Film Noir UK: RKO Noir/Horror Double Bill

As part of the BFI's In Dreams are Monsters, Film Noir UK presents the two special double bills highly the work and influences of Val Lewton (1904-1951).

A revered name to all horror film enthusiasts, Val Lewton is remembered chiefly for the magnificent series of low budget films he produced at RKO between 1942 and 1946. In those years Lewton over saw films which were subtle psychological studies which blurred the lines between the characteristic of both horror and film noir.

These two special curated double bills showcases the best of Val Lewton's work during and after his period at RKO:

  • Saturday 19th November: Double Bill 1: Cat People (1942) and The Seventh Victim (1943)
  • Saturday 3rd December: Double Bill 2: The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Both screenings will take place at the former Bristol IMAX site (part of the Bristol Aquarium complex) in the centre of Bristol.

Launched in late 2021 by South West Silents, Film Noir UK is the first dedicated film organisation in the United Kingdom celebrating the ever influential world of film noir.

South West Silents is a not-for-profit organisation. With support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery in order to bring this project to more audiences across the UK



Saturday, 3 December 2022

2:00pm – 3:30pm UTC
Double Bill 2: The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Director: Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise Starring: Kent Smith, Ann Carter, Jane Randolph, Simone Simon, Eve March PG /  70mins / USA

Robert Wise’s directorial debut follows on from RKO’s 1942 Cat People, The Curse of the Cat People (1944) continues the story of the first film’s Oliver Reed. Reed (played by Kent Smith) has now remarried, living in idyllic Tarrytown, New York and the father of six-year-old Amy (Ann Carter).

When Amy becomes withdrawn and speaks of consorting with a new "friend", Oliver worries that she may be under the influence of the spirit of his first wife Irena. Is it just Amy's imagination or has ‘The Curse of the Cat People’ come to terrorise Reed’s life once more? With thanks to BFI Audience Network and Lobster Films, Paris.

3:45pm – 5:00pm UTC
Double Bill 2: The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Director: Robert Siodmak Starring: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore PG /  102mins / USA

While Val Lewton left RKO in 1946, but his influence on the studio’s output continued. Set in the first decade of the 20th century, The Spiral Staircase (1946) tells the story of a shadowy serial killer (or is It a shadowy monster?) who has already murdered three girls in a small New England town.

Helen Capel (Dorothea McGuire), a mute since childhood, is a servant girl in an bitter widow's household. Caught between the widow's two psychologically opposed sons Helen comes to suspect that the killer might be within her four walls. After being warned of the danger to her personal safety, she makes plans to leave the dark old house, but is it just too late?

Directed by Film Noir regular Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Criss Cross, Phantom Lady) with the help the master of light and shadow Nicholas Musuraca (Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, The Seventh Victim) Spiral Staircase is a wonderful conclusion to this cinematic influences of the great Val Lewton.

With thanks to BFI Audience Network and Lobster Films, Paris.