Thanks for visiting. This site will no longer be updated.

Please visit my new site.

You can find new writing, new photos at


Friday, January 30, 2009

"I love this dirty town."

The film noir festival, Noir City 7, continues through this weekend. One of my favorite films-- period-- is showing on the last day, Sunday: Sweet Smell of Success.

(Roger Ebert's Great Movies essay is here, and this in-depth write up on filmsite.org is a detailed walkthrough for us groupies.)

This film has absolutely everything going for it: amazing, crackling, memorable dialogue; well-crafted characters at every level; the incomparable cinematography of James Wong Howe, I could go on and on but if you're really interested, the links above speak better than I could...

This scene below is probably one of the best in the film and shows why the Sweet Smell of Success is worth seeing over and over again.


Yesterday morning, the MUNI train I was riding went out of service at Civic Center Station. Rather than wait with the huge, annoyed crowds of people all going my way, I decided to walk the remaining blocks since I was going to be late either way.

Civic Center Station drops you off in the heart of the Tenderloin which, for its bad rep, still is photogenic in its way. The trick is that you just gotta keep walking. You don't hang out and you don't dawdle.

I didn't think too much of these shots at first-- they were something to do while I walked to work, slightly pissed off-- but when you give these images the Noir Treatment, even an early morning photo attains some atmosphere.

Amazing what you can see in 10 minutes sometimes.
And how sometimes black and white makes it easier to see.

See you at the movies.

Happy Free Friday, guys.


Claire January 30, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

great photos- the tenderloin is clearly perfectly cut out for the noir treatment. plus, i am shamelessly infatuated with black and white photography, so this post was right up my alley!

Janet January 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM  

fantastic photographs ~ they really capture the moment! Happy friday to you too!

Gabby January 30, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

You were intuitive and brilliant as always to do these in B&W. I mean, Lancaster is the devil incarnate in that movie. One of the all time serious looks beneath the glitz of the Broadway scene and grey flannel America of the 50s. It's a killer.

paris parfait January 30, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

It does all look better in black and white. When Jordana and I were there in July, the Muni did the same thing - knocked everybody off at Civic Center and we raced through that bad area. As for the film, I'm a fan too! Enjoy!

Brook January 30, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

I love this movie! Watched it not that long ago as a matter of fact. And even when he is a devil, Burt Lancaster is hot hot hot in B&W. Name of the Rose is my particular fav in that regard!

Char January 30, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

guerilla photography can be so much fun! great shots...I would love to see some of the film noir classics.

Just Jules January 30, 2009 at 3:07 PM  

It's all how we look at it sometimes isn't it. Happy movie going.

julochka January 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM  

note to self: check out more of own photos in b&w presets...and thereby become more moody and mysterious as a person. right? :-)

Blue Sky Dreaming January 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

Saturday afternoons, my sister and I would watch these movies and for the rest of the week live in the shadow of these characters and their dialogue...such wonder.
Tenderloin, little eye contact, watch your step and keep moving...your photos are wonderful!

Nancy Ewart January 30, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

Fabulous photos - you have an amazing eye! I've often thought that the Tenderloin would look good if photographed in black and white. It's one of the few areas that hasn't had it's personality redeveloped out of it.
Sweet Smell of Success - what a movie. I remember when I first say it and was astonished to realized that Tony Curtis could act. On the other hand, he played a jerk and I think that's maybe not such a stretch for him. Lancaster was the man, then, now and always!

iasa January 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM  

I want to go to the festival! Wah!

I love these photographs. They are sublime as always.

Yoli January 30, 2009 at 8:44 PM  

God woman you are so freaking talented!

I think we have been separated at birth. Your love of film noir and Errol confirms it.

will January 30, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

Burt is a lizard. The movie is distillation, intensifying aspects of the darker psyche. Beware the Ides of March, the Greeks said. The spawn of corruption sweeps through the ages.

I too love love the dirty town. Bless it's oddest and uniqueness.

Cynthia Pittmann January 30, 2009 at 10:42 PM  

Was it your morning mood that made you capture such rich images...I do hope the plague passes us all by...but how will we know? That body-board poster was particularly impacting. Enjoy the film festival!

Anonymous January 31, 2009 at 10:46 AM  

Nothing like B/W to beautify the gritty. Great shots TB!

The Pink Cowboy January 31, 2009 at 6:49 PM  

I just finished watching Sweet Smell of Success on TMC. I never saw it before, so intense...that JJ character played by Burt Lancaster is so despicable (I can hear Daffy Duck saying it: Dezthpicable!)it made my blood boil. Great film with incredible dialogues. Tony Curtis was so handsome back them, I must add.

Marianne January 31, 2009 at 7:50 PM  

Fantastic photos!! I love "see the beauty" - worth many thousand words.