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THE 14TH FILM NOIR FESTIVAL: ARGENTINE NOIR

February at the Heights Theater

Postwar Argentina: Juan Peron is in power, and the nation is gearing up for an age of prosperity. Yet bubbling just beneath the optimism are rot, corruption, and murder. Argentinian filmmakers, inspired by their American counterparts, produced razor-sharp crime pictures with shocking plots, brilliant acting, and brooding cinematography that captured the seedy side of Buenos Aires. The five noirs we’ve selected should be international classics but have been nearly lost to audiences north of the equator.

APENAS UN DELINCUENTE (HARDLY A CRIMINAL)

(1949, 35mm, 90m, Spanish w/English subtitles) dir Hugo Fregonese w/Jorge Salcedo, Sebastián Chiola. José (Jorge Salcedo) is a gambler, and a bad one. After falling deeply into debt, he embezzles money from his employer, taking advantage of a loophole that sends him to prison for only six years. But when he’s freed, he finds that […]

LA BESTIA DEBE MORIR (THE BEAST MUST DIE)

(1952, DCP, 95m, Spanish w/English subtitles) dir Román Viñoly Barreto w/Narciso Ibáñez Menta, Laura Hidalgo. Famous mystery writer Felix Lane’s (Ibáñez Menta) nine-year-old son is killed by a car. Adopting a new identity and planting himself in the lives of the family he believes is responsible, Felix takes revenge swiftly and with plenty of collateral […]

LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (THE BITTER STEMS)

(1956, DCP, 90m, Spanish w/English subtitles) dir Fernando Ayala w/Carlos Cores, Vassili Lambrinos. Reporter Alfredo (Cores) befriends a Hungarian refugee, Paar Liudas (Lambrinos), who’s desperate to bring his family to Buenos Aires. The pair devise a clever get-rich-quick scheme, but once the money starts flowing, Alfredo’s barely checked paranoia rises. This gorgeous noir won the […]

EL VAMPIRO NEGRO (THE BLACK VAMPIRE)

(1953, DCP, 90m, Spanish w/English subtitles) dir Román Viñoly Barreto w/Olga Zubarry, Roberto Escalada, Nathán Pinzón. In Buenos Aires, a serial killer (Pinzón) is murdering children. Soon the police, and the underworld, are working to rid the streets of the madman. This third remake of Fritz Lang’s M focuses on the women of the story, […]

SI MUERO ANTES DE DESPERTAR (IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE)

(1952, 35mm, 73m, Spanish w/English subtitles) dir Carlos Hugo Christensen w/Nestor Zavarce, Blanca del Prado. Lucio (Zavarce) is a prankster and class clown whose father is a homicide detective. When one of his classmates tells Lucio about a mysterious stranger, he agrees to keep it a secret—until she vanishes. Soon, more girls are missing, and […]

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