Danger & Despair's    
A Month of Classic Films
at the new North Beach Recreation Center

During Saturday nights in February the Danger & Despair Knitting Circle invades a place as sacred to "Americana" as Mom and Apple Pie. The playground where it's said Joe DiMaggio learned to play baseball.


Joe, a lover of women and an ad-hoc guardian of a dangerous and desperate piece of film history, would be stoked on our February line-up which focuses on dark roles of women in four films from the 1930's, 40's & 50's. Film Noir and Pre-code themes are the subject of these classic movies which will be projected in vintage film at the North Beach Recreation Center.

Highlighted by a rare showing of


Ann Sheridan in the San Francisco film noir 'Nora Prentiss'               



Film Historian Marc Kagan & Guerrilla Cinema Host "Dark Marc" invite you to a
  to a Fund Raiser for The Friends of Joe DiMaggio Playground.
-   Every Saturday night in February  -  Screening Times at 7:30 pm
To reserve seats for this series only, email  fjdmp@mindspring.com



Saturday   February 4th      7:30 pm   -  San Francisco Film Noir

    ‘House on Telegraph Hill’   ( 20th Century Fox  1951 )    Director:  Robert Wise
     Starring:  Valentina Cortese, Richard Basehart, William Lungan, Kai T. Chun & Fay Baker.  
  Lovely Italian actress Valentina Cortese in an typically twisted Film Noir plot.  Things go from bad to weird when Victoria Kowelska survives Nazi concentration by assuming the papers and identity of a close friend who died in the camps. Before the war began, the dead woman had sent her young son to San Francisco to live with a wealthy aunt. Victoria travels to America with plans to reunite with the boy posing as his mother.  Upon arriving she finds he's inherited a fortune, not everyone is happy about it and they are out to raise Hell.  In fact, these are the kind of neighbors that would give the Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association reoccurring nightmares.  It's fun and games with the dysfunctional wealthy on one of the richest pieces of real estate in the Western Hemisphere.  
      Filmed in the City by the Bay, 'House on Telegraph Hill'  is a wonderful yet rarely seen Noir Thriller, very much in the Hitchcock vain. Directed by Robert Wise who got his start at RKO Studios where he edited sound and later footage including what some believe to be the greatest film of all time, 'Citizen Kane'. Wise got his directorial break when famed horror film producer Val Lewton hired him to helm two dark classics, 'Curse of the Cat People' and 'The Body Snatcher'.  Lewton and his protégés, including Wise, basically created the look of what would become Film Noir at the most prolific studio in the Noir style, RKO Pictures.

There's plenty of location shots of North Beach, Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill in the 1950's, so don't miss a rare chance to see this terrific film noir in a setting within blocks of where it was made.


Saturday   February 11th   7:30 pm  -  San Francisco Film Noir

    ‘Nora Prentiss’   ( Warner Bros. 1947 )    Director :  Vincent Sherman  
    Starring:  Ann Sheridan, Kent Smith, Robert De Alda, Rosemary DeCamp & Wanda Hendrix  
  Successful doctor Richard Talbot (Kent Smith) leads an austere married life among San Francisco's elite. He comes to realize that while he's comfortable, he's bored at heart. Talbot in his daily routine beats a non-stop path between his Seacliff mansion and downtown practice. Then by chance he meets beautiful nightclub singer, Nora Prentiss (Ann Sheridan) and they fall in love. Talbot's weakness is that he can't bear to tell his wife that he wants to leave her. Confused, he devises a plan that becomes one of the most ironic in all of Film Noir. But as we have come to expect from the canon, fate moves in to deliver the good doctor a bitter pill.  
      Released by Warner Brothers, who's publicity department promoted 'Nora Prentiss' as a typical femme fatale movie, but in fact it is the male that leads the characters down a dark path and into the gutter.

The studio produced the film on the heels of it's success with 'Mildred Pierce' which won Joan Crawford a Best Actress Oscar.  Hoping to do the same for Ann Sheridan, studio head Jack Warner assigned a top notch crew including director Vincent Sherman and cameraman James Wong Howe. The result is an excellent production, but one that was a bit too downbeat and hard-boiled for the mainstream audiences of 1947. 

Today's it's a favorite of fans of Film Noir who love their films with bleak tragic endings on a note of sublime hopelessness.  Don't miss it, very worth seeing and another San Francisco Noir.


