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French film noir series screens in Santa Monica

French film noir series screens in Santa Monica
Michel Auclair and Cécile Aubry in the 1949 French film "Manon." (American Cinematheque)

The French not only named film noir but it turns out they also had a gift for working in this dark and twisty genre. The American Cinematheque offers a chance to experience eight of these bleak gems in "The French Had a Name for It 2," the sequel to last year's groundbreaking series.

Opening things Oct. 6 is a double bill featuring the great Jean Gabin. "Le Jour se Leve (Daybreak)" is a classic of romantic fatalism by Jacques Prévert and Marcel Carné. In "La Vérité sur Bébé Donge (The Truth of Our Marriage)," Gabin faces off against Danielle Darrieux as the wife who poisoned him.

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Next, on Oct. 7, is a Simone Signoret double bill: Henri-Georges Clouzot's masterful "Diabolique" and Yves Allégret's "Manèges (The Wanton)" with Signoret as a scheming wife.

Oct. 8 pairs René Clément's "Les Félins (Joy House),"  an unlikely coupling of Alain Delon and Jane Fonda, with Édouard Molinaro's "Le Dos au Mur (Back to the Wall),"  with Jeanne Moreau luminous as an unfaithful wife.

The series ends Oct. 9 with a Clément/Clouzot double bill. "Manon," an updating of the Abbé Prévost novel, won a Golden Lion at Venice for Clouzot, while Clément's "Les Maudits (The Damned)"  shows just how tense things can get when escaping Nazis use a submarine to escape.

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"The French Had a Name for It 2," 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 260-1528 or www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/ Double bills nightly, Oct. 6-9, 7:30 p.m.

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