I love film noir. I’m really into classic movies in general, but the way that film noir movies are bleak, urban, sometimes mysterious, full of men who can’t get a break, femme fatales in sharp hats, and the inevitability of fate… It’s such a great genre. Many of these movies were lost and the whole genre wasn’t really revered for a long time, but people like Eddie Muller, amongst others, and raised their profile. He worked to find and restore lost films and held film festivals, saving the genre and some films from oblivion.
This book was originally printed in the 90’s but has been revised and updated a little in this print. It’s such a great book. It’s thoroughly researched and packed with details, but it throws out the academic tone and keeps it as grounded and gritty as the film it talks about. A lot of film noir books are really deep, with academic language and explore philosophical aspects of the film. Which is great, I love reading those. But this book is for everyone, and by someone who loves these films, and I think the passion for the subject comes off the page. It’s a great primer for the genre as a whole, and Muller really knows what he’s talking about.
The book takes a playful approach, jocularly taking you on a tour of the “dark city” that these films are set in, with parts written to sound like a film noir. It has chapters on the tropes or elements of the genre, and introduces you to a range of the classic films, from the obvious to the less seen. It’s full of interesting back stories about the actors, directors, the studios, as well, and is interspersed with profiles of some of the major players. As you can see in the picture above, it has a lot of really beautiful photographs. The book as a whole is really beautifully bound and would make an excellent gift or addition to your library. I was really amazed by how clear some of the stills were, since I’ve seen many that aren’t.
I enjoyed this book so much. I added a few films that I hadn’t seen to my watchlist, and it made me want to re-watch some old favorites again as well. It’s such a great genre and loved that this book was like sitting with a friend who knows all about the subject and whose excitement and passion is infectious. If you love old movies, this one is highly recommended.
Read It If: you love classic films or it would make such a great gift for the movie lover in your life. Really beautiful.
Thank you Hachette Canada for the copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. Dark City is out now.