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Arts & Culture

Looking For Noir In San Diego

Poster for the Noir City film festival in San Francisco.
Poster for the Noir City film festival in San Francisco.

Can a sunny locale play host to some of the darkest forms of art? Sure can. Just ask Los Angeles, whose shadows have long fascinated writers of all types. It's inspired many of the world's most well-known crime novels and movies, including several classics of the noir genre.

What about San Diego? We've got our share of shadows too. But our history in the world of noir -- at least the fictional one -- is pretty brief. In the chronicles of noir, we're no L.A. or New York or San Francisco.

Maybe you can help change that.


This weekend, I'm heading to the annual Noir City film festival in San Francisco, the largest celebration of film noir in the country. I'll join hundreds of others at the grand Castro Theater to enjoy the best crime films that the darkest minds of mid-century Hollywood could create. And I'll be thinking of locales back in San Diego that would be perfect for a film noir.

Which remote corners of Balboa Park ooze with menace when the sun goes down? If a scorned woman walks into the ocean to never return like Joan Crawford in "Humoresque," where does she do it?If an adulterous couple plans a murder -- think Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" -- where do they plot over drinks and cold blood?

In the comments below, tell me where you'd film a noir movie in San Diego and I'll report back after the festival about my favorite dark and seedy spots in San Diego.

And consider this perspective from Eddie "Czar of Noir" Muller, the emcee of the Noir City festival, who answered a query from me this week: "What's great about San Diego is that it gives the illusion of being a paradise while in fact you're cornered: ocean to the west, a foreign country to the south. If you're trying to get away from something, you're out of running room."