Budapest Noir


Budapest, 1936. Zsigmond Gordon is a crime reporter cut from classic film noir cloth. He takes a cynical view of politics, including the sudden death of the Hungarian prime minister, whose fondness for Adolph Hitler has inspired Hungary's fascists. It's a chance meeting with an alluring woman, however, that really triggers Gordon's curiosity, especially when she later turns up murdered, a Jewish prayer her only possession. Sniffing a human interest story (he's more ambitious than altruistic), Gordon sets out to learn her identity and transform her death from back-page filler to front-page news.

Adapted by Éva Gárdos and András Szekér from the popular Hungarian bestseller by Vilmos Kondor, Budapest Noir exploits the echoes of classic hardboiled detective fiction to probe the specifics of Hungarian national identity and tells a timeless tale of soul corruption. Visually, the film is sumptuous and shadowy. The stunning cinematography of Elemer Ragalyi (1945, SFJFF 2017) revels in the old world elegance of Buda and the oppressive squalor of Pest, weaving from the sinfully decadent salons of high society through the shameful misery of homeless encampments. Éva Gárdos (American Rhapsody, 2001) directs with a deft hand and a supple control that seamlessly blends traditional noir tropes into a politically charged period piece with a contemporary resonance that can't be missed.  -Eddie Muller

Presented in partnership with the Film Noir Foundation

Director Éva Gárdos in conversation with Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller in San Francisco

Éva Gárdos is an award-winning film director and editor born in Hungary who began her professional career as a teacher in New York City's toughest schools. "The kids in Harlem were my first influence," says Gardos. "They teach you a lot about life." Francis Ford Coppola gave Gardos her first job in movies, working as a production assistant on Coppola's epic Apocalypse Now in the Philippines. Éva's screenwriting and feature film directorial debut, American Rhapsody, starred a young Scarlett Johansson. After discovering the bestselling Hungarian novel, Budapest Noir, she returned to Hungary to develop and direct the film version, "The minute I finished the novel, which I read in English, I was determined to make this film."

As founder and president of the non-profit Film Noir Foundation, Eddie Muller has been instrumental in preserving America's noir heritage through the FNF's NOIR CITY film festivals. San Francisco's NOIR CITY is the largest retrospective of noir films in the world. Eddie also programs and hosts his own weekly TCM program Noir Alley.

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