March 28, 2008


Arthur Lyons, 62; detective novelist and founder of Palm Springs Film Noir Festival (Mary Rourke, 3/28/08, Los Angeles Times)

Lyons helped launch the film festival with Craig Prater in 2001, after writing crime novels in the style of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler for more than 25 years. His protagonist, Jacob Asch, was a cynic with a sense of integrity and a genuine concern for others.

Starting with Lyons' first novel, "The Dead Are Discreet" in 1974, he delved into California cults, rebellious youth ("Castles Burning"), pornography ("Hard Trade") and other seedbeds of criminal activity. Critics admired "the pungency of his style, the neat planning and the avoidance of hokum," according to a 1975 article about Lyons' novels in the New York Times.

"Castles Burning," set in Palm Springs, was made into a television movie renamed "Slow Burn," starring Eric Roberts as Asch, in 1986.

As the host of the annual film noir festival, Lyons wore "gangster" suits and fedoras that encouraged audiences to dress up like gun molls and mob hit men.

"I try to make it a happening," Lyons said of the festival in a 2003 interview with the Desert Sun newspaper.

The schedule included three days of movies and interviews with Old Hollywood actors, including Rhonda Fleming, and writers, among them Mickey Spillane.

Photography exhibits, displays of vintage cars and a temporary "noir" bookstore rounded out the program.

The festival was held most years at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, with a screening schedule heavy on lesser-known B crime movies from the '40s and '50s.

..the modern masters, like Loren D. Estleman, Jonathan Valin, Michael Z. Lewin, Mr. Lyons, and a few others have been writing terrific noir mysteries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 28, 2008 10:30 AM
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