Film (and Film Noir)

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Sorted, by author....

  • Backer, Ron,
    Mystery Movie Series of 1930s Hollywood.. Buy this book
    Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2012.

A wonderful survey of twenty-two different series and over 150 individual films, primarily released during the 1930s, including chapters and film-by-film breakdown of the films of, among others, Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, Philo Vance, Nancy Drew, Torchy Blane and Mr. Wong.

  • Backer, Ron,
    Mystery Movie Series of 1940s Hollywood.. Buy this book
    Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2010.

More geeky movie goodness from Backer, this companion volume to Mystery Movie Series of 1930s Hollywood covers nineteen different series (and 146 different films), including those of Ellery Queen, Boston Blackie, Michael Shayne, Dick Tracy, the Falcon and the Saint. Witty, entertaining and compelling -- something thar can't always be said about the films discussed.

  • Cameron, Ian
    The Movie Book of Film Noir

  • Christopher, Nicholas
    Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City

Novelist and poet Nicholas Christopher takes an serious, enthusiastic and in-yer-face academic approach, alluding to pop culture, literature, bits of history, sociology, and, of course, about a zilliuon films. Intelligent, challenging and provocative.

  • Clark, Al
    Chandler in Hollywood
    New York: Proteus, 1982.

  • Copjec, Joan, editor
    Shades of Noir

A collection of essays on film noir that reassess the genre in light of contemporary social and political concerns, examining the role of the femme fatale and the reemergence of noir themes in new films by black directors.

  • Duncan, Paul, & Jürgen Müller, editors,
    Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites.. Buy this book
    Taschen, 2014.

What with all the whiskey fumes and cigarette smoke getting in their eyes, sometimes movies can go too fast for you to catch all the cinematic nuances. So along comes this hefty five-pound slab of a book to lend a hand. It's crammed with loads of glorious photos (many in glorious black and white!) and thoughtful essays on what the authors consider the 100 greatest examples of the genre, from early, ground zero German and French silent films right through the classic period and all the way to such modern neo-noir outliers as Black Swan, Sin City and The Dark Knight. Yummy.

  • Duncan, Paul, & Jürgen Müller, editors,
    Film Noir...Buy this book
    Taschen, 2017.

Apparently a truncated but still gorgeous version of 2014's Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites, featuring "Taschen's Top 50 Picks of Film Noir, 1940-60."

  • Everson, William K.
    The Detective in Film
    Toronto: Citadel Press, 1972.

Now painfully dated, but an important book for its time, as it attempted to trace the history of the "screen sleuth." Some great pictures, too!

  • Gifford, Barry
    The Devil Thumbs a Ride & Other Unforgettable Films....Buy this book
    New York: Grove Press, 1988.

Extremely readable, personal views of 100 or so examples of "the moody, ominous violent underbelly of American moviemaking." Excellent mini-essays on Chinatown, Out of the Past, Night Moves, White Heat and tons of others.

  • Gifford, Barry
    Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir....Buy this book
    Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.

Barry Gifford serves as the ideal guide to noir, identifying the greats and not-so-greats of the genre, casting his shrewd eye on -- and offering his wide-ranging opinions on -- such films as The Asphalt Jungle, Body and Soul, Body Heat, Charley Varrick, Chinatown, D.O.A., Double Indemnity, High Sierra, Key Largo, Kiss of Death, Mean Streets, Mildred Pierce, Mr. Majestyk, Out of the Past, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Strangers on a Train, as well as such Europeon noirs as Repulsion, The Hidden Room, Shoot the Piano Player, The 400 Blows and Odd Man Out. This is actually an updated and revised version of his previous The Devil Thumbs a Ride.

  • Gorman, Ed, Lee Server and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.
    The Big Book of Noi....Buy this book
    New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1998.

Amazing collection of informative, revealing, intriguing essays, interviews, excerpts, opinions and other neat stuff, both original and from various sources, covering noir in all its shadowy glory, from films and literature to radio, television and comics. Contributors include Ron Goulart, Max Allan Collins, Bill Pronzini, James Sallis, Robert Skinner, Stephen King, Gary Lovisi, Dick Lochte, William Nolan, Maxim Jakubowski, Bill Crider, Leigh Brackett and Etienne Borgers, among others. I can't praise this book enough. Passionate, diverse, opinionated, cranky, illuminating and enlightening, it's like a Greatest Hits of Noir Criticism.

  • Haut, Woody,
    Heartbreak and Vine....Buy this book
    London: Serpents Tail, 2003.

