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Dirty Black Snow

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 6, 2006 6:29PM

There comes a point during the month of December when one grows tired of the cheerful glowing lights, the bell-ringers, the snow, the crowds of people everywhere, the endless logistical nightmares and the omnipresent Christmas music that are part and parcel of the holiday season. We find ourselves reaching just such a point pretty early on this year. If, like us, you're on the verge of pistol-whipping the next motorist that nearly runs you down as you cross an icy street, then it's time to find a catharsis.

2006-12theenforcer.jpgThe folks at the Siskel obviously anticipated this months ago, for this Friday will open their series Noir Noel. Running through January 4, the lineup contains some genuine classics of the genre as well as several rarities. The opening film, The Enforcer, stars Humphrey Bogart as a D.A. who's desperate to shut down the syndicate whose "sinister power literally drives people out of their minds with fear." It screens in a newly restored 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Also showing in a restored print is The Big Combo, directed by Joseph H. Lewis. The ingredients in this undervalued cult item include a pair of gay hit men, some implied oral sex, and torture via hearing aid. And this was made in 1955, people. Sample dialog: "I'm gonna break him so fast he won't have time to change his pants."

Another pair of classics by Lewis, Gun Crazy and My Name Is Julia Ross, are also on the schedule as well as two very rare noirs by blacklisted director John Berry. After watching a few of these, we should be ready to get in the Christmas spirit again. Perhaps we'll add a hot toddy to the mix ... just to make sure.