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Noir City: the best books behind the great noir films

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(Read caption) Patricia Highsmith's novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is "far more chilling" than even the excellent 1999 movie version, insist some noir aficionados.

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A few years ago, the emcee of San Francisco's Noir City – the largest film noir festival in the country – apologized for the weather in front of an audience of hundreds.

Had it started to rain? Nope. It had just stopped pouring outside of the Castro Theatre movie palace. And that might have been enough to ruin the mood. But it was still suitably gloomy and cold outside in the night. And, of course, on the screen inside.

Film noir refers to the seductively shadowy crime movies of the 1940s and 1950s and their progeny that darken big and small screens to this day. Every January, Noir City draws thousands of fans to watch mostly obscure movies starring icons like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. (The festival plays well-known movies too, but focuses on undiscovered and forgotten films.)

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