This June, the IFI will present a Killer Couples season, running from Wednesday 6th to Saturday 30th. The season will include a selection of classic films, including a screening of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers on 35mm.
Lawless and loved-up, couples on the run have inspired some of the finest road films ever made, providing the basis for the entire genre of film noir. The purpose of the season is not to glamorise these couples or their actions, as each of them ultimately faces consequences, but to provide a snapshot view of both the artist’s and the audience’s never-ending fascination with those two great totems of life, sex and death.
The mixture of love and crime has proved fertile ground for filmmakers throughout the history of cinema, resulting in any number of absolute classics. The enduring and continuing popularity of such material is examined in this season of work centred on couples either willingly participating or at the very least proving complicit in that most heinous of crimes, the act of murder.
Kevin Coyne, Cinema Programmer – IFI
The season kicks off on Wednesday 6th with Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, the film considered to have set the template for film noir. The film stars Fred MacMurray as insurance salesman Walter Neff, who begins an affair with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), the wife of one of his clients. When her questions lead him to believe that she is considering murdering her husband, he resists at first, before becoming a willing collaborator.
Fans of 35mm film will rejoice that two films in the season are screening in this format: Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, arguably the most infamous film featuring a killer couple, and Leonard Kastle’s The Honeymoon Killers, in which Tony Lo Bianco plays a swindler who uses the lonely hearts columns to prey on women by promising love and marriage.
Other films in the season include Gun Crazy with a screenplay by the then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, featuring a young man who meets and marries carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr, played by the late Irish actress Peggy Cummins. Pretty Poison is a jet-black comedy starring Anthony Perkins as a man recently released from a mental institution, in thrall to a murderous teenager, played by Tuesday Weld.
Lift to the Scaffold, Louis Malle’s début feature is set to a score by the legendary Miles Davis. Florence (Jeanne Moreau) and Julien (Maurice Ronet) are lovers intent on killing her husband, who also happens to be his boss; Richard Fleischer’s Compulsion, based on the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb case, stars Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman as an egotistical pair who murder a boy simply for the thrill; and Sam Peckinpah’s classic The Getaway stars Steve McQueen as Texas inmate ‘Doc’ McCoy, who persuades his wife (Ali McGraw) to use her wiles on a corrupt and influential businessman in order to secure his release.
Closing the season will be a screening of Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, based on real events and starring Kate Winslet as Juliet Hulme and Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker in their screen débuts. Both outsiders, the two form an obsessive bond, their desperation to be together eventually leading to murder.
Tickets for the Killer Couples screenings are now on sale from www.ifi.ie and from the IFI Box Office at 01-6793477.
KILLER COUPLES SCHEDULE
Wed 6th (18.20): Double Indemnity
Sun 10th (15.45): Compulsion
Wed 13th (18.20): The Getaway
Sun 17th (15.30): Lift to the Scaffold
Wed 20th (18.30): Pretty Poison
Sat 23rd (15.30): The Honeymoon Killers
Sun 24th (15.30): Natural Born Killers
Thurs 28th (18.30): Gun Crazy
Sat 30th (18.20): Heavenly Creatures