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books on film noir

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Here's another one to add to that terrific list:

KINGS OF THE B's (edited by Tod McCarthy) many of the articles in this out-of-print collection (published in 1975) deal with film noir and they're quite provocative. Check Amazon or eBay for copies. (Dreams & Dead Ends is a personal favorite of mine, too.)

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Okay, I went back and checked my bookshelves and made a list.


"Boom and Bust" by Thomas Schatz is a history of American film in the Forties. He has some very perceptive comments about film noir and how Hitchcock's films of the decade fit in with film noir.


"Somewhere in the Night" by Nicholas Christopher is a consideration of film noir that branches out and discusses some films most books skip over.


"Dark City" by Eddie Muller takes a less than reverent view of film noir and gives a lot of info about the performers who became film noir icons or gargoyles.


"Dark City: the Film Noir" by Spencer Selby is one of the first books on film noir. Good comments on 50 key films.


"Film Noir" by Andrew Spicer is the one you need if you can read only one. He looks at classic noir, neo-noir and British noir. The book is short but very informative and perceptive.


"Crime Movies" by Carlos Clarens covers the entire gangster genre but his chapters on noir are very interesting.


"A Girl and a Gun" by David N. Meyer is a guide to key noirs, but his comments (especially about Lang and Siodmak's films) are very perceptive.


The "Film Noir Reader" series by Silver and Ursini collects important articles and reviews pertaining to the "identification" of film noir since the late Sixties. Very useful.

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Hey Mike - A pair of classics you might want to check out are DREAMS AND DEAD ENDS by Jack Shadoian (which has come back into print in a new edition) and KINGS OF THE B's, edited by Todd McCarthy and Tom Flinn which collects many intriguing articles about B films, most notably film noir. It's out of print unfortunately, but they probably turn up on eBay or Amazon.com. Well worth checking out!

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"Dreams and Dead Ends" is one of my favorite books, and I have both editions. It covers the whole gangster genre, from Little Caesar to Godfather (first edition) and gets into the Nineties in the second edition, and adds a section on "Criss Cross."

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  • 2 weeks later...

An excellent book on the film noirs of Robert Siodmak (the man who made the most of any director who woked in that style) is "The File on Robert Siodmak," by J. Greco. The book covers Siodmak's time in Hollywood from 1941 to 1951 and has historical documentation and analysis of his best noirs, some that are rare and forgotten, like "Christmas Holiday" and "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry."

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  • 2 years later...
  • 1 month later...

I just found another intriguing book about noir, it's called "Shades of Noir" and it's a collection of essays edited by Joan Copjec. It's available from online sellers:




The book also features a whole chapter dedicated to The Blue Gardenia, which I hope to comment on more extensively in the thread dedicated to that movie.

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There's a thread about Dewey's book on the General Discussions forum - hopefully folks will give this book a try, it's really fun in a way that you don't usually find in noir books.


And speaking of other books, I have recently come across a nifty little volume called "San Francisco Noir" by Nathaniel Rich, published by The Little Bookroom. I hope to take a closer look over the next few weeks.

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  • 6 months later...

Just learned about this exciting new book from Leonard Maltin's website:




by Kevin Johnson; foreword by Guy Maddin (Oak Knoll Press)


As in his first volume, antiquarian book dealer and film buff Kevin Johnson has gathered and chronicled pristine first editions of the novels and plays that served as the basis for memorable film noirs, focusing this time on the period 1950-65. If you?re a book lover, just having the opportunity to gaze at perfect color reproductions of these vintage volumes, with their evocative dust jackets?or in some cases, paperback covers?is worth the price of admission. If you love the films, too, there is much to be learned from this survey?names of forgotten authors and obscure novels that gained a degree of immortality by being taken up by Hollywood. (To cite just two examples, Gerald Butler?s Mad With Much Heart and Charles Einstein?s The Bloody Spur may not still be in print, but the films they inspired?On Dangerous Ground and While the City Sleeps, are evergreens.)


For every entry, Johnson provides a brief summary of the author?s career, a bibliophile?s detail about the first edition, and a cogent assessment of the screen adaptation and its variance from the original text, citing the most prominent writers on the subject of film noir.


As icing on the cake, the gifted, eccentric filmmaker Guy Maddin has provided an eloquent and enthusiastic foreword. I can?t resist quoting his opening paragraph: ?O film noir, I beseech thee! Guide me through the rocky shoals of moral ambiguity to the clear, happy waters of utter misanthropy! Lend me your advices that I may keep them handy for the very next time a dame does me wrong. Thrill me with your punch-ups, your screaming night-queens, your snap-brim dialogue, your dirty truths and your coward-kings! Carry me away, film noir, to the land where the platypus plays; or deposit me, beaten and bruised, on the curb near Los Angles? Union Station; or, if you?re well and truly done, if all the high notes have been played through that torture-earpiece, just send me screaming form the top of Carlotta?s mission tower and let Bernard Herrmann score my funeral! (The On Dangerous Ground ?Death Hunt? theme, please!)


At $95.00 this is a pricey volume, I know, but it has much to offer, both as a reference and as a source of sheer pleasure. It would cost much more to purchase even one of the rare books illustrated here.



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