Film noir festival celebrates dark cinema

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Connie George

Joan Crawford has an intense encounter with Raymond Massey in 1949’s Possessed. The film noir classic stars Crawford as a woman who degenerates into madness over her romantic obsession with a former lover, played by Van Heflin. The film will cap the 12th Annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, scheduled for May 10 to 13 at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.

Copyright 1947 Warner Bros. Pictures Distributing Corp

“You can tell you’re watching film noir when in the first 10 minutes the main protagonist gets screwed over and it goes downhill from there,” said Alan K. Rode, director of the 12th Annual Arthur Lyons Film Festival that will celebrate the moody, melodramatic genre May 10 to 13 in Palm Springs.

Movies from this classic cinematic era were mainly produced between the early 1940s and early 1960s, Rode said, “When America shed its adolescence about World War II and grew up.” Heavy with period postwar cynicism, these black-and-white films are laden with suspense, sexuality and crime portrayed from the perspective of the criminals.

Named for its late founder, who was a mystery author and community leader, and presented by the Palm Springs Cultural Center, the festival is entering its 12th year and continuing its mission of screening rare and rarely seen film noir classics, many of which cannot be found on DVD.

This year, 12 films will be on the Thursday-to-Sunday schedule, each to be introduced by film historians and other commentators, and then followed by discussions with celebrities affiliated with the productions, autographs and book signings.

Among the celebrities this year will be actor and author Peter Ford, who will speak about his father Glenn Ford’s role in 1955’s The Big Heat and sign copies of his biography about his dad. Actor and producer David Ladd will discuss his father Alan Ladd’s appearance in 1949’s The Great Gatsby.

Complete details on the festival schedule, including days, times, and a full list of films and celebrity appearances, will be available on the festival website,, by Friday, April 13. Partial details, including complete descriptions of the films that have been confirmed, are already posted on the site.

Those films include:

  • Hell’s Island (1955) — Directed by Phil Karlson and starring John Payne, Mary Murphy, Arnold Moss, Paul Picerni and Sandor Szabo.
  • The Face Behind the Mask (1941) — Directed by Robert Florey and starring Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe and George E. Stone.
  • Shield for Murder (1954) — Directed by Howard W. Koch and starring Edmond O’Brien, Marla English, John Agar, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones, Claude Akins and William Schallert.
  • I Love Trouble (1948) — Directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Franchot Tone, Janet Blair, Janis Carter, Adele Jergens, Lynn Merrick, John Ireland and Raymond Burr.
  • The Big Heat (1953) — Directed by Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin and Alexander Scourby.
  • The Great Gatsby (1949) — Directed by Elliott Nugent and starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, Macdonald Carey, Ruth Hussey, Barry Sullivan, Howard da Silva, Shelley Winters and Elisha Cook, Jr.
  • Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) — Directed by Arnold Laven and starring Richard Egan, Walter Matthau, Jan Sterling, Dan Duryea, Julie Adams, Sam Levene and Charles McGraw.
  • Possessed (1949) — The 4 p.m. closing film on Sunday, May 13. Directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Joan Crawford, Van Heflin and Raymond Massey.

All films will be shown at the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs.

An “all-access pass” for the full run of festival screenings and the opening night reception can be purchased for $120. Tickets for individual films will go on sale April 23 at a price to be announced. Reserve tickets by phone at 1-800-595-4849, online at, or in person at the Camelot box office from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.


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