Now Playing! San Francisco ‘Crime’ at the Victoria and French Crime at the Roxie

The band Crime on Alcatraz.

We’re taking a ride in the wayback machine this week, starting with a blast from the Mabuhay Gardens’ past. Dozens of local punk and rock bands played the North Beach club in the ’70s and ’80s, but only Crime had a member (drummer Henry Rosenthal a.k.a. Hank Rank) with the foresight to painstakingly preserve performance footage—shot on 16mm in 1978 for Larry Larson’s cable access show In Review—of his band.

Rosenthal went on to become the Bay Area’s preeminent independent film producer, so he knows something about years-in-gestation movie projects. At long last, he and director-editor Jon Bastian have turned that raw vintage celluloid into Crime 1978, a document of the times that packs 11 Crime songs and Dirk Dirksen, the late Mabuhay booker and caustic emcee, into 35 minutes.

To tout the DVD and vinyl soundtrack releases, Crime 1978 screens Nov. 14 at the Victoria Theatre. The movie is the centerpiece of a rock variety show, with Rosenthal and Bastian regaling the crowd with anecdotes and original Crime bassist Ron “The Ripper” Greco playing a couple numbers. Oh yeah, the bill also includes another ’70s concert film, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Cops Vs. Aliens: An Evening of Rock ’n’ Roll Film kicks out the jams at 7pm.

Still from 'Crime 1978,'  Ginger Coyote and a fan.
Still from 'Crime 1978,' Ginger Coyote and a fan. (Courtesy of the filmmakers)

Going even further back, Don Malcolm’s vast, multi-part excavation of postwar French noir, neo-noir and second-cousin-by-marriage noir has finally run out of Renault-wrecked road. The French had a Name for It 6: The Sixties and the End of the Line packs five days with 15 flicks filled with Gitanes and slick suits, and more than a little sunbathing.

Malcolm’s selections remind us, more than anything, that the French film industry wasn’t totally transformed overnight by the Nouvelle Vague successes of Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard (who is represented here with 1963’s Le Petit Soldat). The retrospective includes several mainstream films that are traditional in form and structure, even if they adopted New Wave markers like location shooting and young stars with devil-may-care attitudes.

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The series opener, La Corde Raide (Lovers on a Tightrope, 1960) toplines Annie Girardot just a few months before her international breakthrough in Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers. She’s married to an affluent businessman but in love with a hunky mechanic who, wouldn’t you know it, has an ulterior motive. Incidentally, what was the last movie you saw in which the female lead broke a heel running on the sidewalk?

Still from 'Objectif: 500 Millions,' 1966, with Bruno Cremer and Marisa Mell, directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer.
Still from 'Objectif: 500 Millions,' 1966, with Bruno Cremer and Marisa Mell, directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer.

Melodie en Sous-Sol (Any Number Can Win, 1963) casts another next-generation star, Alain Delon, opposite French monument Jean Gabin to enjoyable though curious effect. The stars only have a couple scenes together through the film’s first hour; it’s almost like they’re in different movies for different audiences. Yet the pairing of the calm, cool icon with the jittery rebel without a cause fits the movie’s underlying theme, namely the inevitably of change that accompanies the passage of time.

A fresh-out-the-slammer thief (Gabin) needing one last big score to retire to Canberra (!) enlists a former cellmate (Delon) in a plan to rip off a Cannes casino. Savor the rear-screen projection of Delon driving a sports car along the Riviera with his sunglasses on, smiling at everyone, and every other delicious moment in this stylish soufflé.

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