A long-lost film noir gets a second look

November 5, 2015 - photo frame

A classical film noir that was abruptly suspended during a Red Scare of a 1950s is finally anticipating an audience, interjection to a efforts of a 93-year-old associate producer.

Harold Nebenzal worked on “M,” a 1951 American reconstitute of executive Fritz Lang’s classic 1931 German Expressionist thriller. Nebenzal’s father, Seymour, constructed both a strange and a remake, that was shot partly in a Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles and on Bunker Hill.

Peter Lorre starred in a strange film, as a child-killer driven by wild compulsions and wanted both by a military and a rapist underworld. David Wayne played a partial in a remake. Nebenzal says a film’s prospects looked good, until picketers collected outward an early press screening.

“When we came out during a end, there was a American Legion with placards observant ‘Communist picture,’” Nebenzal says. “They objected to [director] Joe Losey and they objected to a screenwriter and they objected to many of a cast.”

Columbia, a studio that was distributing a film, folded underneath a pressure. Losey and screenwriter Waldo Salt were blacklisted, and American audiences never saw “M,” nonetheless a film was eventually expelled in Europe.

More than 60 years later, Nebenzal still seethes over a anti-Communist picketing of a movie: “I put in four-and-a-half years in a Marine Corps and 12 years in a Marine Corps reserve. And we saw those idiots with their signs, perplexing to pronounce for what is nationalistic and what is American.”

Columbia’s preference to postpone a film “had a catastrophic outcome on my father’s career,” Nebenzal adds. Seymour Nebenzal had constructed dozens of films in Germany and France before journey a Nazis and starting over in Hollywood. After “M,” he worked on usually one some-more film before his genocide in 1961.

Film historian Jim Dawson wrote about a 1951 chronicle of “M” in his book, “Los Angeles’s Bunker Hill: Pulp Fiction’s Mean Streets and Film Noir’s Ground Zero!” He says a film offers good footage of mid-century L.A. and some conspicuous performances, though it hasn’t been easy to find. “Up until a integrate of years or so back, we couldn’t get a good copy,” Dawson says. “For a time, a usually one that existed was in a British Film Museum.”

That altered recently, when Nebenzal schooled a film was being pirated in France. He re-secured a copyright for a film, and done a primitive duplicate available. The response has vacant him.

“This guy in Paris took it into placement over there,” he says. “And hence we went to a Lyon Film Festival. And a design is going to go into distribution. It’s going to go on Turner Film Classics. This thing is snowballing. It’s illusory that there’s such interest.”

Harold Nebenzal will deliver a screening of a 1951 chronicle of “M” during a Million Dollar Theatre on Nov. 5. Ticket sales support a Angels Flight Railway Foundation in their efforts to free a ancestral funicular railway on Bunker Hill.

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