May Retro Movie Madness

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By Denise Ortuno Neil

If you’re into old school movies and in the Coachella Valley in the month of May, you’re going to be one happy movie camper. There is not one, but two ways to get your May Retro Movie Madness fix. One is at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Fest in Palm Springs, and the other is at the Films on the Great Lawn at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. Both film events bring films of yesterday back to the big screen for big May Retro Movie Madness fun.              rsz filmnoir2012

First, let’s get a little dark. It’s quite possibly the highest expression of black and white films, with dark angled filming, shadowy lighting, and dramatic plots. The Film Noir genre is a classic film lover’s dream. That being said, and speaking as a Film Noir fanatic myself, we in the Coachella Valley are fortunate to have a film festival dedicated to the genre with the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival that kicks off Thursday, May 11th, through May 14th, 2017 at the Camelot Theater in Palm Springs.

Film Noir, is a French term meaning, “black film” and was coined by French film critics to describe the style of American films made from the mid 1940’s to the mid 50’s. The defining term was inspired by the literal darkness in not only the color of the films, but also their solemn fatalistic direction and murderous storylines. Think of films like “The Maltese Falcon” or “Double Indemnity” and you will be right on target of what Film Noir is all about (two of my faves).

 The festival was established back in 2000 by the late mystery novelist and former Palm Springs city councilman, Arthur Lyons and is presented by the Palm Springs Cultural Center. The film fest celebrates the Film Noir genre with a selection of films, and also incorporates lectures and special guests.

This year’s festival will highlight 12 films including the opening nights film, Hollow Triumph (1948). Other films include, The Chase (1946), Black Angel (1946), Split Second (1953), Desperate (1947) and closing with Night and the City (1950), plus many more in between.

Special guests that will appear at the fest will be Monika Henried, Richard Duryea, Andy Robinson and Sara Karloff (daughter of Boris Karloff). Ticket prices are $13 per person, per film. Film goers can also purchase an all access pass for $125.

The festival is great fun for film enthusiasts, and offers a cultural look at film history with well preserved and coveted classics.

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Now the sunny side. The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, in partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, presents their spring Films on the Great Lawn, with Tales of Adolescent Adventures. The three films will entertain on May 12th, 19th and 26th, 2017.

Sunnylands, the former 200 acre estate of George and Leonore Annenberg, is a beautiful, expansive piece of desert history. Besides serving as the winter retreat for the Annenberg’s, the property has hosted dignitaries from around the world since it was first built in the 1960’s.

Following the passing of the Annenberg’s, the estate was transferred to the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands to the specifications of the Annenberg’s. The property goes on to be utilized as retreat and meeting arena for world leaders. The non-profit estate also offers tours of the property and the luscious gardens are open to the public.

The Films on the Great Lawn, is one of the events that has grown in popularity at Sunnylands. The movies in May include, Stand By Me (1986) on May 12th, which stars River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman. It is a story about four friends who go in search of a dead body, and strengthen their friendships along the way. Now and Then (1995) on May 19th, features Melanie Griffith, Rita Wilson, Demi Moore and Rosie O’Donnell, who take a look back at their childhood summer antics. The Sandlot (1993) on May 26th, reveals a story set in the San Fernando Valley about a neighborhood baseball team who befriend new boy.

The Sunnylands film event is free, and movie goers are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and a modest picnic. Alcohol, pets and smoking are not permitted. As parking is limited, carpooling is encouraged.

Films on the Great Lawn at Sunnylands is a really cool way to view classic films, while enjoying the gorgeous desert nights.

So there you have it. Two unique film events right here in the Coachella Valley to get your May Retro Movie Madness on. Enjoy!

For more information on the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Fest and to purchase tickets visit www.arturlyonfilmnoirfest.ning.com

For more information on Sunnylands visit www.sunnylands.org

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