The Bitter Stems

Argentina | 1956 | 90 minutes | Fernando Ayala

Guilt takes a toll on a down-on-his-luck journalist after he commits the perfect murder in a rarely seen Argentinian classic, restored in 35mm and introduced by Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation—whose Noir City Film Festival returns to SIFF Cinema this July.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

  • Purchased Tickets
  • Limited Availability
  • On Standby
  • Matinee

2:00 PM Date has passed The Czar of Noir Eddie Muller scheduled to attend

A down-and-out Buenos Aires newspaper reporter looking to turn his fortunes around runs into a shady Hungarian expat who lures him into a scheme to start a fraudulent journalism correspondence course. While at first the money is good, the two men begin to suspect each other's motivations, and escalating tensions eventually lead to murder. Could it be the perfect crime, or will gnawing guilt unravel their best-laid plans? Based on the novel "Los Tallos Amargos" by real-life journalist Adolfo Jasca, the film was a big hit in Argentina upon its release, winning the Silver Condor award as the country's best picture in 1957 and earning best-director honors for Fernando Ayala for only his second feature. But for the last half-century, this film-noir gem has gone criminally unrecognized virtually everywhere else—until now. In this special presentation of a recently restored 35mm print, SIFF-goers will discover why The Bitter Stems, shot by prolific Chilean cinematographer Ricardo Younis, has been called one of the "50 Best Photographed Films of All Time" by "American Cinematographer." Be sure not to miss this rare chance to see an almost-forgotten, noir-drenched classic in all its big-screen glory. 35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive; funding provided by Film Noir Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust.

Director Biography
Fernando Ayala (1920–1997) was a notable producer, director, and screenwriter in Argentina, particularly from the 1950s all the way through 1980s. In that time, he assisted in the production of more than 40 different films. The Bitter Stems is an important film in the world of international noir cinema, winning the Argentine Film Critics Association award for the best Argentine film of 1957. In 2000, the film placed 49th on "American Cinematographer"'s list of "Best Photographed Films of All Time."

Sponsored by KIXI 880 AM

  • Original Language Title: Los Tallos Amargos
  • Director: Fernando Ayala
  • Principal Cast: Carlos Cores, Aída Luz, Julia Sandoval, Vassili Lambrinos
  • Country: Argentina
  • Year: 1956
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Producer: Hector Olivera, Fernando Ayala
  • Screenplay: Sergio Leonardo, from the novel by Adolfo Jasca
  • Cinematographers: Ricardo Younis
  • Editors: Gerardo Rinaldi, Antonio Ripoll
  • Music: Astor Piazzolla
  • Filmography: The Night of the Pencils (1987); The Deal (1983); From the Abyss (1979); The Tango Tells Its Story (1976); Triangle of Four (1975); Argentinísima (1972); El professor patagónico (1970); La fiaca (1969); The Hippie Professor (1969); Viaje de una noche de verano (1965); Paula cautiva (1963); El jefe (1958)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: 35mm
  • US Distributor: The Film Noir Foundation
  • International Sales: UCLA Film & Television Archive