Film noir series gets into the dark side of classic movies

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in "The Big Sleep."

Intrigue, espionage, betrayal, deception, blackmail, murder — it’s just a typical Wednesday at the Edgartown library, this month and next. The library’s latest film series focuses on film noir. They’re calling it, appropriately, “Tough Broads and Big Lugs,” which will give you some idea of who’s calling the shots in the seven featured films.

The series will include some time-tested classics and some modern takes on the genre, as well as a couple of unearthed gems. Among the latter is “Bob le Flambeur” (Bob the Gambler), which plays Nov. 30. The 1956 French gangster film deals with a complicated casino robbery plan. It is considered the precursor and inspiration for the French new wave. The film was remade in 2002 in English as “The Good Thief,” starring Nick Nolte and directed by Neil Jordan.

Next up, on Nov. 19 is “Chinatown,” Roman Polanski’s masterfully told tale of corruption in 1930’s LA, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.

On Dec. 7, the library will screen the neo-noir crime drama “The Grifters” from 1990. The film, a double- and triple-cross classic starring John Cusack, Annette Bening, and Anjelica Huston, was a critics’ favorite which earned four Academy Award nominations.

The following Wednesday, Dec. 14, the series will continue with another neo-noir film, “The American Friend,” directed by Wim Wenders and starring Dennis Hopper. The production is German, though it is an English-language film. An adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith crime novel “Ripley’s Game,” the film features the same protagonist as the 1990 film “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” starring Matt Damon. Critics consider “The American Friend” to be among the best of the neo-noir genre.

The series will conclude with the Bogart/Bacall classic “The Big Sleep,” the first film version of Raymond Chandler‘s 1939 novel of the same name. “The Big Sleep,” directed by Howard Hawks, perpetually tops critics’ lists of best film noir movies of all time, and makes it a fitting finale to the library’s series.

All films will be shown at 7 pm in the program room, which features a state-of-the-art video system and seating for up to 100 people.

Also coming up at the Edgartown library is a Lord of the Rings marathon. Over Thanksgiving weekend, viewers can catch all of the popular trilogy films. “The Fellowship of the Ring” will screen on Friday, Nov. 25, at noon, followed by “The Two Towers” on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 11 am, and “The Return of the King” on Saturday at 3 pm. This will be a great opportunity to check out these popular spectacles on a big screen.

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