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Making Out Like Bandits

The San Francisco Film Noir Festival brings back-to-back crime drama to the Castro Theatre.


Hard-nosed detectives and dishy dames reign as the San Francisco Film Noir Festival brings seven decades’ worth of crime drama to the Castro Theatre. The 10-night event, dubbed The Big Knockover: Heist Movies, crisscrosses the globe to show what it’s like to rob a bank in England, Japan, and France. Here are some of the best.

Four Ways Out (1951)
Festival organizers got hold of what may be the last existing print of this Italian feature—written by Federico Fellini—about a group of men who rob a soccer stadium and then hide out from the law as their personal lives crumble. The sultry Gina Lollobrigida stars as the dame. Jan. 21, 7:15 p.m. 

Once a Thief (1965)
French matinee idol Alain Delon plays an ex-con forced to commit one last crime. “Everybody in this whole stinking world is a thief,” bad guy Jack Palance growls in this smoky classic, shot on the real streets of San Francisco. Jan. 25, 7:15 p.m.

Blue Collar (1978)
Paul Schrader’s directorial debut, starring Richard Pryor, isn’t one of the latter’s typical comedies, but rather an ahead-of-its-time parable about desperate autoworkers who rob their union office. “The final image applies so directly to what’s happening today that I expect a vocal response when we show it,” festival director Eddie Muller says. Jan. 27, 7:15 p.m.

Victoria (2015)
Shot in one take across 22 (!) locations in Berlin, Victoria starts like a meet-cute rom-com about a down-on-her-luck waitress, but quickly evolves into a tense, gangster-filled heist flick. In a first for this fest, Victoria was shot digitally. According to Muller, the film feels “completely believable start to finish, like a magic trick. You cannot find a cut.” Jan. 29, 3:20 and 8:20 p.m.

Originally published in the January issue of
San Francisco 

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