The Heavy Burden of Amnesia
This year’s selection will present many films introducing (anti-)heroes who became social outcasts based on their race or ethnicity (see the main program section: Noir Without Prejudice) but also those banished from society due to their war experience. Men returning from war and bringing medals of honor as well as PTSD. Men with no return address, tainted by war both on a physical and psychological level. Confused veterans trying to shake off the burden of the past became prevalent protagonists of the late 1940s film noirs. Their minds in shambles, they battled against the world as well as themselves, burrowing deep in a swamp of their own self-doubt. Suffering from amnesia which shattered their identity and personal values.
The stories of these men will shape the program section aptly entitled Amnesiac Noir. This section will present five films: Somewhere in the Night (1946), the Chandler-like knotted story of a man without a past, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring the charismatic John Hodiak. Robert Taylor and his piercing gaze plays the part of an alleged murderer in High Wall (1947), while the innocent face of Robert Cummings befits the role of a confused do-gooder in The Chase (1946). The world as a small and chaotic place full of accidental encounters is portrayed in Richard Fleischer’s early noir The Clay Pigeon (1949) and visually spectacular noir The Crooked Way (1949) with typically avant-garde and expressive camera style of John Alton and directed by Robert Florey.