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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Two John Payne Films Noir at The New Beverly March 24 & 25

The New Beverly presents two overlooked and oft forgotten Noirs from silver screen hunk John Payne’s repertoire.

Mentioning John Payne and Film Noir in the same sentence is virtually an oxymoron considering his main claim to fame is as the leading man to Alice Faye and Betty Grable in 1930s musicals, and playing opposite Maureen O’Hara in one of the most beloved Christmas films of all time, “Miracle on 34th Street”. And even though he was one of the most handsome men ever to grace the silver screen, Tyron Power and Robert Taylor often overshadowed Payne, leaving him less remembered than he deserves. Nevertheless, Payne’s films are always a pleasure to see, and here’s a chance to see two films unavailable on DVD projected on the big screen. You know, like they use to do in the old days.

First up on the billing at 7:30 is director Phil Karlson’s “Kansas City Confidential”. Considered an essential heist film, “Kansas City Confidential” is rife with key elements used in many future films such as “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “The Usual Suspects”. An ex-con (Payne) trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits. Although John Payne is better remembered for his singing pipes and college-boy good looks, Payne proves here to be a formidable noir hero, as equal to the task as Robert Mitchum or Dana Andrews. Quintessential bad man Lee Van Cleef and wild eyed Jack Elam co-star.

Featured on the same bill is “99 River Street”, also directed by Phil Karlson. Payne is a heavyweight boxer who has lost a championship match, and now drives a taxi for a living much to the scorn of his nagging wife and winds up involved with underhander business with less than reputable men. He matches wits with Evelyn Keyes and Brad Dexter as they maneuver their way through the machinations of an underground machine. This film is considered by Film Noir Of The Week as “One of the most hardboiled, brutal, and inexplicably forgotten films of the noir cycle’. Come to the New Beverly Wednesday or Thursday and decide for yourself. It’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed, or even have a better time at the movies this Spring, even after the summer blockbusters start rolling out.

Advance tickets may be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets. Advance tickets are not sold at the box office. Currently, only general admission tickets may be purchased via this link. Discounted student, senior, etc. tickets may not be purchased in advance. Any available tickets will also be sold at the theater box office the day of the event. Purchasing advance tickets is generally unnecessary for most shows, as the only programs that ever come close to selling out are special event shows with special guests, etc. Plenty of tickets are available at the door for nearly all of the programs.

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