Monday, May 13, 2019

The 2019 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Review

The 20th Anniversary edition of the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival was a grand long weekend in Palm Springs!


It was my fourth time to attend the festival, one of the weekends I've come to look forward to most each year. The combination of great movies, congenial hosts and guests, and the relaxing Palm Springs setting make for a terrific "movie vacation."


The festival's 20th anniversary was celebrated in front of the theater Thursday evening, May 9th. Here's the wonderfully designed cake!


Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon (left) and festival producer/host Alan K. Rode listen as Palm Springs Cultural Center Director Michael C. Green speaks during the anniversary celebration prior to the first film. A champagne toast was also part of the ceremony.


Eddie Muller's schedule prevented him from attending this year, but Victoria Mature, a guest at last year's festival, made her debut as a festival host, introducing three of the films. Here she is on opening night:


The festival's third host is the wonderful Foster Hirsch, author of THE DARK SIDE OF THE SCREEN and other books. I always love his insights and enthusiasm.


On opening night I was especially excited to meet actress Kathy Garver, best known for playing Cissy on FAMILY AFFAIR (1966-71). I purchased her 2015 book SURVIVING CISSY: MY FAMILY AFFAIR OF LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD, which she signed for me.


Kathy also recently spoke at this year's Noir City Film Festival, which I'll be covering in an upcoming post, and she's a delightful lady!

I also had a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow guest Ron Oliver, director of numerous Hallmark films, and tell him how much I recently enjoyed his film LOVE AT THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE (2012).


I shared information about the Arthur Lyons Festival's schedule last month; here are a couple photos from the program to provide a quick visual rundown of the dozen films shown over the weekend. The movies were screened in both digital and 35mm formats.


Click any photo to enlarge it for a closer look.


The opening night film was THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955), introduced by Alan Rode.


I first saw THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER in 2011. I was glad to take another look at the movie at the festival, as I feel I got more out of a second viewing; I found the "Hansel and Gretel" type story terribly scary the first time I saw it -- I don't do children in danger well, and Robert Mitchum is all too effective as an evil man -- so it helped that I knew what to expect and wasn't quite so worried this time around. That allowed me to relax and focus on enjoying the film, including the wonderful performance by Lillian Gish and the photography of Stanley Cortez.


Kathy Garver was eight when she appeared in the movie; she played the youngest of the trio of abandoned girls taken in by Rachel Cooper (Gish) before the arrival of John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce). Garver also doubled the younger Sally Jane in the chase and boat scenes, as it was harder for Sally Jane to do the more strenuous moments.


Kathy had some vivid memories of the experience which she shared in an interview with Alan Rode, including auditioning for director Charles Laughton; he asked her to run, and then after that asked her to run as if she were a younger child. She persuaded him she could convincingly double for Sally Jane and thus won her roles. She remembered Lillian Gish as a lovely person who paid to put out a spread of cold cuts and cheese for the company from her own funds.


NIGHT OF THE HUNTER star Robert Mitchum's niece Cynthia, daughter of John Mitchum, was on hand in the audience for the screening.

During the festival I provided extensive Twitter coverage using the hashtag #ArthurLyonsFilmNoirFestival. Please check out the hashtag for photos and coverage of the festival as it unfolded.

I can't recommend the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival highly enough, and I encourage anyone who's been considering attending to make plans for 2020! I'll be sharing more about this year's festival spread over the next week or two, including reviews of four new-to-me films along with overviews of each day's screenings.


I'll also have a photo post up soon on our visit to Forest Lawn Cathedral City, the final resting place of Jane Wyman, Alice Faye, and more well-known entertainers.

As usual, I'll be adding each link for this year's coverage below so that all of my festival coverage may be easily found in one place.

Additional Festival Posts: Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival Opens in Palm Springs on May 9th; The 2019 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival: Friday. [More posts coming soon!]

Related Post: A Visit to Forest Lawn Cathedral City.

Previously: The 2015 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Review; The 2017 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Review; The 2018 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Review.

Sincere thanks to Alan K. Rode and the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival for providing an All Access Pass to help facilitate my festival coverage.

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