Dark Dreams: The Original Film Noir Series

Dark Dreams: The Original Film Noir Series

USA | 106 min. | Multiple

September 27 - November 30, 2023

Nine films on nine nights, September 27–November 30 | SIFF Cinema Egyptian

All films screen at 7:30pm

Dark dreams, the steamy glow of desire and danger. The promise of easy money and forever love. The heart rules—or does chance, the trickster you trust? Who will be left standing when the morning comes?

Series Pass discount for members of SIFF, SAM, Festa Italiana, Alliance Francaise de Seattle, UW Cinema Studies, Cornish, SFI, TheFilmSchool, Scarecrow Video, and KING FM. Single tickets are $15 each.

Schedule & Tickets

SIFF year-round passes and vouchers are not valid for this series.

Seattle's, and the world's, longest-running film noir celebration spotlights sixty years of noir style, stories, and reflections of America, from 1944 to 2007. "Greg Olson, Seattle's best-ever film curator" (Charles. R. Cross), tracks the hard-boiled, visually stunning noir sensibility from its glorious black and white beginnings to more recent vibrantly hued triumphs by the Coen brothers and Stanley Kubrick. Noir explores the dark side of the American Dream: beautiful, bad, ready for romance in the shadows. Charles R. Cross continues, "Greg's noir series knocks it out of the park by including some of my favorite films--and some of the best films of all time--along with a few modern movies that would have never have existed without noir influence." Film Professor Dr. John Trafton adds, "Dark Dreams is a thrilling, mesmerizing journey for both die hard noir fans and the uninitiated. There is so much to love here, from classics to the unexpected and challenging."

Theater concessions available, including beer and wine, with Top Pot Doughnuts free on opening night. Before the films, a Noir Music Playlist by Tova Gannana. 

Series presented by Greg Olson Productions.

  • Director: Multiple
  • Principal Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Nicole Kidman, Jack Nicholson
  • Country: USA
  • Running Time: 106 min.


Double Indemnity

Sep 27: Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944). Many say film noir started here, in the warm honeysuckle air, the white stucco mansion, the wife (Barbara Stanwyck) wearing only a towel, wanting to take out an insurance policy on her husband. Insurance man Fred MacMurray is smitten by the hot gust of her sexual allure, and their steamy verbal exchanges (penned by noir word master Raymond Chandler, from James M. Cain's novel) raise our temperatures. Hooked on each other, they'll follow a dark plan "to the end of the line." But MacMurray also loves his boss (Edward G. Robinson), a fatherly, intuitive man with a built in lie detector. Film noir visuals may be crisp black and white, but noir dwells in a foggy zone of moral complexity, where a kiss can whisper like a gunshot. With the fateful, forward-driving music of Miklos Rozsa. 106 min.

Criss Cross

Oct 4: Criss Cross

Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak,1949). Often in film noir, passionate narrators obsessed with the past share their fever dreams of longing. Alluring Yvonne De Carlo says she and her man have been together "from the start." And rugged Burt Lancaster says "From the start it all went one way, it was fate." Now they're divorced, but they find each other again. Trouble is, she's set to marry slick con man Dan Duryea, and Lancaster's Police Detective buddy Stephen McNally becomes a player in the drama. A clear path seems set, as Lancaster teams with Duryea on a big armored car robbery, but fate is still pulling the strings. With impish character actor Percy Helton, Miklos Rozsa's compelling music. 87 min.

Black Angel

Oct 11: Black Angel

Black Angel (Roy William Neill, 1946). In film noir actors are able to embody characters beyond the boundaries of their usual, expected personas. Dan Duryea is one of noir's iconic villains, but here he's a sympathetic composer who drinks too much. When Duryea's mean ex-wife (Constance Dowling) is murdered, tough cop Broderick Crawford suspects him, but Duryea was locked in his room that night by a friend, passed out in an alcoholic haze. Dowling was a nasty blackmailer, and one of her victims (John Phillips) is locked up for her murder. Phillips' wife (June Vincent) believes him to be innocent, and enlists Duryea to sleuth out the real killer. They go underground as performers at a nightclub owned by Peter Lorre, who had shady dealings with Dowling in the past. Even if Phillips proves innocent, he was a scoundrel, so Duryea hopes Vincent can hear the melodies sent straight from his heart. From the perverse sensibility of noir novelist Cornell Woolrich. 83 min.

Sunset Boulevard

Oct 18: Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950). Glenn Close did a stellar job of portraying Norma Desmond on Broadway. But no one can top Gloria Swanson—age appropriate to Norma, having once been, like her, the toast of silent films—playing a forgotten sister of the Hollywood Dream family. Aged Norma, a slave to staying beautiful and young, occupying her decaying mansion, feeling lost, dead to the world. She needs the pulse of new blood, in the form of screenwriter William Holden. For him she's delusional, pathetic, almost grotesque, but her aura of Old Hollywood is seductive. She's a dark, dangerous enchantress who means it when she purrs, "Mad about the boy." With Erich Von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Jack Webb (before Dragnet), Buster Keaton. 115 min.

