, Fruttero & Lucentini, Ed McBain, Andrew Vacchs, Mickey Spillane, Ian Rankin, George P. Pelekanos, and James Crumley who have all been awarded the Prize. But also, Quentin Tarantino, Chris Carter and Arturo Perez Reverte have been awarded with a Special R.Chandler.

Literature at the NOIR does not only mean prize awarding, but also book presentations, meetings with foreign and Italian authors, the promotion of publishing series, magazines. Many are the remarkable names to be remembered in this territory as well: 
Robert Bloch, Mary Higgins Clark, Robin Cook, James Ellroy, Anne Perry, Walter Mosley, Michael Tolkin, José Latour, Joe Lansdale, Nicholas Evans, Raymond Benson, Kathy Reichs, Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett, Ian Caldwell, Harlan Coben, Jefferey Deaver, Barry Gifford, Amitav Gosh, Jean-Cristophe Grangé, James W. Hall, Jean-Claude Izzo, Michael Marshall Smith, Matthew Pearl and Patrick Raynal; the recent exploit in noir science fiction with Norman Spinrad, K.W.Jeter, and Bryan Aldiss (as an hommage to S. Kubrick); the 2006 tribute to the first time in Italy Elmore Leonard.
Rediscoveries and discoveries also on the literary side with the publishing revival in Italy of 
Cornell Woolrich, David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Philip K. Dick, Ed Bunker; the “revelation” of female crime-writing with Ruth Rendell, Anne Perry or Dorothy Unhak, the launching in Italy of the new authors of the French Série Noire, and of theNew Age of British Mystery, but also the discussion on the many mysteries of history like the Cold War Spies, the JFK assassination or the 1956 Uprising of Budapest.