Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival at Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs
Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival
October 21, 2021 – October 24, 2021
Camelot Theatre at Palm Springs Cultural Center
2300 E Baristo Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262 United States + Google Map
Founded in 2000 by the late mystery author and Palm Springs community leader Arthur Lyons, this unique festival features an eclectic mixture of landmark and obscure vintage movies from the classic film noir era. Laden with period post-war cynicism, these glorious black and white films are laden with suspense, sexuality and crime portrayed from the perspective of the criminals. Each year, the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival showcases the best of film noir accentuated by an array of movie stars or their family members who appear on stage for post screening Q&A discussions.
Short Film Descriptions With Times
Thursday October 21: 7:30 PM
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950) Disney-Fox, 95 min. Dana Andrews gives one of his most memorable performances as a troubled New York police detective whose heavy handedness jeopardizes both his career and the woman (Gene Tierney) he loves. Ben Hecht’s crackling script, based on the novel Night Cry by Victor Trivas, is the foundation for a much darker reunion of Andrews, Tierney, director of photography Joseph La Shelle and director Otto Preminger from Laurasix years earlier.
Scheduled special guest: Susan Andrews, daughter of Dana Andrews.
Friday October 22
10:00 AM: NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948) Universal; 81 min. Edward G. Robinson stars as a phony carnival mentalist who suddenly becomes imbued with the ability to actually predict the future – and he foresees a horrific fate for his best friend’s daughter. Barre Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer’s seamless adaptation of Cornell Woolrich’s novel is faultlessly directed by John Farrow (The Big Clock, Alias Nick Beal, As Danger Lives, His Kind of Woman) who was at his best with noir. Costarring Gail Russell and John Lund, with superbly shaded camerawork by John F. Seitz. Watch for Angels Flight in L. A’s Bunker Hill!
1:00 PM: THE BIG SLEEP (1946) WB, 116 min. Director Howard Hawks helmed the ultimate screen pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in this classic rendition of Raymond Chandler’s famed novel as adapted for the screen by William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett. Don’t try to figure out the plot—just savor Bogie as private eye Philip Marlowe who fends off amorous dames (Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone) while taking on gangsters and gunsels (John Ridgely and Bob Steele) and finding his true north with Bacall whom he married after the film originally wrapped and shot retakes with later as man and wife. Memorable score by the great Max Steiner.
Introduction with author Steven C. Smith, Music by Max Steiner, The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer.
4:00 PM: EL VAMPIRO NEGRO (The Black Vampire) (1953), 90 min., subtitled. Not on streaming, DVD or Blu ray. This rediscovered Argentinian film is a pro-feminist version of Fritz Lang’s M that was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive with funding by the Film Noir Foundation in 2014. Filmed on location in the streets and sewers of Bueno Aires by director Román Viñoly Barreto, this haunting film stars Olga Zubarry as a heroic cabaret singer attempting to save her child from the clutches of a pedophile murderer (memorably played by comic actor Nathán Pinzón) while resisting the advances of a dedicated, but troubled prosecutor (Roberto Escalada). Beautifully written, filmed and scored; a memorable cinematic experience!
7:00 PM QUAI DES ORVERES (Jenny Lamour) (1947) Janus Films, 106 min. subtitled. Director/writer Henri Georges Clouzot (Le Corbeau, The Wages of Fear, Diabolique) reclaimed his reputation and won the Best Director Prize at the Venice Film Festival with one of France’s most enduringly popular films. Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is a flirtatious music hall entertainer who persuades a wealthy, horndog patron Brignon (Charles Dullin) to fund her career, driving her devoted and jealous husband Maurice (Bernard Blier) round the bend. When Brignon turns up dead, Maurice looks like the culprit as crusty Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) investigates. A memorable look at the post World War II Parisian dance hall world amidst a darkly poignant story.
Saturday October 23
10:00 am: THE CRUEL TOWER (1956) Allied Artists/Paramount, 79 min.
Not on Streaming, DVD or Blu Ray. In the finest tradition of Arthur Lyons, here is a lurid, noir-stained melodrama directed by Poverty Row auteur Lew Landers. A singularly dyspeptic Charles McGraw honchos a group of steeplejacks (Alan Hale Jr., Steve Brodie and Peter Whitney) who are thrown off kilter by an iterant drifter (John Ericson) and the statuesque Mari Blanchard. Murder, lust, rivalry and overlapping double crosses churn through this campy, low budget film like a high speed blender!
