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Eddie Mueller, Noir Host


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Apropos of this topic you forgot the twenty mules of Borax fame and also the ones that Ann Sothern wore in The Blue Gardenia when she went to bed in her clothes after her date with Ray. Too bad she left her black pumps at his place. Also Muhlenberg County is a nice place to visit for anyone into noir.

 

Wasn't it Anne Baxter who left her shoes at Raymond Burr's place?  Yeah, Ann Sothern was in the film, but she was just the understanding room mate /pal to Baxter's singular misery.   (not sure if that pun worked....)        

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To les madames, Cavegirl and Wonderly, your French is swell and maybe you ladies should cohost the next TCM noirfest? Having reread the original post by Cavegirl on this topic I must admit after reflection that I have to agree concerning the host being sub-par. By all accounts it would seem that American opportunism has perpetuated a group of noir advocates who have co-opted the original concept of Black Film as coined by French cinema historians, and are purveying many films in a self-serving way to perhaps make a buck on their outside agendas with little discernible background knowledge of film as a whole, or French film criticism either. Being a proper host to me would require more than a perfunctory rehashing of film plotlines, and anecdotal stories which could be found online. I think the true historian has a love of the genre without using it to promote one’s own work or subsidiary ventures that would give them a cut from other avenues. Sadly I see this too much in many of what passes for film noir online sites or authors of books which seem only to reflect knowledge in a tiny niche of dark film. Being that French critics used the term roman noir to describe British Gothic novels and later retagged earlier German films retroactively as noir prototypes according to their new rationale it seems the new breed does not fully understand the roots of black film in French or European poetic realism, or romantic fatalism of the archetype inspired by black drama of the style of Byronic reason, in which he inculcated the desire to feel the sensation of being alive even in pain. Perhaps this Summer of Darkness series was aimed at only the newbie to film but still one wonders why references to the works of Carne and Prevert with Gabin, or even literary antecedents like Hans Heinz Ewers who contributed the iconography of the femme fatale to the world were so absent. All in all, I think next time a host who is more-well versed in film as a whole and world cinema, who could put the black film into context instead of placing almost any crime drama shot at night as an example, would be preferable. To all those who were pleased with the hosting duties performed, I apologize but I did hope for a more scholarly host with more chutzpah on-screen. Too bad Jeanne Moreau was not available.

 

GordonCole:

First, as we say around here to newbies, welcome to the boards. Hope you stick around.

 

Second, I appreciate the way you write. I'd appreciate it even more if you broke up your text with paragraphs, or double spaced now and then, or something. Honestly, I'm not being snarky...but my attention is more engaged when I can read a post without staring at it really hard for several minutes.

"It's not you, it's me..."  There might be something wrong with my eyes, or my brain, or most likely both- it's an eye-brain co-ordination thing  - but it's just a chore for me to read a block of unbroken text like that. (But the words within that block are very well-written. They're just gathered too close together for me to read them easily.)

I know how obnoxious it is to be told how to write a post here, and I apologize. It's only because what you have to say is interesting, and I'd rather read it without straining that eye-brain difficulty I was mentioning.

 

Third:  I suspect that Film Noir as a genre ("no, dammit, it's not a genre, it's a style ! " ), has been discussed on these boards more than any other type of film. And that's fine with me, because I love the Dark Film.

 

A few quibbles with your post (aside from the eye-brain thing):

 

I'm sorry you think Eddie Muller is sub-par as the host of noir. I honestly do not believe that he has a hidden agenda, that he just wants to make money from (or for?) his Film Noir Foundation. Everything about Mr. Muller suggests to me a genuine and informed love for noir, and a desire to share it with others, no ulterior money-making motive involved.

 

I also think that most people who watch TCM are smart and discerning, (at least the film noir fans!)  

However,I'm not sure they (this includes me) are looking for the kind of scholarly, intensive analysis of noir that you speak of, and apparently would like to see in lieu of the perhaps more lightweight intros Eddie M. did.

While I do get the idea that there's a lot to say about this genre (no ! style !) of film, Eddie's presentations were constrained by time - he was doing a general overview of whatever film he'd be talking about, and how it fits in the classic noir canon, rather than an academic lecture on the subject.

 

Hey, film noir is fun!  Let's not get too po-faced about it.

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.... Being that French critics used the term roman noir to describe British Gothic novels and later retagged earlier German films retroactively as noir prototypes according to their new rationale it seems the new breed does not fully understand the roots of black film in French or European poetic realism, or romantic fatalism of the archetype inspired by black drama of the style of Byronic reason, in which he inculcated the desire to feel the sensation of being alive even in pain. .....

