I WAKE UP DREAMING — Elliot Lavine Interview
Elliot Lavine, San Francisco, CA 5/8/14
To talk to Elliot Lavine is to have a boisterous and passionate lesson in not just the history of film, but also of its psychology. Specifically the psychological effect, intended or not, that the genre known as film nor has on an audience. Levine (the “I” is hard, as in Hollywood and Vine) has an inclusive definition of Noir that allows him to program his popular festivals with films from the 1930s through the 1960s. It may not be the classical definition of Film Noir, but emotionally, it’s unassailable.
When we spoke on May 8, 2014, I started with Rob Devor’s THE WOMAN CHASER, finely wrought neo-noir that walks the fine line between gritty and absurd with a career-defining performance by Patrick Warburton. It’s also a cult-classic that Lavine had programmed into the festival before, and that has yet to become available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Though not in this year’s festival, it’s a film that Lavine has championed over the years and if anyone would have an update on its status, he would. And he did.
The rest of the conversation was a meditation on the relationship between film and dream, a meditation in which which he used the word “id” with an incisive insouciance. He went on to discuss why I WAKE UP SCREAMING is usually considered the first Film Noir, and the origin Lavine’s title for his series, as well as Todd Browning’s unsettling Hollywood career, why the Bowery Boys are not what we thought they were, and how he first got hooked on Film Noir. Spoiler alert: It was Edgar G. Ulmer’s DETOUR.
The piquantly programmed festival of dark treasures from the Warners Archives includes proto-, neo-, and classically noir classics and curiosities screening from May 16 to May 25 at the fabulous Roxie Theater here in equally fabulous San Francisco. These morsels span the years 1932 to 1965, some little seen, some not available in DVD, all worth checking out. Lavine is a cinema teacher, who has been programming films at the Roxie since VHS was in vogue. He is the recipient of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Marlon Riggs Award for courage and extraordinary vision in Bay Area filmmaking, artistry and contributions to cinema. He is also a devoté, and rightly so, of Rob Devor’s overlooked masterpiece, THE WOMAN CHASER starring the incomparable Patrick Warburton.
Click the link to listen to the interview (22:05) I WAKE UP DREAMING — Elliot Lavine Interview.
For the full schedule of I WAKE UP DREAMING 2014 , click here.