Saturday, May 26, 2018

The 2018 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival: Sunday

All too soon it was Sunday, the final day of this year's Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival! Our fun weekend absolutely flew by.

There are only three films shown on Sunday, with the final 4:00 p.m. screening making it easy for those of us in driving distance to make it back home at a reasonable hour. First, though, a day of great viewing!

The morning kicked off with another not-on-DVD film I'd never seen, UNDER THE GUN (1951), a prison film starring noir favorites Richard Conte and Audrey Totter, with good support from Shepperd Strudwick and John McIntire. The introduction was provided by Foster Hirsch, who once again provided notable things to be watching for in the film, such as the glimpses of freedom in the background of the shots filmed at the prison camp.

UNDER THE GUN was an interesting film, though not one of my favorites of the festival, as prison movies don't do that much for me. Still, I really enjoyed the cast and the unique look of the location shooting in Florida. Look for a separate review of this film here in the near future. (Update: Here it is!)

Next up was a real treat, my first chance to see an all-time favorite film noir, KISS OF DEATH (1947), on a big screen, starring Victor Mature and Coleen Gray.

In the time since I last saw the movie I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Coleen and later had the honor of attending her memorial service. I've also had the chance to meet Victor Mature's lovely daughter Victoria, so watching the movie at the festival felt even more personal and special for me, all the more so as Victoria was there with us to view the movie and speak about her father.

Victoria, wearing a dress her mother wore on one of her first dates with her father, shared memories of the father she knew, who by then was retired and spent time driving his daughter to school and enjoying the golf course. She also brought a wonderful clip reel of her dad fighting lions, dancing, and doing other fun stuff in some of his movies!

Victoria is an opera singer -- in fact, she graduated from our youngest son's university, UC San Diego -- and shared that she had found sheet music with lyrics for Alfred Newman's "Street Scene," music which is heard at the conclusion of KISS OF DEATH as well as in several other Fox film noir classics, including her father's CRY OF THE CITY (1948). The audience enjoyed an impromptu performance of Victoria singing "Street Scene," another festival highlight for me.


The day's final film was a Library of Congress print of FLAMINGO ROAD (1949), starring Joan Crawford, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott, and David Brian. Unusually for the festival, this print was on the dark side and broke once, but was happily repaired so we could continue watching; although the print was sub-par, it was no less enjoyable! It was my first time to see the film, and I enjoyed it tremendously; it's a top-drawer Crawford soap opera. I hope one day to see the nitrate print which screened at UCLA in February!

This was the fifth film of the festival which was a first-time watch for me; it was a wonderful opportunity seeing so many great films for the first time in a theater. Be on the lookout for a review of FLAMINGO ROAD here in the near future.

I can't say enough good things about the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival; I intend to return for the festival's 20th anniversary in 2019, and I hope to see more of my readers there next year!

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