March 30, 2019
The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.
New York, NY 10027
1946 / 86 min / b/w
Dir. Arthur Ripley / Scr. Philip Yordan
Cast: Robert Cummings, Michele Morgan, Peter Lorre
Adapted from The Black Path of Fear (1944)
35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Franco-American Cultural Fund.
Introduced by J. Hoberman, Columbia University
This screening is part of The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Into the Night: Cornell Woolrich and Film Noir
In 1946, film critics didn’t quite know what to make of The Chase. “Its highly improbable plot has the eerie sensation of a bad dream,” wrote Life magazine. It is a work “more confusing than suspenseful,” wrote the New York Times. It reveals how far “narrative innovation could go in the 1940s,” observes David Bordwell in a more recent reassessment. All of which is true: The film’s dream-logic structure recalls not its peers, but the surrealist noir of Mulholland Drive (2001) made more than 50 years later. To date, the film is loved by those committed to the avant-garde. Experimental director Guy Maddin recorded a commentary track for The Chase’s Blu-ray, where he likened the film to the works of David Lynch.
Several of the most striking elements of this Havana-set noir stem not from the Woolrich novel but from the minds of Ripley, Yordan, and producer Seymour Nebenzal (M, 1931; The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, 1933). Nebenzal shot three different endings for the film, and he found its bizarre structure at least partially in post-production. The Chase’s signature plot device – the villain’s modified car – was also an invention of Ripley and Yordan.
Still, it would be unfair to say that Woolrich’s source novel lacked avant-garde instincts. As Thomas Renzi has argued, The Black Path of Fear is a novel where “tonal considerations supersede strict narrative logic.” The same, of course, could be said of The Chase.
Tickets: $12 General Admission / $10 Seniors (65 and older) / $8 Student*
Packages: $40 for four films / $75 for all films
Advance ticket sales available online only
Day-of screening ticket sales available on-site, pending availability
*Students will have access to free rush tickets 30 minutes prior to each screening, pending availability and with a valid CUID.
About the Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Short story maestro, former Columbia student, muse of suspense filmmakers: Cornell Woolrich (1903–1968) lived all of these lives. The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival presents 12 adaptations of Woolrich’s fiction: from the canonized masterworks of Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut to lesser known “B” films and Monogram potboilers. Many films will be screened in 35mm.
This festival is the second in a ten-year series devoted to the legacy of film noir. It was funded by a generous gift from alumnus Gordon Kit (Columbia College ’76), in honor of his parents.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org