 

Well, here we have the crux of the biscuit. I really like this part of your post. I think film noir is all about "romantic fatalism". And I love that idea of "the desire to feel the sensation of being alive even in pain", which certainly applies to many characters in noir.

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Thanks for the kind words, Misswonderly. I shall try to separate into paragraphs more often.

 

My beef is that I find the current noirmonger elite who profess to be experts on this topic to be Johnny-Come-Latelys to the noirfair and find their auto-professed expert status to be quite a bit exaggerated. You brought up a rock'n'roll concept to this thread affair and just as I have always been offended by the white artists of the early rock days who co-opted the works of black musicians like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and many blues musicians and made moola off another's work, I see these noir neophytes who continually write books sponging off the work of others, very offensive. I have found the remarks of just the regular Joe and Jill on the street who are posting at TCM to be often much more insightful and knowledgeable about noir films than Mr. Muller. And as I said, to be able to understand the film noir niche in cinema history one should also have a smattering of knowledge about world cinema in general which I do not see in these American infiltrators like him or his cohorts online with their very facile websites.

 

And my issue with the hosting duties lay purely in a visual sense, being that Muller does not seem to have any panache in front of the camera and is stiff as a board. Anyone who saw Robert Mitchum on TCM in the recent replay of his interview with Dick Cavett, would understand what makes certain persons interesting to watch on camera and what is not interesting. With a world of possible hosts for a series like this, I had hoped for someone with a more scholarly background in film and with more style and personality on camera. I still nominate you or Cavegirl as proper substitutes.

And yes, you are right about it being Anne Baxter, losing her shoes. Sorry for the memory blunder.

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.......And my issue with the hosting duties lay purely in a visual sense, being that Muller does not seem to have any panache in front of the camera and is stiff as a board. Anyone who saw Robert Mitchum on TCM in the recent replay of his interview with Dick Cavett, would understand what makes certain persons interesting to watch on camera and what is not interesting. With a world of possible hosts for a series like this......

 

Hey, too bad we can't get Mitch to do it!

And, come to think of it, there is a noir about resurrecting the dead (Decoy ). However, I'm afraid Robert Mitchum has been dead too long for the method to work. Still, there's always Out of the Past......

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Ah I don't know. Mitchum dead and resurrected as a corpse would still be more interesting than Muller who is duller than ditchwater. Say I saw the controversy surrounding the spelling of his name. Someone told me his name isn't even Muller anyway but is something more like Pupkin or Popovitch. You are a fount of noir knowledge Misswonderly. What's the real deal on his real moniker? Could it be Eddie Munster instead of Eddie Muller?

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Thanks for the kind words, Misswonderly. I shall try to separate into paragraphs more often.

 

My beef is that I find the current noirmonger elite who profess to be experts on this topic to be Johnny-Come-Latelys to the noirfair and find their auto-professed expert status to be quite a bit exaggerated. You brought up a rock'n'roll concept to this thread affair and just as I have always been offended by the white artists of the early rock days who co-opted the works of black musicians like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and many blues musicians and made moola off another's work, I see these noir neophytes who continually write books sponging off the work of others, very offensive. I have found the remarks of just the regular Joe and Jill on the street who are posting at TCM to be often much more insightful and knowledgeable about noir films than Mr. Muller. And as I said, to be able to understand the film noir niche in cinema history one should also have a smattering of knowledge about world cinema in general which I do not see in these American infiltrators like him or his cohorts online with their very facile websites.......

 

 

I'm glad you weren't offended by my suggestion.

( Hey, my husband recently finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. It took him months, and he's a very disciplined reader, and loves books, even difficult ones. However, this one was a chore to get through, even for him. And one of the main problems with it was, there were no paragraphs. He said at one point there were 12 pages of unbroken text. Combine that with existentialist Russian philosophizing and you've got one onerous novel to read. Of course, it could be the translation.

ButIdigress.....)

 

As for your take on the "bandwagon" phenomenon film noir has experienced in the last few years, I think I know what you mean. However, I don't believe Mr. Muller is a bandwagon jumper. 

I first learned about film noir from watching old movies on a great television show aired in Ontario, many years ago. It was called "Saturday Night at the Movies", and I saw quite a few great film noirs on it. But this introductory experience to noir was more emotional than academic for me. 

The first book I read about noir was  Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style,  edited by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, 1980 edition.  Most of the ideas I have about the genre - or style-  are derived from that.

