'Double Indemnity' & 'The Dark Mirror': Oscar Noir

The Blue Dahlia Alan Ladd Veronica Lake

The Maltese Falcon Humphrey Bogart Mary AstorGood news for LA-based film noirs fans: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will kick off a summer screening series, “Oscar Noir: 1940s Writing Nominees from Hollywood's Dark Side,” on Monday, May 10, with a big-screen presentation of John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet.

The 15-film series, which will run through August 30, will showcase 1940s noir classics that received Oscar nominations in the writing categories. Among them are The Blue Dahlia, with the great Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake duo; The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, with Barbara Stanwyck and the underrated Lizabeth Scott; and White Heat, which offers what's probably the best performance of James Cagney's career and one of the creepiest Movie Moms of them all, Margaret Wycherly.

The Dark Mirror Olivia de HavillandEach film will be introduced by a contemporary screenwriter “whose own work reflects the film noir style,” as per the Academy's press release.

All screenings will be held on Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. I particularly excited by the inclusion of The Dark Mirror, which isn't all that easy to find. I've seen it before, but a long time ago. Olivia de Havilland plays twin sisters: one good, one wacko.

The complete schedule, including confirmed speakers, for “Oscar Noir” is as follows:

May 10 The Maltese Falcon, introduced by Lawrence Kasdan
May 17 Shadow of a Doubt
May 24 Laura, introduced by Scott Frank
June 7 Double Indemnity, introduced by Nicholas Meyer
June 14 Mildred Pierce, introduced by Callie Khouri
June 21 The Killers, introduced by Billy Ray
June 28 The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, introduced by Robin Swicord
July 12 The Dark Mirror, introduced by John August
July 19 The Blue Dahlia, introduced by Wesley Strick
July 26 The Stranger
August 2 Body and Soul
August 9 Crossfire, introduced by Brian Helgeland
August 16 A Double Life
August 23 Kiss of Death
August 30 White Heat

There will be no screenings May 31 or July 5. An updated list of speakers will be available on Oscars.org.

All features will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a specially selected noir cartoon short and, starting May 24, a chapter of the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel starring Tom Tyler, Frank Coghlan Jr., William Benedict and Louise Currie. Considered by many to be one of the best serials of all time, Captain Marvel will be presented in new 35mm prints.

Series passes for “Oscar Noir: 1940s Writing Nominees from Hollywood's Dark Side” are on sale now. Passes are $30 for the general public and $25 for Academy members and students with valid ID.

Tickets to individual evenings, if still available, will go on sale Monday, April 12. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with valid ID. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit Oscars.org.

Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

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