The first time Burt Lancaster appeared on film his face was obscured beneath deep shadows and his body was so still, he could have been playing a corpse. Yet that "faceless" scene from "The Killers" remains an iconic one for Lancaster more than 70 years later to the point it is a requisite part of film noir books and studies.
The 1946 classic from director Robert Siodmak, based on a Ernest Hemingway short story, opens "Noir Essentials: The Ghosts of Film Noir" Aug. 16 at the Dipson Eastern Hills (4545 Transit Road). The monthly movie series, hosted by Charles Dugan, continues through December. Films start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $7 at the box office and via dipsontheatres.com.
Here's the rest of the schedule:
Sept. 20: "The Third Man" (1949). Considered the greatest example of British film noir, the Carol Reed movie set in Vienna features an amusing entrance by Orson Welles as the charismatic thief Harry Lime. Joseph Cotten plays an out-of-place novelist caught in Harry's web.
Oct. 18: "In A Lonely Place" (1950). Humphrey Bogart is a washed-up screenwriter and prime suspect in the murder of a hatcheck girl he only met once. Gloria Grahame plays the woman who tries to help him - and falls for him. Bogart's performance has been called "revelatory and vulnerable."
Nov. 15: "Touch of Evil" (1958). This is a restored cut of the movie directed by and starring Orson Welles. Charlton Heston (in unfortunate dark makeup) plays a Mexican drug enforcement agent investigating a car bombing along the U.S.-Mexico border with a corrupt American police chief (played by Welles).
Dec. 20: "The Night of the Hunter" (1955). Robert Mitchum is terrifying as a serial killer and traveling preacher who targets a widow (Shelley Winters) and her children for $10,000 in hidden money. The tattoos on his knuckles - love and hate - have been referenced in pop culture from "Do the Right Things" to "The Simpsons." The only film directed by Charles Laughton, "Night of the Hunter" also is a chance to see silent screen star Lillian Gish.