Crime films were a staple at Columbia Pictures during the studio’s first decades as a budget-conscious, high-volume producer of mass entertainment. This exhibition traces the evolution of the genre at Columbia, from the atmospheric whodunits that dominated the early 1930s (By Whose Hand?, The Ninth Guest) through the moody, despairing films noirs of the 1940s and 1950s. The series includes both celebrated, A-level productions like Gilda (1946) and The Lady from Shanghai (1948)—both centered on Columbia’s biggest star, Rita Hayworth—and outstanding examples of the B-pictures that were the studio’s real specialty, among them rediscoveries like Blind Spot (1947) and Chinatown at Midnight (1950). A selection of episodes from the haunting Whistler series, each starring Richard Dix as a different figure marked by fate, offers a taste of the many B franchises that kept the studio’s tiny lot humming. All films preserved by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 35mm, except where noted.
Organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, and Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film.