Subtitled "The fate of hard-boiled writers in Hollywood," this book shines a spotlight on the twisted love/hate relationship between the great crime novelists, from Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler to Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy, and the Hollywood dream factory. Haut is also the author of the acclaimed Neon Noir and Pulp Culture.

Hardly exhaustive although by no means slight, film writer Hogan's personal, idiosyncratic pick-and-choose take on film noir is a whole lotta fun. Featuring over seventy mostly short, always sharp essays (he calls them "case files") that cover films, creators, directors, actors, private eyes and even cartoons (Duck Twacy, anyone?). It may just deliver, as its subtitle promises, "All That's Left to Know About Hollywood's Golden Age of Dames, Detectives and Danger."

  • Hunter, Stephen,
    Violent Screen: A Critic's 13 Years on the Front Lines of Movie Mayhem...Buy this book..Kindle it
    Bancroft Press, 1995.

Novelsit (Dirty White Boys, I, Sniper, Point of Impact, etc.) and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Hunter dodges the moral and ethical debates, and simply serves up the good stuff; "a virtual laundry list of sex and violence," with plenty of savvy commentary and two-fisted wit along the way.

A labour of love. Lyons, the writer of the acclaimed Jacob Asch P.I. series, clues us in on some of his favourite things: namely, those beloved but now woefully-neglected noir B films of the 1940s and 1950s. Complete with cast lists, complete production notes, Lyons' incisive comments, and more trivia than you can shake a box of popcorn art, this is a must-have for any fan of cinematic cheap thrills. As Dean Koontz says on the cover blurb, "A terrific piece of work, the definitive book on its subject, and a body slam of nostalgia that knocked me out of my chair more than once."

  • Maltin, Leonard, editor.
    Leonard Maltin's TV Movies and Video Guide

It's been updated annually for years, but this is still probably one of my most-used reference books. Sure, others are way more comprehensive, but with it's intelligent, concise thumbnail reviews by Maltin and a cast of thousands, of about a quadzillion movies and videos, it's downright indispensable. Get it in paperback, because you'll be wanting to update it regularly.

  • Meyer, David N.
    A Girl and a Gun : The Complete Guide to Film Noir on Video
    Avon Books, 1998.

It's definitely not complete, and it's lacking actual video info, but it is a fun, at times hilarious, guide to film noir. Opinionated, silly, serious, objectionable, rude and in-your-face perceptive, this is the one to grab before heading off to the video store.

  • Miller, Don
    B Movies
    Curtis Books, 1973.

Like the blurb says, "A classic tribute to the heyday of Hollywood's double features--the stars, the studios, the directors." This is a great reference book, absolutely chockfull of fascinating trivia. The 1988 Ballantine paperback edition that I have features a foreward by Leonard Maltin.

  • Muller, Eddie
    Dark City: The Lost World Of Film Noir...Buy this book
    Griffin Trade Paperback, 1998.

As good as it gets. Perfect for the hardboiled movie buff who's already memorized The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. Great pictures and commentary worth reading. 208 pages, 150 b&w photos, plus 8 pages of color photos. All of it a hoot. "Akin to reading Hollywood Babylon," according to one Rara-Avian. "Dark City is pure fun." "... a scorching expose of the seedy, passion-fuelled underworld, and a rather timely appraisal of the McCarthyite era's shady cinematic output. ... DARK CITY has all the weight and power of a .45 slug and all the bite of two fingers of sour mash, straight up." (Total Film).

  • Muller, Eddie,
    Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir....Buy this book
    Regan Books/Harper Collins, 2001.

His last book was the amazing Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (1998). This time Eddie pays tribute to Marie Windsor, Audrey Totter, Jane Greer, Ann Savage, Evelyn Keyes and Coleen Gray, six Queens of the B's who, in the words of Playboy, "helped pave film noir's shadowy streets." Although he also manages to dig up plenty of dirt, this is ultimately a sympathetic and fascinating ode to the genre, and the women who helped define it.

  • Muller, Eddie,
    The Art of Noir: The Posters & Graphics from the Classic Era of Film Noir....Buy this book
    Overlook Press, 2002.

It just doesn't get any yummier than this.With over 300 full-color illustrations in all), many of them full-pages, Muller covers the noir beat once again, this time through movie posters. For fans, this is to fucking to die for. I want it.

  • Palmer, R. Barton
    Hollywood's Dark Cinema: The American Film Noir
    Twayne Publications, 1994.

