Please join me for the 22nd annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, May 12-15, 2022, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (formerly the Camelot Theaters) 2300 E. Baristo Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262. TICKETS: Film program, all-access passes and individual tickets on sale now!
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 7:00 pm
Victor & Victoria Cabaret
Victoria Mature presents an Evening of Music and Reminiscences. This special multimedia event is a fundraiser for the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival and the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
Thursday May 12, 2022 7:00 pm Opening Night
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949) RKO/WB 95 min. Dir: Nicholas Ray.
Nicholas Ray’s expressive adaptation of Edward Anderson’s 1937 novel Thieves Like Us chronicles the fatalistic saga of a pair of youthful Depression era lovers. Bowie (Farley Granger) breaks jail along with a pair of older, hardened criminals (Jay C. Flippen and Howard Da Silva) and falls in love with the wide-eyed Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell) as the pair strive to craft a new life for themselves while on the run. With innovative camera techniques and an existential sensitivity, Nick Ray’s ground-breaking film debut is the film noir version of Romeo and Juliet.
Introduction with critic and film historian Leonard Maltin. Opening Night reception for festival pass holders and guest after the screening.
Friday May 13, 2022
THE ARGYLE SECRETS (1948) Film Classics 64 min. Dir: Cy Endfield. Adapted from his radio play, Cy Endfield’s forgotten title was restored in 2021 by the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive. Harry Mitchell (William Gargan) is the prototype hard-charging noir reporter eager for a front-page scoop by any means necessary. Getting a hot tip about “The Argyle Album,” a tome detailing a scandalous listing of prominent WWII traitors, Mitchell embarks on a breakneck search for the album while tussling with a bizarre entourage of treasure hunters determined to beat him to the punch. Clearly an inspired parody of The Maltese Falcon, three films worth of plot are shoehorned into a fast-paced 64 minutes amid set-piece scenes and hardboiled dialogue.
PHANTOM LADY (1944) Universal 85 min. Dir: Robert Siodmak. The debut of groundbreaking producer Joan Harrison and the shaded acumen of director Robert Siodmak created one of the most atmospheric mysteries of the classic noir period. Adapted from Cornell Woolrich’s novel of an innocent man (Alan Curtis) who is condemned and waiting for his trip to the death house. His loyal secretary (Ella Raines) risks all to find the mystery woman who can clear her boss with help from his friend (Franchot Tone) and a case-hardened police inspector (Thomas Gomez). Watch for Elisha Cook Jr.’s infamous orgasmic drum solo!
I WALK ALONE (1947) Hal Wallis Prod./Paramount 97 min. Dir: Byron Haskin.
In this first of five films co-starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, the dynamic duo portrays a pair of bootleggers who agree to share and share alike if one of them gets busted. After Burt finishes a 14 year prison stretch, Kirk is set up in the rackets with a swanky nightclub but isn’t inclined to honor their agreement. Complicating matters is an alluring nightclub chanteuse (Lizabeth Scott) and Burt’s old friend (Wendell Corey) who is under Kirk’s thumb. With a colorful supporting cast and a rousing Victor Young score, this hard-boiled melodrama established Wallis’s credentials as an independent producer of consequence after decades of success at Warner Bros.
LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) Fox/Disney 110 min, Technicolor. Dir: John M. Stahl. Gene Tierney’s Academy Award nominated performance and gorgeous Oscar-winning color photography by Leon Shamroy highlight this elegantly crafted psychological thriller about a cold blooded woman’s possessive love for a writer (Cornel Wilde) that ends up destroying those around in and around them. Hollywood’s second biggest box office hit of 1945 was nominated for four Oscars. Co-starring: Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Ray Collins and Darryl Hickman.
Saturday May 14, 2022
AMONG THE LIVING (1941) Paramount/Universal 67 min. D: Stuart Heisler.
The scion of a Southern town’s wealthiest citizen (Albert Dekker) returns home for his father’s funeral and discovers his long dead twin brother alive and imprisoned at the family estate. What follows is a compelling mixture of Southern Gothic, horror and film noir spooled around social commentary concerning mob violence. Co-starring: A young Susan Hayward, Harry Carey and Francis Farmer. A rarity on the big screen in 35mm!
