Subtitled "Rare French Film Noir, 1948-1963," the much-anticipated series "The French Had a Name for It" explores the notion that the French not only gave a name to the dark-end-of-the-street melodramas but that they also made some of the best, most involving examples of the genre. Playing Friday night through Monday night at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre are eight rarely seen films with major stars like Brigitte Bardot, Jean Gabin and Simone Signoret in ways we've not seen them before.
The series opens Friday with a double bill of Bardot, on trial for her life in "La Vérité" and cozying up to the great Gabin in "Love Is My Profession." On Saturday, there's a Lino Ventura double bill, with the crackling "Classe Tous Risques" paired with "Witness in the City." Sunday has two films directed by Julien Duvivier, "Deadlier Than the Male" and "Highway Pickup." The series concludes Monday with two pictures starring Bernard Blier, "The Seventh Juror" and "Dédée d'Anvers," with Signoret in the title role. The movies start at 7:30 p.m. at the Aero, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica.