‘New’ movie to kick off Film Noir Festival

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Bill Marchese

Dillinger with Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys

Something surprising at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in May is a “New film, only 25 years old,” which by Alan K. Rode’s standards is fresh from the movie theater.

Writer and film historian Alan K. Rode is in his eighth year as producer and host of the Film Noir Festival. Founded by the late crime fiction writer and Palm Springs City Councilman Arthur Lyons, the festival is celebrating its 16th year, running May 14-17.

The new film on opening night will be Miller’s Crossing by the Cohn brothers. “This film put the Cohn brothers on the map as filmmakers,” Rode said. “Time magazine rated the film one of the 100 best. Jon Polito, one of the actors “whose performance was something to behold,” Rode said, is scheduled to speak after the screening.

Most noir films scheduled for the festival were made in the 1940s and ‘50s. In  black and white, they deal with crime, cops and alcoholic private eyes, gangsters in fedoras, women in stiletto heels and too much lipstick and everyone smoking cigarettes (even in hospitals).

The films schedule below was tentative at press time and the guest speakers subject to availability:

May 14

7:30 p.m. Opening night, Miller’s Crossing, 1990

The movie, which elevated Joel and Ethan Coen to their rightful status as consequential American filmmakers, involves Prohibition-era mobsters squabbling over the fate of a bookie. This noir stained masterpiece offers superb performances by Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, J. E. Freeman and Albert Finney. Special guest, Jon Polito.

May 15

10 a.m., They Won’t Believe Me, 1947

On trial for his life, Robert Young relates his tale of woe with a litany of betrayals culminating in a shattering conclusion. With Susan Hayward, Jane Greer and Rita Johnson

1 p.m. On Dangerous Ground, 1951

Hard, withdrawn city cop (Robert Ryan) roughs up one too many suspects and is sent upstate to help investigate the murder of a young girl in the winter countryside. Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond.

4 p.m., The Big Clock, 1948

A classic suspense film, Ray Milland races against time to clear himself of a murder amid the tyrannical scrutiny of odious publisher Charles Laughton, who is framing him for murder. Costarring Maureen O’Sullivan.

7:30 p.m., Dillinger, 1945

This biopic of America’s Public Enemy #1 broke box office records and established the King Brothers as Hollywood’s leading cur-rate purveyors of post war outlaw cinema. With Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys, who is special guest speaker. 

Chicago Calling with Dan Duryea

May 16

10 a.m. Tomorrow is Another Day, 1951

Released from prison, a man struggles to adjust to the outside world but gets involved with a cheap dancehall dame. When her protector is accidentally killed, they go on the lam together. With Ruth Roman, Steve Cochran.

4 p.m., Panic in the Streets, 1950

A frenetic Richard Widmark is a doctor with only 48 hours to chase down disease-infected criminals with local cop Paul Douglas in seedy New Orleans. Directed by Elia Kazan. Debut performance by Jack Palance along with Zero Mostel, Barbara Bel Geddes.

7:30 p.m., Chicago Calling, 1951

Dan Duryea gives his seminal performance as a quintessential loser who strives to sustain himself during a prolonged family crisis. Duryea is perfectly matched by child actor Gordon Gebert amid the location photography of downtown L.A. Scheduled guest is Gordon Gebert.

May 17

10 a.m., Abandoned, 1949

Gale Storm arrives in Los Angeles to hunt for her missing sister. With reporter Dennis O’Keefe she uncovers a black market baby ring. It gets gut wrenching when heavies Raymond Burr and Mike Mazurki are involved. Screen debut by Jeff Chandler.

1 p.m. Hangover Square, 1945

Victorian-era thriller of a young London composer (Laird Cregar) with ominous gaps in his memory and unbridled love for dance hall tart Linda Darnell. Co-starring George Sanders and Faye Marlowe. Guest speaker is producer and author Steven C. Smith.

4 p.m., Thieves Highway, 1949

One of the most satisfying of films noir has war veteran turned truck driver Richard Conte matched against venal produce wholesaler Lee J. Cobb. Beautifully shot, acted and adapted by A.I. Bezzerides from his novel. Costarring Valentina Cortesa as a streetwalker with a heart of gold.

If you go

What: Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival

When: May 14-17

Where: Camelot Theater, 2300 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs

Tickets: www.camelottickets.com

More: Arthurlyonsfilmnoir.ning.com