Saturday   February 18th   7:30 pm  -  A Woman's Film Noir

    ‘The Accused’   ( Paramount Pictures  1949 )    Director :  William Dieterle  
    Starring:  Loretta Young, Robert Cummings, Wendell Corey & Sam Jaffe  

Wilma Tuttle, Psychology Professor, lets aggressively brash student Bill Perry drive her home.  He attempts to rape her and she accidentally kills him.  Panicked, Wilma hides her traces and flees.  As time passes she watches the investigation of Homicide Detective Lt. Dorgan with painfully concealed apprehension, complicating matters with her budding romance with Warren Ford, Perry's guardian. How long can she stand the strain?

      The plot for 'The Accused' was taken from the novel       'Be Still, My Love' by June Truesdell and stars Loretta Young as Wilma Tuttle a unmarried woman of intellect and power, a professor. 

The idea of a female protagonist of this nature was incongruous to society's accepted role definitions throughout the middle 1930's and early 40's. Hollywood, as American Dream Machine and it's censors reinforced the misguided idea that women are inferior to men and that only through marriage and bearing children have value.  Like the Pre-Code films of the thirties before censorship, early Film Noir and it's liberal writers broke down those stereotypes and began presenting women in a more equal light, due in part to the social effects of World War II.

      'The Accused' is an interesting example of film noir and worth seeing as a curiosity, as it's plot and storyline walk a narrow tightrope between representing the new evolving role models and reinforcing the old. In dealing with the issue of women's empowerment, this film takes a more cautious approach to what was by 1949 a trend in film.  When a violent reaction arises due to Wilma's attractiveness and power; it leads to a whirlpool of terror that's beyond her control, a position without power.   Wilma Tuttle may be beautiful and smart, but her job as teacher of young people is symbolic of Motherhood and in this respect only slightly renovates inequality.  Young, a devout Catholic woman, was perfectly cast in this role.  
      'The Accused' was lensed by Milton Krasner who in the same year won a 'Best Cinematography' Award  at the Cannes Film Festival for the film noir 'The Set-Up'.   It's got content and style, with one of the most beautiful woman to work in pictures and it's rarely shown so hey... don't miss this one.  

Saturday  February 25th      7:30 pm  -  1930's   Naughty Pre-Code Film  -  Introduction by Paul Meienberg

    ‘Search for Beauty’   ( Paramount 1934  )    Director :  Erle Kenton  
    Starring: Ida Lupino, Buster Crabbe, Robert Armstrong, James Gleason & Gertrude Michael  
  From the extensive vaults of film collector Paul Meienberg comes this racy Pre-Code spoof on the Health & Fitness Industry.   Sleazy racketeering publishers promote their health and beauty magazine... which is 90% SEX.  After hiring young Olympic stars to lure young athletes both strapping males and winsome females to Los Angeles to compete in a contest, the participants are routed instead to a health farm to entertain debauched connoisseurs of young flesh.   
There is plenty of snappy dialogue by the stars with exceptional rapport between James Gleason and Robert Armstrong.  Gertrude Michael competes with Ida Lupino for the affections of a hunky Buster Crabbe. Toby Wing giggles and dances in her lingerie. 

This film was released just a few months before the Hollywood Production Code censorship rules took effect in 1934. Bare-butt nudity and most of the dialogue would have been Taboo.

  Paramount studio in 1933 sponsored a "Search for Beauty Contest" in which they attracted contestants from around the U.S. & white British Commonwealth countries. The finalists all appear in the film and a few were offered contracts which gave them minor careers.   One contestant, Ann Sheridan, was eventually able to obtain stardom although it took her 4 years and a leap to Warner Bros. where she was promoted as the "Oomph Girl"!
      If you are not sure what Pre-Code films are all about, then this is an excellent introduction to the current rage in classic movies, a film genre with a colorful political history. Paul Meienberg, who will talk about the Pre-Code era is one of the world's leading authorities on the subject and was a contributor to the essential book "Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood" by Mark Vieira.  A valuable resource for more information on the subject.  
Four rare films in a wonderful setting and for a good cause
Donations at the door  -  with food and drinks
Walk-Ins OK  ...  Seat Reservations not required but are recommended

To reserve seats for this series only email  fjdmp@mindspring.com   


LOCATION:    North Beach Recreation Center  

Lombard at Mason Street & Columbus Ave.  San Francisco    415-274-0201
MUNI BUS LINES from Market & Kearny / Market & 3rd Street:  Use the  15 Third & 30 Stockton Lines
Doors open at 6:30 pm  -  Films at 7:30 pm   


Home Page Site Directory Screenings Home Page Film Noir Library The Big Chat