In a Lonely Place

Oct 24: In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950). King of Film Noir Humphrey Bogart found his greatest role as a gifted screenwriter who's "killed dozens of people...in my films." He's a sensitive artist who doesn't suffer fools—and tells them so. Arrogant, alienated, he's in a prison of his own making, And soon maybe behind steel bars, after a woman he was with is found murdered. Director Ray, a poet of poignant emotions, studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, and he renders Bogart's courtyard apartment complex as a map of existential choices. Opposite Bogart's bungalow lives a woman (Gloria Grahame) who's stirred by him and gives him an alibi for "that night." Maybe lonely night winds also bring love. With Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid. 94 min.


Nov 2: Chinatown

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974). Set in 1938, this film ushered in the late-20th-century new wave of noir cinema, though its tale is timeless as human greed, corruption, sexual transgression, madness. At a time when America's self-confident hubris was being battered by the godawful Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, political assassinations, Richard Nixon's machinations; when Roman Polanski's wife and unborn child had been slaughtered by the Manson Family; when screenwriter Robert Towne felt Los Angeles, the place and its history in his bloodstream, and Jack Nicholson was in his sly, cocky bad-ass prime, a movie drenched in sunshine beauty and existential dread was made. Chinatown, a metaphor for the mind's hidden places, a zone where the best intentions do no good. A perfect movie, many say, aided and abetted by the glorious Faye Dunaway, and haunted by fatherly John Huston. John A. Alonzo's camera captures the creamy Los Angeles light that spawned the movie industry; the midnight trumpet of Jerry Goldsmith's music laments what might have been. 131 min.

The Big Lebowski

Nov 9: The Big Lebowski 25th Anniversary

The Big Lebowski 25th Anniversary (Ethan and Joel Coen, 1998). Esteemed critic-author David Thomson calls Lebowski "a key work of 20th-century culture," and beyond, for the Dude (Jeff Bridges) abides, he being a soft-boiled man of inaction, Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe in slacker mode, as conjured by the pop culture-savvy Coen brothers. Like a Taoist Master, the Dude goes with the flow, even when it becomes a chaotic tsunami of mistaken identities, kidnapping, missing money, bowling with friends, White Russian cocktails, tangling with nihilists, unanswered questions quickly replaced by new ones. The Dude's the still point in the center, "taking it easy for all us sinners." With John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott, David Huddleston. 25th Anniversary restoration. 117 min.

No Country for Old Men

Nov 16: No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2007). To say that the Coen brothers' cinematic talents are deep and wide is an understatement. They can conjure The Big Lebowski's rambling realm of enchanted, overflowing wackiness, then win Oscars for writing and directing Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy's (1933-2023) pared down, piercing West Texas existential tale, which also won Best Picture. In heat and light rendered with the intensity of Camus' The Stranger, an open-range hunter (Josh Brolin) happens upon a drug deal gone bad, and a case bulging with $2 million. It's not his, but he takes it, and one Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), like a biblical personification of walking Dread, comes to retrieve it and wreak havoc as he travels the searing land. But a philosophical peacekeeper on horseback, sheriff Tommy Lee Jones, also lives in these parts. Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (BLADE RUNNER 2049, 1917), as he did in Big Lebowski, works his magic with light. He and the Coen's give us vast plains of space—but where can you hide? With Kelly Macdonald, Woody Harrelson. 122 min.

Eyes Wide Shut

Nov 30: Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999). Stanley Kubrick (1929-2007) loved David Lynch's films, and Lynch loves Kubrick's work. Lynch feels we're all detectives in life, confronted with mysteries, searching for clues and meanings. In Kubrick's final film, top-of-the-world New York doctor Tom Cruise's cushy, stable existence becomes a dark labyrinth of doubt and suspicion when his lovely wife (Nicole Kidman) tells him, "If you men only knew what we women think and do." Suddenly unsure of her faithfulness, Cruise embarks on an aesthetically stunning nocturnal mystery quest steeped in desire, fear, and strangely eroticized encounters. Is he acting out a new sense of freedom, seeking sexual revenge, or yearning to get back to his comfy home nest? Eyes is based on Dream Book by Arthur Schnitzler, a contemporary of Freud's in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Freud said he gained his psychological knowledge through diligent study and experimentation, while Schnitzler felt he amassed his insights through imagination and intuition, the wellsprings of Lynch's creative process. People experience Lynch's and Kubrick's films and ask, "Is it all a dream?" To the human psyche, our mind-body consciousness, waking and dream life are both real. With Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Todd Field, and a rare Kubrick cameo. 159 min.