THE GUILTY (1947) Jack Wrather Productions/Monogram Pictures. D; John Reinhardt. Enjoy “B” film noir at its best with this clever adaptation of Cornell Woolrich’s short story “Two Men in a Furnished Room.” Directed by low budget auteur John Reinhardt and co-starring Bonita Granville (in a good/bad sister dual role) and Poverty Row leading man and former Palm Springs hotelier Don Castle. With: Regis Toomey, John Litel and long-time Palm Desert resident Wally Cassell.
LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (The Bitter Stems) (1956) 88 Min, In Spanish with English subtitles Dir: Fernando Ayala. This brilliant film was lauded in its native country upon release, winning Argentina’s Silver Condor Award as the best film of the year before falling into obscurity. In 2016, it was rediscovered and restored by the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. A deep-seated inferiority complex causes a Buenos Aires newspaper reporter (Carlos Cores) to enter into a correspondence-school scam with a clever Hungarian expat (Vassili Lambrinos). As the money rolls in, so do rising suspicions about the Hungarian’s true motives as his partner is driven to commit the perfect crime — with stunning and tragic results. Lauded by American Cinematographer as #49 of the “50 Best Photographed Films of All Time” (by cinematographer Ricardo Younis) and featuring an inventive score by Astor Piazzolla, the greatest Argentine musician of the 20th century.
TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) 111 min, Universal. Mexican cop Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his American wife Susan (Janet Leigh) encounter more than they bargained for when they leave Mexico and enter the border town of Los Robles. Extortion, kidnapping, and murder are par for the course in the corrupt fiefdom of perverse sheriff Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles). Can Vargas uncover a murder frame job and protect his bride from a terrifying gang of criminals? Orson Welles’ return to Hollywood from European exile was the stuff of legend—a crime drama so extraordinarily stylish it looms as a symbolic signpost at the conclusion of the classic noir era. Time and changing tastes have led some critics to laud it as the equal of Welles’ earlier cinematic masterpieces. Note: this is the original theatrical version presented in 35mm.
Sunday May 15, 2022
MOONRISE (1948) 90 min, Republic/Paramount D: Frank Borzage. The renowned directorial romanticist Frank Borzage adapted Theodore Strauss’s novel into an evocative film stained with noir sensibilities in a dreamlike rural setting. Danny Hawkins (Dane Clark in the performance of his career) suffers a traumatic childhood and endures years of abuse in a small town after his father is hanged for murder. His sense of preordained guilt is tragically validated during a moment of rage as he seeks redemption from the woman he loves (Gail Russell) and his friend and fellow outcast (Rex Ingram). With Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn and Harry Morgan.
I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) 82 min Fox/Disney. D: H. Bruce Humberstone. Victor Mature and Betty Grable rocketed to stardom in this stellar adaptation of Steve Fisher’s novel (who co-wrote the screenplay). New York sports promoter Frankie Christopher (Mature) is being hounded by obsessed detective Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) for the death of Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) who was found murdered by her sister (Grable)—is he innocent or guilty? Through a clever use of flashbacks, voice over and lighting, this early noir classic established the template that many films would imitate but few could equal. With: William Gargan, Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn and Elisha Cook Jr.
Introduction by vocalist Victoria Mature, daughter of Victor Mature.
DETECTIVE STORY (1951) 103 min. Paramount D: William Wyler.
Sidney Kingsley’s hit Broadway play is brought to the screen with melodramatic verve by the great William Wyler. A day in the life of an N.Y.P.D. detective squad turns out to have shattering consequences for uber dedicated Detective McLeod (Kirk Douglas in a powerful performance) and his devoted wife Mary (Eleanor Parker’s Oscar nominated turn). Controversial for its time due to adult themes, Wyler reprised much of the original Broadway cast in the film including Lee Grant (Oscar nom Best Supporting Actress), Joseph Wiseman and Horace McMahon. Also starring: William Bendix, Cathy O’Donnell, George Macready and Gladys George. An outstanding film.