Mailbox

The Foundation posts the most interesting correspondence it receives from around the world, with an emphasis on how the films have shaped and affected the lives of viewers.

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SNUGGLED WITH FAVORITE FILM OLDIES

Snuggled with Favorite Film Noir Oldies - Willie Hilburn, Jr.

Wiley Hilburn, Jr. writes about his early encounters with noir films growing up in Lousiana's Lincoln Parish, and divulges his top ten list. READ MORE.

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

They Live by Night

This noir love story is one of my favorites. I saw it as a teenager in the 60s on NY's WOR Million Dollar Movie (same old movie, shown twice a day, for 7 days straight). It stayed with me till I saw it on either TCM of AMC (when it was still good).

Back in late '77 or '78, I was working in a book store in Soho, called "New Morning." I was working the register up front, it was about 4 in the afternoon, with shafts of autumnal sunlight slanting through the front windows on to the lacquered wooden floor. I looked up to see a tall skeletal figure in jeans and a raggedy brown crewneck sweater shamble up to the register. It was Nick Ray, in I guess what was the last year of his life.*

He lived above the store with his wife, Susan. She came down often, but this was the first time I ever saw him. He reached into his pants pocket and with some difficulty pulled out a tiny piece of paper. It was a check which had been folded and crumpled up. It was for a hundred dollars. He said, smiling slightly, "I'm afraid I don't have any identification, but my name is Nicholas Ray and I..." I held up my hand and smiled back at him.

"I know who you are, Mr. Ray," I said, "that's all right."

Nicholas RayHe signed his name to the check, I gave him the money, and he thanked me. I like to think he was thanking me not for the money, but for not making him suffer the added indignity of having to explain to some cashier who he was. I later learned that Wim Wenders was filming his documentary, Lighting Over Water above the store, saving for posterity the final days of a great American artist. It was such a small thing I did for him, but I'll always be glad I had the opportunity.

— Ralph Pape, New York

*Nicholas Ray died June 16, 1979.


TWO BULLETS IN THE CHAMBER

Two Bullets in the Chamber - Rob KellyRob Kelly is a New Jersey-based illustrator and graphic designer who draws much inspiration from noir — so much, in fact, that he's liable to create a poster for a film that exists only in his head ... as he demonstrated in the note he recently sent. READ MORE.

ENCOUNTER WITH ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Encounter with Alfred HitchcockSeveral months before his passing, writer Malvin Wald, famous for his groundbreaking screenplay of Naked City, shared some remembrances of his working days in Hollywood, including funny tidbits about "The Master of Suspense." READ MORE.

MILDRED PIERCE

I enjoyed your interview of Ann Blyth at the Castro Theatre. And it was great to see Mildred Pierce on the big screen again. I first saw this film on television after school one day in 1965. That’s the day I learned what a lasting impact it had made on my mother, who arrived home from work during the middle of the movie, took one look at the image on the television screen and said, "That’s Mildred Pierce." Then she sat down and was glued to the screen for the rest of the picture. According to her diary from 1945, she saw Mildred Pierce on November 7, 1945. On November 10, she bought a fur coat identical to the one Joan Crawford wears as Mildred... READ MORE.

THE WINDOW

The WindowAs a child in McPherson, Kansas, I always looked forward to Friday night. There was a buzz about the house as we anticipated the evening’s entertainment. When Dad came home, he changed from his Conoco work uniform into his casual slacks and shirt. My brother and I were already dressed in our school clothes, checkered shirts and blue jeans. Mother changed out of the plain-patterned dress she wore for housecleaning and cooking, and into something more “presentable” for an evening out. Our parents always decided what we’d see. We were just excited to be going out and experiencing the thrill of the cinema... READ MORE

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