 

Regarding your comments about American blues/ rock 'n roll: I love both the original and the re-invented versions of this music. All those British bands in the early 60s made great music. They loved those American blues and r n b musicians; they took that music and tweaked it and played with it, respectfully, and made it into something else. Not better, not worse, just different.  For me, music is all about that, being open to different genres and integreting them into your own sound. Or not. But I don't feel those who do this are unethical. It's not stealing, it's borrowing. Melding. Taking something that already exists and altering it to create something new.

 

I do, however, agree that acknowledgement and compensation should have been made to the original guys who wrote these songs, many of whom were still alive when bands like the Stones and the Yardbirds ( and many many others) were recording their versions of those tunes.

Led Zeppelin were the worst for this. (Funny, these guys have already come up on this thread...)

 

Still, I am not a music - or film- purist. I find there's more to be gained, both aesthetically and entertainmentally (just made that word up) in being open to combinations and inter-marriage, so to speak, between all eras and genres.

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Thx for your sage thoughts Misswonderly. Having read almost all the works of Dostoevsky as I like morose subject matter I can relate to your husband's issues though I had much more trouble with the patronymics in War and Peace and its multitinous characters. As to rock originators I feel that those who honored the earlier works of American blues stylists,  like Zeppelin and the Yardbirds and Beatles were paying homage to their heroes but those who just appropriated the works for their own desultory remakes like Pat Boone were despicable and only doing so for the money. Race stations being the only places that some artists were heard, as opposed to mainstream top 40 radio stations of the mid-1950's, were why many white teens listened to offshore music for the real stuff which is why Wolfman Jack was famous maybe. I think the noir ripoff expert market is overloaded at this point with many if not most who understand little of what noir really is about. It is a much wider ranging topic than dames in the dark themes would imply to a real enthusiast. I too am open to all manner of inventive attributions or borrowings but have a need for ethical standards of behaviour without all the self-professed expert wannabe smatterings of knowledge being bandied about by the non-cognescenti of noir. You are a woman of integrity so thanks for your thoughts.

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I'm glad you weren't offended by my suggestion.

( Hey, my husband recently finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. It took him months, and he's a very disciplined reader, and loves books, even difficult ones. However, this one was a chore to get through, even for him. And one of the main problems with it was, there were no paragraphs. He said at one point there were 12 pages of unbroken text. Combine that with existentialist Russian philosophizing and you've got one onerous novel to read. Of course, it could be the translation.

ButIdigress.....)

 

As for your take on the "bandwagon" phenomenon film noir has experienced in the last few years, I think I know what you mean. However, I don't believe Mr. Muller is a bandwagon jumper. 

I first learned about film noir from watching old movies on a great television show aired in Ontario, many years ago. It was called "Saturday Night at the Movies", and I saw quite a few great film noirs on it. But this introductory experience to noir was more emotional than academic for me. 

The first book I read about noir was  Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style,  edited by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, 1980 edition.  Most of the ideas I have about the genre - or style-  are derived from that.

 

Regarding your comments about American blues/ rock 'n roll: I love both the original and the re-invented versions of this music. All those British bands in the early 60s made great music. They loved those American blues and r n b musicians; they took that music and tweaked it and played with it, respectfully, and made it into something else. Not better, not worse, just different.  For me, music is all about that, being open to different genres and integreting them into your own sound. Or not. But I don't feel those who do this are unethical. It's not stealing, it's borrowing. Melding. Taking something that already exists and altering it to create something new.

 

I do, however, agree that acknowledgement and compensation should have been made to the original guys who wrote these songs, many of whom were still alive when bands like the Stones and the Yardbirds ( and many many others) were recording their versions of those tunes.

Led Zeppelin were the worst for this. (Funny, these guys have already come up on this thread...)

 

Still, I am not a music - or film- purist. I find there's more to be gained, both aesthetically and entertainmentally (just made that word up) in being open to combinations and inter-marriage, so to speak, between all eras and genres.

I should know this, but if a band covers a song originally made by another band or artist, don't the original artist(s) and composer HAVE to be compensated?

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DGF, they would be compensated if they do a note by note remake but many songs have been used in pastiche versions particularly blues songs. Led Zeppelin did this sometimes but they at least appreciated the artists work and gave them their due in interviews. I was talking about in the early days of rock wherein even if Little Richard was paid for the use of a song by Pat Boone he still was not accorded the top 40 hit position for Billboard or the fame he was seeking. And even if he should have been paid by his record company in those days many many black artists were cheated of their rights which is why they would have rather had the hit on the white top 40 stations. Pat Boone had the gall to even want to change the words to Ain't That a Shame by Antoine Domino to Isn't That a Shame. Pretty pathetic but true. He now tries to say he helped perpetuate the song's chance at posterity and present it to a wider audience but I tend to see this as a newfound position to escape the charge of stealing another's rightful applause.

