'MILDRED PIERCE'

The Star Tribune's Taste section celebrates its 40th birthday with a screening of the decadently delicious "Mildred Pierce." Joan Crawford won her Oscar in this 1945 women's picture/film noir/murder mystery as a lower-class divorcee making it on her own. Mildred climbs from pie baking to owning restaurants, but can never win the love of her beautiful, ungrateful daughter. "My mother, a common waitress!" snaps Ann Blyth in a performance that arches its back and spits at you for 90 minutes. The Taste birthday gala also includes a pre-movie performance by organist Harvey Gustafson on the Heights Theater's ribcage-rattling Wurlitzer, a parade of vintage TV food commercials (courtesy of the Mill City Museum) and tons of prizes. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Heights Theater, 3951 Central Av. NE., Columbia Heights. $8 at the door and online at www.heightstheater.com.)

COLIN COVERT

'FRENCH CRIMEWAVE'

The French practically invented romantic fatalism, and they polished it to a near-perfect sheen in underworld thrillers. Tonight, Oak Street Cinema launches its four-decade retrospective called "French Crimewave," with Jean Gabin as a rough-diamond jewel thief in "Pepe le Moko." He's hiding from the French gendarmes in the Casbah in Algiers. Along comes a breathtaking Parisian socialite, and he's tempted to leave his safe haven and follow her. The film is vigorous 1930s moviemaking, with location footage from Algeria mixed with great studio sets. From there, the program unreels an all-star roundup of downward-spiraling crime bosses ("Classe Tous Risques"), ice-cool casino gamblers ("Bob le Flambeur"), aging gangsters pulled back into the life ("Touchez pas le Grisbi"), elegantly plotted jewel heists ("Le Circle Rouge"), tormented killers ("Riptide") and double-crossing police informers ("Le Doulos"). (All films subtitled. "Pepe le Moko" tonight at 7:30, Sat. at 5:15 p.m. and Sun. at 5:15, 7:30 and 9:15 p.m. $5-$7. For the full schedule, visit www.mnfilmarts.org.)

COLIN COVERT