On Wednesday, March 28, the Secret Cinema will bring its 16mm film projectors for the first time to The Trestle Inn, the new and buzz-worthy “Whiskey and Go Go” nightspot in Philadelphia’s emerging “loft district.” On that night, we’ll present GIRL ON THE RUN, a 1953 ultra-low budget, noirish crime film set in the tawdry world of a carnival burlesque show. The program will also include selected short subjects, including some vintage girlie films.
There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00,
As always with Secret Cinema events, the films will be shown using 16mm film (not video) projected on a giant screen.
The Trestle Inn presents a mash up of retro entertainment, music, food and drink. Expect to find Barbarella-clad Go Go dancers swinging to French pop, blue-eyed soul, psychobilly, funk, garage and disco on most nights of the week.
A complete description of the feature follows…
GIRL ON THE RUN (1953, Dir: Joseph Lee and Arthur J. Beckhard)
This ultra-low budget independent production drops a standard crime melodrama into the noirish, tawdry world of a carnival burlesque show. This soon-to-vanish world was seemingly captured on film largely on location, which is also where much of the cast was evidently found (the credits list six women as simply “the Carny Girls”). The minimal plot concerns a reporter visiting the midway to uncover the facts of the murder of his editor; simultaneously hiding from the law, he is also the primary suspect. In between expected dance routines and some nasty exchanges between a corrupt cop and the carnival’s hard-boiled midget owner, there are some surreal plot twists. But the technical qualities of GIRL ON THE RUN offer perhaps the most unexpected pleasures on display (the Carny Girls’ ample bodies notwithstanding) — the often striking black and white cinematography features extreme close-ups, dramatic lighting and sometimes surprising compositions. The low-angled shots in a boxing scene resemble an earlier, cruder RAGING BULL.
Some of the makers of GIRL ON THE RUN had substantial Hollywood resumes. Supervising editor Sidney Katz won an A.C.E. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 (the year he died). Producer Robert Presnell, Sr. wrote and produced classics and programmers alike for major studios. While little is known about Joseph Lee, co-director (and co-writer) Arthur J. Beckhard had a fascinating career. In the 1930s he wrote a couple of Shirley Temple vehicles, and for many years was a successful producer and director of Broadway plays. Late in life he authored biographies of Einstein, Eisenhower, Tesla, and William D. Beckhard, a pioneering surgeon who was addicted to drugs throughout his life.
The most notable cast member of GIRL ON THE RUN has one of the smallest roles: Steve McQueen, seen in the background of two scenes during his first known film role.