There are few people in the classic movie world whose word is sacrosanct as is the word of noirchaelogist Eddie Muller, founder and president of The Film Noir Foundation, host of Noir Alley on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and the Czar of Noir. This is particularly true of films noir, their roots, spices and latent criminals all of which are rendered vivid through Mr. Muller’s enthusiastic introductions and writings. That same style is evident in Mr. Muller’s latest book, a revised and expanded edition of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir presented by TCM and Running Press.
When visiting with Dark City one expects a deep dive into the shadows of noir. What you get, however, is much more than that. Mr. Muller takes you on a fascinating journey as he outlines in colorful style the elements of the dark city in which the world of noir resides. Its locales, its establishments, and its players are given unique attention referencing key films so that the vivid darkness stays with you beyond the book’s pages.
A particularly entertaining part of Dark City are the odes to major players in the world of noir. John Garfield’s important role in the development of film noir as the embodiment of the naturalist style central to these films lends a new way to view the actor’s performances. The noir legacy of Gloria Grahame who, by the way, will be the focus of Noir Alley on September 18, is also spotlighted as is “Actress as Auteur” Joan Crawford. Of course, no discussion of noir can exclude Barbara Stanwyck, “the epitome of noir, “The most talented woman in town” Ida Lupino, “Dark City’s Beatnik Cowpoke” Robert Mitchum and reluctant star Sterling Hayden. And that is just the beginning.
It is difficult to stop. There is a wealth of material to read and stunning photographs to savor in Dark City, revised and expanded from the 1998 release of the same title. This is the type of book anyone interested in film will revisit frequently. Those interested in film noir will not be able to put it down.
If you’re ever watched an Eddie Muller introduction on Noir Alley or have been lucky enough to see him live in a movie theater, you know he brings a unique enthusiasm to the world of noir. That same enthusiasm jumps at you from Dark City and with it Muller elevates the crime picture to new heights…or new despicable lows.