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Billy Nichols

Created by Eddie Muller

Eddie Muller, already the author of several acclaimed non-fiction books on film noir, including The Art of Noir and Dark City Dames (and the son of a renowned Bay Area boxing writer) finally decided to bless us with his own particular idea of what noir fiction should be like, when he sucker-punched an unsuspecting world with his first novel, The Distance (2002). We shoulda seen it comin'!

In it, he introduced BILLY NICHOLS, a streeet-smart, wise-cracking sports columnist for the San Francisco Inquirer, whose rep for hard-hitting coverage of the manly arts has earned him, after years in the trenches, the well-deserved monicker of "Mr. Boxing." Billy's right out of central casting, right down to his pencil thin mustache, a fedora, his weaselly build and his hell-with-you attitude.

All the trappings of a zillion gritty black-and-white B-grade crime and fight flicks are present and accounted for, in ample detail. It's soon obvious that Muller, like Nichols, knows his stuff. It's all here -- the treacherous dames, the ham-fisted mick cops, the lumbering palookas and lovestruck bruisers, the tramps with hearts of gold and the iceberg wives with none, the cigar-chomping managers and slimy politicos, the sweaty gyms, the bucket-of-blood dives, plus all the usual adultery, blackmail, betrayals and murder you could want -- all pinned up against the finely-etched setting of post-World War II San Francisco, in prose that's as real and unapologetic as a spit bucket.

Muller followed up the Shamus-winning The Distance with Shadow Boxer in 2003.

Who says noir's dead? Not Eddie. Besides running film noir festivals all over the world, and running the Film Noir Foundation, in 2017 he began been hosting Noir Alley over at TCM.



Brief 2011 documentary on Eddie, covering his career as a writer, historian and guardian of cinematic history, predating his gig at TCM, built around a series of interviews conducted by John Stanley. The doc is interesting, but the real treat here is The Grand Inquisitor, Eddie's 2008 short film (21 minutes), starring noir icon Marsha Hunt.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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