2021 Arthur Lyons’ Film Festival, director Alan K. Rode discusses the return of the popular festival
Any true cinephile is aware that the best and most prestigious film noir film festival takes place once a year in the Palm Springs, CA. But like many good things, Covid has made an impact with film festival experience. Working tirelessly to bring this special film festival back to its fans is Alan K. Rode, film historian and author. In this exclusive interview, Rode describes his love for the genre of film noir, the difficulty to putting together this unique film festival and how the finished product has become an event that its fans (including some heavy hitters in the film industry today) wait for with anticipation each year.
With the competition between streaming and in-person filmgoing, Rode made it clear that if a film festival takes too long to return after Covid, that it may never return at all, “We had to skip the festival last year. And it was all too clear that if we skipped another year there may not be a film festival at all.”
To that end, Rode has worked to bring several films to this year’s film festival that you cannot see anywhere else:
EL VAMPIRO NEGRO (THE BLACK VAMPIRE), 1953 is a pro-feminist version of Fritz Lang’s film M, which comes from Argentina. This film was saved and was restored in 2014 by the UCLA Film Archive and with funding by the Film Noir Foundation and is being shown for the first time at this festival. The film features the story of a cabaret singer that tries to save her child from the clutches of a pedophile and is set on the seedy streets of Buenos Ares. The king of film noir and TCM host, Eddie Muller will be live at the festival to introduce this incredible film.
QUAI DES OUVERES (JENNY LAMOUR), 1947 is a French film noir film and Rode was emphatic that he wanted on French film on the schedule. This film was directed and written by Henri Georges Clouzot and the film was honored with the Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival. This film helped to turn around the career of Clouzot. Being side-lined by the belief that he may have been a collaborator with the Nazis during World War II, this film restored his reputation. The movie is the telling of a femme fatale dance hall girl, played by Suzy Delair, who employs a patron to fund her career, which puts her husband at the brink. One man dies and the other is blamed for the murder. Who will find out the truth?
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, 1938 has been seen by an audience is over 30 years. Rode was able to finally obtain permission to screen the film that showcases the talents of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart this year. Film noir fans will attend the festival just to see this film!
For a list of all the films being show at the festival click see schedule on the official festival’s website page.
Rode claimed that it’s not just the sizzling schedule that is difficult to produce for a festival but that completing the bill is bringing in special guests to help present the films. For the opening night screening of Where the Sidewalks End, 1950, Rode had scheduled an appearance by the daughter of the film’s star Dana Andrews. Susan Andrews will join Rode on stage following the screening of the film.
Author Steven C. Smith will present one of Bogart’s enduring films - The Big Sleep. The film features a score by the hardest working man on the Warner Bros. lot – composer Max Steiner and Smith is the author of a new biography of Steiner titled, “Music by Max Steiner, The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer.”
Producer Mark Fleischer, son of director Richard Fleisher will be the special guest for the screening of Violent Saturday from 1955. And to close the festival Victoria Mature, daughter of Victor Mature, will join Rode to discuss the film The Long Haul, 1957.
Midday Saturday will feature a book signing with Rode signing his biography “Michael Curtiz A Life in Film,” a revised and expanded paperback version. Eddie Muller will be signing “Dark City,” a revised and expanded version. And Steven C. Smith will sign his biography about Max Steiner.
It's not unusual to see an award-winning filmmaker in the audience of the Author Lyons' Film Festival. A few years ago, Director Oliver Stone, attended the opening night film. Rode earnestly described the experience of seeing film noir with an audience as being a unique filmgoing experience, "Seeing these films with an audience is an experience like no other. It brings another dimension to film noir."
The Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival is a Palm Springs Cultural Center program and will take place at the historic Camelot Theatres at 2300 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs, CA from Thursday, October 21, 2021 to Sunday, October 24, 2021.