Friday, May 17, 2019

The 2019 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival: Friday

The wonderful opening night of the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival was just the beginning of a terrific weekend enjoying movies in the desert.

On Friday we started our day with our favorite breakfast stop in Palm Springs, Elmer's, then headed to the Palm Springs Cultural Center at the Camelot Theatres for the 10:00 a.m. film, SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT (1946).

I'd previously seen SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT on DVD and reviewed it in 2011; what a treat to see it again on a big screen in 35mm!

SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT features the classic '40s film noir amnesia trope, as veteran John Hodiak tries to piece together his past. Richard Conte, Lloyd Nolan, and Nancy Guild costar, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. This was the first of a pair of Mankiewicz films screened at this year's festival, the second being FIVE FINGERS (1952) later in the day.

SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT was introduced by Foster Hirsch (at right), and I got a kick out of the fact that he mentioned Nolan's first scene in a Chinese restaurant, which I had spent time discussing in my 2011 review; particularly compared to Guild's weirdly memorable yet unbelievable performance as the leading lady, Nolan gives a master acting class in how to very naturally and personably handle exposition while engaging in entertaining bits of business.

Next up was a brand-new 35mm print of a little-known film directed by Michael Curtiz, THE SCARLET HOUR (1956). I thoroughly enjoyed this twisted tale of love, robbery, and murder, with lesser-known leads Carol Ohmart and Tom Tryon supported by a great cast of faces including James Gregory, Elaine Stritch, E.G. Marshall, Edward Binns, David Lewis, and even Nat King Cole singing a song in a nightclub!

THE SCARLET HOUR was introduced by Alan Rode (left), who of course has written a wonderful biography of Curtiz; like Mankiewicz, Curtiz was represented by more than one film at this year's festival, with the other movie being the Saturday night screening of KING CREOLE (1958).

I had missed out on a couple of opportunities to see THE SCARLET HOUR in the L.A. area last year so I was very happy to finally catch up with it. I'll have a separate review posted here soon. Let's hope for a future DVD release!

Later in the day I revisited two more films, starting with FIVE FINGERS (1952), which I hadn't seen for nearly a decade. This Mankiewicz-directed WWII spy film stars James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, and Michael Rennie.

Victoria Mature did the honors providing background on the film prior to the screening. I hadn't remembered a great deal about the movie other than that I had liked it, and I very much enjoyed a fresh look.

Friday wrapped up with ALL MY SONS (1948), which I had previously seen at the 2016 Noir City Hollywood Festival. It's not a favorite film, as the story is sad and I find leading lady Louisa Horton quite bland, but it's involving and was worth a second viewing. Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster are both excellent.

Following the film Alan Rode interviewed Lancaster's daughter Joanna about her father's career and life growing up as a Lancaster. Joanna, whose career has included both producing and teaching, said growing up as one of five children in the Lancaster home included some animated dinner table discussions.

One of the amusing stories she told was that her father took his role in THE SWIMMER (1968) after asking teenaged Joanna's opinion of the story, and that everyone in the family then had to learn to swim!

All of the weekend's interviews were filmed and I anticipate will later be available at the Film Noir Foundation website, as has been the case with past festival interviews.

Coming soon: A review of THE SCARLET HOUR and a look at Saturday's screenings.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

A fantastic first day at this great-sounding festival, Laura!
You might be interested to hear that my wife and I saw the London stage production at The Old Vic this past week of "ALL MY SONS" starring Bill Pullman and Sally Field with Colin Morgan in the Lancaster role and Jenna Coleman in the Horton role. Sensational production and an acting master-class. The four leads were uniformly superb.
They certainly go through the wringer emotionally (and then have to do it all again the next night!!!).

2:52 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hale said...

Thanks for these posts, Laura. I was a first-time attendee at the Arthur Lyons and thoroughly enjoyed it. Already plotting how I can get back to it.

6:28 PM  

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