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Film noir fest opens with Palance offering ‘I Died’

Leigh, Van Doren, Simmons among panelists

Several thesps linked to criminal activity — in film — including Janet Leigh, Jean Simmons and Jack Palance will be headlining the second annual Festival of Film Noir, unspooling this week at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre.

Palance will open the fest Friday with a screening of his dark mountain resort caper “I Died a Thousand Times” (1955), to be followed by a discussion with Palance and pic’s co-stars Lori Nelson and Earl Holliman.

Janet Leigh will chat about her femme fatale perf in the “Act of Violence” (1949) following an April 8 showing of her film, which centers around a hellishly envisioned Los Angeles. “High Noon” helmer Fred Zinnemann directed the little-seen “Act.”

Also notable are slated in-person tributes and discussions by classic sirens Mamie Van Doren, Jean Simmons and Rhonda Fleming for their respective work in “Guns, Girls and Gangsters” (1959) “Angel Face” (1953) and “Slightly Scarlet” (1956).

“Scarlet,” this year’s most requested film after being featured in 1999’s debut Noir Fest, combines sexual neuroses with political cynicism. The Allan Dwan-helmed pic plays April 21.

Others dropping by the Cinematheque to show off their dark wares and gab about them will be Turhan Bey, “The Amazing Mr. X” (1948); Audrey Totter, “The Lady in the Lake” (1947); Ricardo Montalban, “Mystery Street” (1950); Barbara Hale, “The Window” (1949); and helmer Hubert Cornfield, “Plunder Road” (1957).

Also speaking, following screenings of their films, will be Colleen Gray, “Kiss of Death” (1947); Lizabeth Scott, “Pitfall” (1948); and Evelyn Keyes, “The Prowler” (1950).

Additionally, fresh prints of “711 Ocean Drive” (1950), “Gun Crazy” (1950) and “The Scarf” (1951) will be shown.

To close out the fest, the Cinematheque will throw a “Gangsters, Gumshoes and Molls” bash April 21 in the Egyptian Courtyard, with best-dressed prizes to be awarded.

For tickets and a complete sked of the fest, which runs March 31-April 23, call (323) 466-3456 or visit http://www.egyptiantheatre.com

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