The audience was older than those at the other noir festivals, reflecting the town's demographics. They were fans rather than aficionados. "Crowds in Los Angeles are extremely film savvy. I sometimes get the impression of 40 people sitting there in the front row who know just as much as I do," said Muller. "What's refreshing here is that people come to see a story and be entertained. They're not studying the lines on the film and the grains of the print. They just want to have fun."
"I live for this kind of stuff!" exclaimed an exuberant Viga Dean, a personal assistant decked out for the opening night in a Patti Page black and lace crinoline dress and cocktail hat with veil.
Factory owner Fred Lynch drove in from Phoenix, because noir films "are better in the theater," he said. "A lot of good directors worked in the genre on their way to becoming important directors, like Nicholas Ray and Anthony Mann."
Donna Stanley works in a San Francisco mystery bookstore, and for her the draw was Spillane: "He's the granddaddy of all mystery writers."
Looking around the theater, Fleming noted, "It's not that long ago that film noir didn't mean much. Now it's a hot ticket."
Last year, the festival lost money. Lyons, who financed the festival, was clearly happy as the festival closed. "After last year, I said there'd be no festival again if we lost money this year." And? "We made money," he said, smiling.
He's already plotting a smoldering Ann Sheridan lighting up the Camelot Theatre next year in "Nora Prentiss." Then adds: "But god knows if we're going to get it."