The late spring and beginning of summer is my favorite time of the year in Southern California. The roses are in bloom, the temperature in the San Fernando Valley hasn’t yet reached the upper extremes of a pizza oven and the birds sing all day. It is also the time for cinematic darkness. The annual NOIR CITY, HOLLYWOOD film festival opens this Friday for its 18th season at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. It is difficult for me to believe that I’ve been attending this festival since a screaming Lawrence Tierney was 86ed from the theater lobby. I’ve also been the co-programmer and co-host with my inspired comrade in noir, Eddie Muller. With the American Cinematheque’s stellar programmer Gwen DeGlise, we have put together some memorable programs during the past decade, but perhaps none better than this year’s fest that opens on Friday April 15.
In addition to opening the festival with the Film Noir Foundation and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) funded restoration of LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (THE BITTER STEMS), 1956 by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, our good friends at Universal Studios have struck new 35mm prints of cinematic treasures including ALL MY SONS (1948), FLESH AND FURY (1951), FLESH AND FANTASY (1943) and MEET DANNY WILSON (1952) that haven’t been viewed on a theater screen for decades and are not on DVD. The extraordinary festival line-up can be found on the American Cinematheque website.
Following NOIR CITY is the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs, California on May 12-15 at the Camelot Theaters. Still going strong after 17 years, I’ve programmed a mixture of classics and obscure gems including the world premiere of two esteemed restorations. SUDDEN FEAR (1952), highlighted by Joan Crawford’s Oscar ® nominated performance opposite Jack Palance, and THE ACCUSED (1949) one of Hal B. Wallis’s best films noir both return to the festival circuit after a long absence. We’ve also continued our tradition of having guest stars attend with actors Claude Jarman Jr. for INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949) and Ann Robinson with DRAGNET (1954), scheduled to attend. Esteemed cinema biographer James Curtis, author of “William Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Films to Come” is also due in for a book signing and discussion. I’ll be introducing the films along with my Film Noir Foundation cohorts Eddie Muller and Foster Hirsch. The high desert vibe and the ambience of the Camelot Theaters makes for a glorious weekend of film.
I hope to see you in Hollywood or Palm Springs, or, as Sydney Greenstreet might say, “Better and better” if you are at both venues in April and May!