Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Review

It was a wonderful weekend "in the dark" at the 22nd Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival!

The festival was held at the Palm Springs Cultural Center from May 12th through 15th.

It was preceded by a benefit concert featuring Victoria Mature on May 11th; I wish I could have been there for that as well, but the short turnaround after our trip to Oregon precluded it. I hope to see her show in the future! As discussed further below, Victoria also introduced her father's film I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) on the 15th.

I've now attended this festival half a dozen times, and it's always a delight. The festival is produced and hosted by Alan K. Rode. He's seen here (below right) with Eddie Muller (left), who was also on hand to introduce some of the films.

Victoria Mature is seen here on opening night admiring an Italian poster for THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948) from the collection of Brian Light (center).

The weekend's very special guest, who was interviewed following the opening night screening of THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, was Leonard Maltin.

Mr. Maltin had a book signing before the screening, and he graciously signed for me not only his two most recent books, but my well-worn copy of THE DISNEY FILMS, which is one of the first film books I ever owned. That was quite a thrill for me!

On Friday I enjoyed THE ARGYLE SECRETS (1948) starring William Gargan and Marjorie Lord, which was just as much fun as at last month's Noir City Hollywood Festival (and I think I understood the plot a little more!); PHANTOM LADY (1944) starring Ella Raines and Franchot Tone; I WALK ALONE (1947) starring Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, and Kirk Douglas; and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, and Vincent Price.

A quartet of highly enjoyable films, and I especially enjoyed revisiting LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, having been to one of its main locations, Sedona, last year.

Below, Eddie Muller introduces PHANTOM LADY:

Saturday morning was the only film of the weekend which was new to me, AMONG THE LIVING (1941), introduced here by Alan Rode. I'll be reviewing this unusual film, which starred Albert Dekker and Susan Hayward, in a separate post.

Later on Saturday I enjoyed revisiting THE GUILTY (1947), featuring Bonita Granville as twins, and Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Orson Welles in the original theatrical version of TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Both were shown in 35mm. THE GUILTY, incidentally, will be out on Blu-ray soon from Flicker Alley.

Another great poster from Brian Light's collection, this time for TOUCH OF EVIL:

I'm not a big fan of TOUCH OF EVIL, but I go back to it every few years, and I felt like I got more out of it this time than in the past. I think it helps that I've come to appreciate Marlene Dietrich much more since I last saw it in 2014. It's a great illustration of the value in periodically revisiting films.

After the film Alan Rode interviewed Louis Race, who worked with Orson Welles and was involved in his film THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (2018).

Sunday morning Eddie Muller introduced MOONRISE (1948), starring Dane Clark and Gail Russell, and said it was one of his favorite films.

I've seen MOONRISE multiple times, but the ending still has the power to have me in tears. It's incredibly moving. And was there ever a more ethereal screen presence than Gail Russell?

Victoria Mature began her introduction of I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) in delightful fashion, humming Alfred Newman's "Street Scene" Theme. The music was used as the main theme for three of her father Victor Mature's films; besides I WAKE UP SCREAMING, the music was also used in KISS OF DEATH (1947) and CRY OF THE CITY (1948).

She spoke of her father's lifelong friendship with costar Betty Grable; he gifted Betty one of his rescue dogs and introduced her to her longtime husband, Harry James. Their firstborn daughter was named...Victoria.

Here's another lovely shot of Victoria from opening night:

The only films I didn't see over the weekend were the Argentinian noir LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (THE BITTER STEMS) (1956), which I've seen multiple times, most recently on Blu-ray earlier this year, and DETECTIVE STORY (1950) with Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker.

I'll also have a post or two up soon on some of the interesting places we visited around Palm Springs. 

As usual, all additional links for this year's coverage will be added below, so that all of my festival-related coverage may be easily found in one place.


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