Friday, February 01, 2013

Experiment in Terror

When I arrived at the Castro Theatre to see Experiment in Terror at the Noir City Film Festival on Wednesday night, the movie was sold out. I joined the rush line, & after about 20 minutes we all got in. We were told to look for seats in the balcony, since the downstairs was completely packed. The program was introduced by Eddie Muller & Miss Noir City, Audra Wolfmann, who drew prizes for 4 members of the audience.

This was the world premiere of the 4K digital restoration of Experiment in Terror, a 1962 movie by Blake Edwards, set in San Francisco & starring Lee Remick as a bank teller being terrorized by a killer into committing a robbery for him. Blake Edwards was scrupulous in his use of actual San Francisco locations. An establishing shot of a hospital shows the 38-Geary stopping in front of Kaiser. The bank teller's teenager sister is instructed to meet the killer at 25th & Clement, & the encounter clearly happens on that block. The restoration looks pristine, & the stylish soundtrack by Henry Mancini sounds especially crisp. The film's Chinese characters are surprisingly free of racial stereotyping.

The festival audience was lively. Many came dressed for the 1940s. There was laughter & applause for the movie's weirdest scene, in which the killer, played by Ross Martin, stalks Lee Remick in a ladies room, disguised as a woman. The audience also applauded the climax in which the killer is gunned down on the pitchers mound of Candlestick Park following a SF vs LA game. Rather eerily, he looks just like the Unabomber. Immediately following the feature, we saw a neat video identifying the movie's location shots & showing what they look like today.

§ Experiment in Terror
(1962, Columbia Pictures, 123 min.)
Brand New 4K Digital Restoration!

Noir City 11: The Sniper / Experiment In Terror
Wednesday, January 30: San Francisco Noir
Castro Theatre

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