11:30 am: Book Signing with Eddie Muller (Dark City, revised & expanded edition), Steven Smith (Max Steiner the Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer) and Alan K. Rode (Michael Curtiz A Life in Film revised and expanded paperback edition).
1:00 pm: ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938) Warner Bros. 97 min.
Long missing from theaters and television, this proto-noir classic that consecrated James Cagney as Hollywood’s most timeless gangster makes its return to the big screen. As Rocky Sullivan, Cagney travels the well-worn cinematic path from reform school to gangsterism and state prison. He returns to his old NYC neighborhood to meet up with his boyhood pal who is now a priest (Pat O’Brien), the girl he used to tease (Ann Sheridan) and a group of young hoodlums (the Dead End Kids) who idolize him. When Rocky’s crooked lawyer (Humphrey Bogart) and crime boss Mac Keefer (George Bancroft) attempt to double cross him and O’Brien launches a reform campaign, the sparks start flying! Memorable direction by Michael Curtiz with a rousing score by Max Steiner.
4:00 pm: HIGH WALL (1947) MGM/Warner Bros., 99 min, 35mm. Brain-damaged veteran Robert Taylor confesses to murdering his unfaithful wife and is committed to a state sanitarium. While undergoing treatment, his doctor (Audrey Totter) begins to believe he may not be guilty of the crime. Director Curtis Bernhardt elicits one of Taylor’s best screen performances by using a post WWII film noir trope of combat induced amnesia as a central plot point. With: Herbert Marshall, Dorothy Patrick and H.B. Warner. Watch for a gem of a bit part by Frank Jenks.
7:00 pm: VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955) Disney-Fox, 90 min. Color, CinemaScope. Three hoods (a Benzedrine inhaling Lee Marvin, J. Carrol Naish and Stephen McNally) plan a weekend robbery of a bank in small Southwestern mining town that turns out to be film noir’s version of Peyton Place. The mine manager (Victor Mature) tries to have his son not to be ashamed of him, the librarian (Sylvia Sydney) becomes a thief, a bank manager (Tommy Noonan) enjoys nocturnal window peeping while a man (Richard Egan) wants his wife (Margaret Hayes) to stop fooling around with a golf pro (Brad Dexter). Add in Ernest Borgnine as an Amish farmer who encounters the robbers and you’ve got one hell of a weekend! Expertly directed by Richard Fleischer on location in Bisbee and Tucson, Arizona. Adapted from William Heath’s novel.
Scheduled special guest, producer Mark Fleischer, son of director Richard Fleischer.
Sunday October 24
10:00 am: Not on Streaming, DVD or Blu Ray. PLAYGIRL (1954) Universal, 85 min. A New York chanteuse (Shelley Winters) attempts to wise up her corn-fed friend (Coleen Miller) to the realities of city life but matters quickly spiral out of control. Shelley’s neighbor (Gregg Palmer) works for a scandal rag and her playboy friend (Richard Long) is little more than a pimp. Meanwhile, Winters warbles on the bandstand between trysts with her married boyfriend (Barry Sullivan). This lurid Joe Pevney-helmed melodrama was vaulted for over half a century. Don’t miss an unbound Shelley!
1:00 pm: THE LONG HAUL (1957), Sony-Columbia, 100 min. Harry Miller (Victor Mature), an American GI married to a British war bride (Gene Anderson), signs on as a long-haul lorry driver and finds the business rife with corruption, especially with gangster Joe Easy (Patrick Allen) running the show. When Easy’s girl Lynn (Diana Dors) takes a shine to Harry, his sturdy moral fiber is stretched every which way but loose. A well-wrought British version of Hollywood trucking noirs like THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT and THIEVES’ HIGHWAY, this film satisfies the craving of noir addicts with its underworld misfits, shadowy atmospherics and the voluptuous Dors doing all she can to screw up Mature’s marriage. With a thrilling climax reminiscent of SORCERER!
Introduction with Victoria Mature, daughter of Victor Mature.
4:00 PM: THE RECKLESS MOMENT (1949) Paramount, 82 min.
California matron Joan Bennett takes charge of her Balboa beachside household with hubby out of town, but can’t convince her smitten daughter (Geraldine Brooks) to dump her rake of a boyfriend (Sheppard Strudwick). After events spiral out of control, Bennett struggles to cover up an accidental homicide as a stranger (James Mason) arrives with incriminating evidence. Max Ophuls masterfully sequences a myriad of emotions, characterizations and plot points into a stone masterpiece of a film noir. Not to be missed!