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ROAD HOUSE (1948)

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The primarily urban film noir genre didn’t often venture into rural areas, but when it did, the results were fascinating. In this case, Ida Lupino stars as a sultry singer who carries the wounds of city life with her. The backwoods nightclub where she gets a singing job is hardly a respite, however, as its owner (Richard Widmark) is just as vicious as any big city hood. When she falls for his best friend and manager (Cornel Wilde), it sets the stage for a fiery triangle. Lupino had just left Warner Bros., wanting more control over her career. She commissioned the story “Dark Love” and got former agent Charles K. Feldman to sell it to Fox with her attached to star. She wasn’t the only Warner refugee working on the film. Director Jean Negulesco had just been fired by Jack Warner, even though his last Warners film, Johnny Belinda (1948), would be a big hit. Wilde had also started his career there, and studio head Darryl F. Zanuck had been their head of production in the late 1920s and early 1930s. At Zanuck’s suggestion, Negulesco gave the film the grit and pace of one of the studio’s early gangster films, resulting in one of the most atmospheric of all films noir. This film will be preceded by the Bill Morrison short LIGHT IS CALLING (8min, 35mm, 2004). (d. Jean Negulesco, 95m, Nitrate, 35mm)

Nitrate projection made possible through support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies, and The Film Foundation in partnership with the American Cinematheque and the Academy Film Archive.

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