The Noir City Film Festival
kicked off last week at the Music Box Theatre here in Chicago and I was fortunate enough to be granted 2 festival passes in order to view several of the films with a companion. The closing night of the festival is tomorrow so there’s still time to catch a double feature for only $9.25 in a historic theatre.
Of course the festival required a vintage outfit complete with hat; this is more costume-like than my day-to-day wear but such a occasion called for it! It was difficult picking out a Noir-inspired outfit to wear in 80-degree weather as most of the films seem to be set in the autumn or winter (ie little wool suits, tilt hats, long evening gowns). Fortunately I’d picked up this lighter weight red herringbone jacket (probably from the 1950s) at the Brown Elephant a while ago so I built the look around it– the hat and leopard print purse are also likely from the 1950s but my skirt and shoes are contemporary.
If I was actually a character in a Noir film I’d more likely be the ingenue or the spunky female newspaper woman rather than a hardboiled dame toting a pistol. It’s difficult looking mysterious in photos when the sun is shining brightly, non-smiling photos of me also don’t turn out well.
1950s red felt hat with feathers: Thrifted in Chicago 4 years ago (Salvation Army??)
1950s leopard handbag: Babe Ahern estate sale, Chicago
1950s suit jacket: Brown Elephant thrift, Chicago
Art Deco diamond & onyx gold ring: Flea Market in Wicker Park
Cheap Monday pencil skirt
Urban Outfitters red suede t-strap heels
My lovely friend and fellow blogger Sara was kind enough to meet up with me after the movie to take photos of my outfit. She lives within walking distance of the Music Box Theatre so we took photos in the alley behind her apartment.
Chicago is lucky to have a thriving vintage theatre like the Music Box, it was originally built in 1929 as a smaller neighborhood movie house and seated only 800 people compared to the deluxe movie palaces downtown that were multi-use and could seat over 3,000. It’s partially for this reason that the Music Box has been able to survive the decades and is now being used to show foreign, revival, independent and cult films. The Music Box retains several of its original features including the ticket window I’m standing in front of in the above picture and its marquee.
Unfortunately I am not a film critic so I’m not going to delve into the details of the two movies I saw, “The Blue Dahlia” (1946) starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake and “The Chicago Deadline” (1949) starring Alan Ladd, Donna Reed and June Havoc. I’d recently finished reading Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye,” so chose to see “The Blue Dahlia” as he wrote the screenplay for the movie. Familiar Chandler character detective Philip Marlowe, however, is replaced by the character played by Ladd, a returning WWII veteran who must solve a murder in order to prove his own innocence.
“The Chicago Deadline” played to a packed theatre as it was actually shot here in the city and is a rare print and unavailable on DVD. The main draw for me was seeing the Chicago my grandmother grew up in and to see what the El and the skyline looked like in the 1940s. Surprisingly most of the action of the story took place in the Loop and River West areas instead of the city’s neighborhoods. The actual plotline was a labyrinth but Ladd plays a detective who falls in love with the dead girl whose murder he’s attempting to solve. Donna Reed plays the victim and we see snatches of her life through flashbacks narrated by her friends, relatives and lovers that Ladd manages to track down. In terms of cinematography, “The Chicago Deadline” is less stylistic and is done in a more straightforward, documentary style.