Monday, May 20, 2019

The 2019 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival: Saturday

Our wonderful Friday at the 20th Annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival led to an equally wonderful four-film Saturday!

Saturday morning kicked off with Alan K. Rode introducing the restored 35mm print of TRAPPED (1950) starring Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton, and John Hoyt, directed by Richard Fleischer.

I had just seen this film at the Noir City Hollywood Festival at the end of March, but I was happy to watch it again! It's loads of fun, including alluring Barbara Payton, John Hoyt's rather surprising turn as an FBI hero, and marvelous L.A. location shooting, including a finale set in a Red Car Trolley barn. Recommended!

We never miss the chance to have a French dip sandwich for lunch at Sherman's Deli while we're in town, then it was back to the Camelot Theatres for the 1:00 p.m. movie, CALCUTTA (1947), introduced by Victoria Mature (seen at right). Victoria shared some interesting background information on both the film and the real Calcutta, including its history during WWII. (She donned shades for this intro to help deal with the brightness of the spotlight! Later in the day, in fact, Jan Shepard requested it be turned off so she could see the audience.)

CALCUTTA, which I had been fortunate to also see at the 2017 Noir City Hollywood Festival, was the first of a pair of Alan Ladd films seen at this year's festival; the other was THE GLASS KEY (1942) on Sunday. As I said in my preview of the festival schedule, you can never have too much Alan Ladd! It's been a great year for me to see Ladd on the big screen, including APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER (1951) at Noir City. I was happy to speak with other festival attendees in Palm Springs who were just recently discovering Ladd and liked what they saw!

CALCUTTA costars Gail Russell and William Bendix, directed by John Farrow. Russell plays an atypical role which I really enjoy -- I won't say more, except to watch her eyes if you're not sure she's telling the truth! Fun stuff.

The final two films of the day were completely new to me. Foster Hirsch introduced the heist film ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) and shared information he'd learned from past interviews with Harry Belafonte.

Part of what makes the film interesting is that there is racial animus among the crooks, which makes working together successfully a challenge. Hirsch had discussed with Belafonte that his character was as racist as Robert Ryan's and Belafonte agreed. They're seen here with Ed Begley (Sr.) as the third member of the team.

I was particularly intrigued that Belafonte, who also produced, had hired French cinematographer Joseph C. Brun because he wanted the film to be an outsider's perspective on the U.S., looking more like a European movie. Indeed, the film's look reminded me of the great French heist film RIFIFI (1955). The location shooting was terrific, especially in the small town where the bank was located.

I also enjoyed the score by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Look for a more in-depth review here in the future.

The final film of the day was the new-to-me KING CREOLE (1958), with Elvis Presley supported by Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Paul Stewart, and wonderful Dolores Hart. Jan Shepard, who played Elvis's sister Mimi, attended the screening. Here she is in the theater lobby before the the movie:

The movie, introduced below by Alan K. Rode, was excellent; I was particularly wowed by the evocative music just before and after the opening credits. I'll also be reviewing that film separately in the near future.

The delightful Shepard regaled us with stories of Elvis's sweetness and kindness, helping Marilyn Monroe shop for a house, and much more about the life of a young actress in '50s Hollywood. She seemed to know everyone! It was a joy to listen to her; I'd been unfamiliar with her work, and I'm definitely going to be watching for her other films and TV appearances in the future.

She's seen here at the left in a publicity photo along with Dolores Hart, Elvis, Carolyn Jones, and Liliane Montevecchi.

Watch for the recording of this interview to show up on the Film Noir Foundation website one day in the future.

Coming soon: An overview of the final day of the festival, along with reviews of THE SCARLET HOUR (1956), ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW, and KING CREOLE.


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