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DGF, they would be compensated if they do a note by note remake but many songs have been used in pastiche versions particularly blues songs. Led Zeppelin did this sometimes but they at least appreciated the artists work and gave them their due in interviews. I was talking about in the early days of rock wherein even if Little Richard was paid for the use of a song by Pat Boone he still was not accorded the top 40 hit position for Billboard or the fame he was seeking. And even if he should have been paid by his record company in those days many many black artists were cheated of their rights which is why they would have rather had the hit on the white top 40 stations. Pat Boone had the gall to even want to change the words to Ain't That a Shame by Antoine Domino to Isn't That a Shame. Pretty pathetic but true. He now tries to say he helped perpetuate the song's chance at posterity and present it to a wider audience but I tend to see this as a newfound position to escape the charge of stealing another's rightful applause.

It's some justice that more than 50 years later, Little Richard's and Domino's versions of these songs are still heard, but Boone's versions never are.

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I should know this, but if a band covers a song originally made by another band or artist, don't the original artist(s) and composer HAVE to be compensated?

 

You would think so, and yeah, that's the way it ought to be. But unfortunately, for whatever reason, those early blues guys often were NOT compensated, or sometimes not even acknowledged as the original creators of the song.

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You might be right about it being the translation. I have the translation by

Constance Garnett, who was the "go to" English translator of Dostoyevsky

and Tolstoy for the first half of the 20th century. Of course there has been

a lot of back and forth about how good her translations were, which is way

above my pay grade. Her version of The Brothers Karamazov does have

paragraph breaks on each page, though some of the paragraphs are rather

lengthy. Now whether that occurred in the original Russian is something

I don't know.

 

Well, since all sorts of languages (other than English) have already graced the pages of this thread, perhaps we should continue the discussion in Russian.

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You might be right about it being the translation. I have the translation by

Constance Garnett, who was the "go to" English translator of Dostoyevsky

and Tolstoy for the first half of the 20th century. Of course there has been

a lot of back and forth about how good her translations were, which is way

above my pay grade. Her version of The Brothers Karamazov does have

paragraph breaks on each page, though some of the paragraphs are rather

lengthy. Now whether that occurred in the original Russian is something

I don't know.

Well, there is one chapter at the end of Part One that is pure stream-of-consciousness as I recall.  When Dmitri is racing to meet Grushenka.  One of the most powerful pieces of literature that I have read.

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Что касается меня, вы можете оставить в частях, где Дмитрий strums на гитаре и дает его

мнения по различным вопросам. Скучно. :D

 

Saaaaay, now isn't that the second verse to the song "Crimea River"???

 

(...sorry)

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Thanks for the kind words, Misswonderly. I shall try to separate into paragraphs more often.

 

My beef is that I find the current noirmonger elite who profess to be experts on this topic to be Johnny-Come-Latelys to the noirfair and find their auto-professed expert status to be quite a bit exaggerated. You brought up a rock'n'roll concept to this thread affair and just as I have always been offended by the white artists of the early rock days who co-opted the works of black musicians like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and many blues musicians and made moola off another's work, I see these noir neophytes who continually write books sponging off the work of others, very offensive. I have found the remarks of just the regular Joe and Jill on the street who are posting at TCM to be often much more insightful and knowledgeable about noir films than Mr. Muller. And as I said, to be able to understand the film noir niche in cinema history one should also have a smattering of knowledge about world cinema in general which I do not see in these American infiltrators like him or his cohorts online with their very facile websites.

 

And my issue with the hosting duties lay purely in a visual sense, being that Muller does not seem to have any panache in front of the camera and is stiff as a board. Anyone who saw Robert Mitchum on TCM in the recent replay of his interview with Dick Cavett, would understand what makes certain persons interesting to watch on camera and what is not interesting. With a world of possible hosts for a series like this, I had hoped for someone with a more scholarly background in film and with more style and personality on camera. I still nominate you or Cavegirl as proper substitutes.

And yes, you are right about it being Anne Baxter, losing her shoes. Sorry for the memory blunder.

 

It didn't matter to me that Muller did not have "panache" in front of the camera. It was a wrap around gig. He wasn't up for an Academy Award (or an Emmy whatever). I didn't feel I needed breathtaking screen presence for that. He had the credentials and was well spoken. I wouldn't use the comparison to a popular movie star (Mitchum) being personally interviewed just to show how bland I might think Muller is. Few could win that battle. It doesn't help to compare Muller unfavorable to dead people either. Frankly, I have trouble imagining Jeanne Moreau doing what Muller did and coming across any better. I admire TCM for choosing a guy like Muller instead of looking for some actor superstar. Muller was fine.

