Arts & Entertainment

Union Station is the star in a new film noir screening series

An image of Union Station taken in 2011.
An image of Union Station taken in 2011.
Frederick Dennstedt via Flickr Creative Commons

Greed, lust, gorgeous black-and-white images and the growing realization you can never win a game that's always been rigged — these are the hallmarks of film noir. Los Angeles has served as the backdrop for some of the most celebrated entrants in the fatalistic film genre.

Three of these movies will be on display at the newly announced Film Noir at Union Station. As part of the screening series, movies that feature the iconic train station onscreen will be screened at Union Station itself.

The films will be screened on the first Friday of October, November and December. Admission is free and each event should accommodate approximately 400 people. Screenings will be held in the grand ticket hall to the left of the entrance, where passengers used to queue up when people commonly traveled by train.

"Union Station, in addition to its value to Los Angeles as a great historical destination and entwined with the history since 1939, it's very rooted in film noir," says writer and film historian Alan Rode. As treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation, he curated the series and will introduce each film.

Film noir as a genre became popular in the U.S. during the post-WWII era. "One of the precepts of film noir," Rode says, "is that in the opening 10 or 15 minutes, the lead protagonist gets screwed over. It all goes downhill from there."

The series kicks off on October 2 with a screening of "Union Station," a 1950 movie that was set in Chicago but filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles. L.A.'s Union Station and Vernon stockyards stood in for Chicago locales.

"Criss Cross," on November 4, stars Burt Lancaster as a working stiff who rekindles an affair with his ex-wife and ends up participating in a robbery with her gangster husband. In addition to several Union Station sequences, you'll also spot Bunker Hill, Angel's Flight and other downtown L.A. locales in the movie.

Union Station isn't just a location in "Too Late For Tears," a lost movie that was only recently restored, it's a major plot element. Rode doesn't want to give too much away, so you'll have to see for yourself on December 2.

"When I moved to L.A. about 15 years ago from San Diego," Rode says, "one of the first places I went is Union Station because of all these movies that I'd written about and been obsessed about. So many of them have Union Station as a plot point and so much footage has been shot there. I think it's going to be more than just a screening of a movie, it's going to be an event."