Edited by laffite
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It didn't matter to me that Muller did not have "panache" in front of the camera. It was a wrap around gig. He wasn't up for an Academy Award (or an Emmy whatever). I didn't feel I needed breathtaking screen presence for that. He had the credentials and was well spoken. I wouldn't use the comparison to a popular movie star (Mitchum) being personally interviewed just to show how bland I might think Muller is. Few could win that battle. It doesn't help to compare Muller unfavorable to dead people either. Frankly, I have trouble imagining Jeanne Moreau doing what Muller did and coming across any better. I admire TCM for choosing a guy like Muller instead of looking for some actor superstar. Muller was fine.

 

Then how about if we compare Eddie's work in those wraparounds to some LIVING actor's fairly recent wraparounds, laffite? Specifically Matthew Broderick and when HE was a guest presenter for a series of screwball comedies.

 

'Cause at least in EDDIE'S case, HE seemed to actually be INTERESTED in doing this little gig, and whereas in Matthew case it seemed as if HE was about as interested in doing HIS little gig about as much as he would going to his dentist for a freakin' ROOT canal!!!

 

Yep, compared to Matthew's extremely lackluster presentations, Eddie was a veritable DYNAMO!!!

 

(...and which I believe begs the question: HEY, TCM. Before you sign some of these celebrities up for these gigs, how about FIRST doin' a little AUDITION with 'em to maybe see IF they MIGHT be at all GOOD at this kind'a thing, HUH?! OR, is this kind'a thing always just a case of "beggars can't be choosers"? OR, might it be the case that IF once these celebs are asked to do this and once they'd actually DO an audition, nobody would have the guts to walk up to 'em and tell 'em, "Wow, ya know when it comes to talkin' directly to the camera, you really suck at this sort'a thing, doncha?!!!")

 

LOL

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It didn't matter to me that Muller did not have "panache" in front of the camera. It was a wrap around gig. He wasn't up for an Academy Award (or an Emmy whatever). I didn't feel I needed breathtaking screen presence for that. He had the credentials and was well spoken. I wouldn't use the comparison to a popular movie star (Mitchum) being personally interviewed just to show how bland I might think Muller is. Few could win that battle. It doesn't help to compare Muller unfavorable to dead people either. Frankly, I have trouble imagining Jeanne Moreau doing what Muller did and coming across any better. I admire TCM for choosing a guy like Muller instead of looking for some actor superstar. Muller was fine.

I didn't have any issue with Muller either.  He is the Founder and President of the Film Noir Foundation.  He has been dubbed the "czar of noir." I can't think of a more fitting person to have been selected to introduce the films than Muller.  I think it worked having a subdued host.  It matches the content of the films he's presenting.  In my opinion, someone else who would have been amazing to introduce these films (but who is unfortunately, dead) would have been Robert Stack.  Having someone who is already knowledgeable about the films he's presenting is also helpful, because the wraparounds would most likely have accurate and interesting insights and Muller would be able to provide the information himself and wouldn't necessarily have to rely on a writing staff. 

 

Matthew Broderick's hosting duties stand out because he was so horrible.  Which to me, I couldn't believe how awful he was seeing that he was a constant fixture on Broadway.  What also made Broderick's lackluster performance stand out was the genre of film he was introducing-- Screwball comedies.  His demeanor suggested that he was about to introduce heart-wrenching films about the trials and tribulations of famine or living with incurable cancer or something.  I wish they had gotten Broderick's buddy, Nathan Lane to have hosted the films.  I feel like Lane would have at least presented the films with personality. 

 

Muller was a million times better than Broderick.

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It didn't matter to me that Muller did not have "panache" in front of the camera. It was a wrap around gig. He wasn't up for an Academy Award (or an Emmy whatever). I didn't feel I needed breathtaking screen presence for that. He had the credentials and was well spoken. I wouldn't use the comparison to a popular movie star (Mitchum) being personally interviewed just to show how bland I might think Muller is. Few could win that battle. It doesn't help to compare Muller unfavorable to dead people either. Frankly, I have trouble imagining Jeanne Moreau doing what Muller did and coming across any better. I admire TCM for choosing a guy like Muller instead of looking for some actor superstar. Muller was fine.

Muller is not supposed to be a stand-up comedian. He's supposed to be a host.

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