Georgia State University professor Palmer covers the noir by zooming in on a few select examples from the film noir genre (Murder, My Sweet, Taxi Driver, Double Indemnity, Vertigo, etc.), focussing on several key characteristics of the genre. "By tracing the advent of film noir in the context of industry aims, target audiences, censorship and the role Hollywood played in American society, the author sheds new historical light on dark cinema." (Book News, Inc.)

  • Selby, Spencer
    Dark City : The Film Noir
    McFarland & Company, 1997.

  • Silver, Alain, and Elizabeth Ward.
    Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style....Buy this book
    Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1980, revised 1988.

Comprehensive well-thought out and easy to use. The definitive reference book on this film genre, by two of its most insightful critics. Alain Silver is also the editor of the seminal Film Noir Reader series.

  • Silver, Alain, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursin and Robert Porfirio,
    Film Noir: The Encyclopedia...Buy this book

This substantially revised and expanded fourth edition of the de facto standard reference work in the field -- nobody else even comes close -- has been a long time coming, and it's finally here! This isn’t just some gussied up reprint with a few minor tweaks here and there – it’s been souped up, filled out and blown up, shedding new light on the darkest of film genres. With exhaustive appendixes, over 300 photos, and plenty of savvy and enlightening criticism that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners, this is a straight up, no chaser blast for the noir junkie.

  • Silver, Alain, and James Ursini, editors,
    Film Noir Reader....Buy this book.
    Limelight Editions, 1996.

The original volume in the classic series reprints seven key essays on film noir and fourteen other articles, either long out of print or original to that anthology, covering many of the key films, directors, and themes of film noir, including the first English translation of "Towards a Definition of Film Noir," by Borde and Chaumeton, Raymond Durgnat's "Family Tree of Film Noir," and Paul Shrader's "Notes on Film Noir." And, of course, lots and lots of black and white (of course) photographs. The essays are often contradictory and overly academic, and the whole thing seems to need some good editing, but indispensable, nonetheless.

  • Silver, Alain,, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio, editors,
    Film Noir Reader 2....Buy this book
    Limelight Editions, 1999.

Film Noir Reader 2 contains 22 more essential essays on noir by such writers as Nino Frank (the film critic who actually named the style), Jean-Pierre Chartier, Claude Chabrol, Tom Flinn, Stephen Farber, Robin Wood, and Elizabeth Ward, among others, as they go over the films of Hitchcock, the femme fatales of Pushover and Thelma Jordan, jazz & noir, tabloid cinema, neo-noir fugitives, and the "new noir."

  • Silver, Alain, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio, editors,
    Film Noir Reader 3....Buy this book
    Limelight Editions, 2002.

Contains 18 never-before-published interviews, with directors (Andre de Toth, Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Robert Wise), filmmakers (James Wong Howe, John F. Seitz), actors (Claire Trevor, Lizabeth Scott), composers and critics. But once again, as in the previous two volumes, this book is marred by some sloppy editing, particularly when it comes to the photographs, many of which are misidentified, or bear no relation to the text.

  • Silver, Alain, and James Ursini,
    The Noir Style...Buy this book
    Overlook Press; 1999.

Yet another book on noir by Alain Silver, who seems to be making a career for himself out of it. this one's a glamourous (there's no other word for it) look at noir's visual style, tracing its roots in the work of Edward Hopper and Weegee, and how the use of light, shadow, frame, composition and body language came to define the term. These are often breath-taking images, all in glorious black and white, and for once the editors pay attention to both the captions and the illustrations, and get both wonderfully, exactly right. For real fans of the genre, this picture book is the sort of thing you could just eat up with a spoon.

  • Thomson, David.
    Suspects...Buy this book.
    London: Secker & Warburg, 1985.

A novel which offers short bios on over eighty famous film characters, and imagines the links between them. Excellent filmography to check out before heading to the videostore. For more info....

  • Thompson, Peggy and Saeko Usukawa
    Hardboiled: Great Lines from Classic Noir Films.....Buy this book
    Chronicle Books, 1995.

A great collection of quotes and pictures from classic noir films, not all private eye, but definitely a fun read. and Lee server does the intro, which is cool.

  • Tuska, Jon,
    The Detective in Hollywood: The Movie Careers of the Great Fictional Private Eyes and Their Creators.....Buy this book
    Doubleday, 1978.

With its emphasis on the thirties and forties, this is a tasty overview of (mostly) American detective series, laced with lots of juicy bits of trivia and bolstlered by some even tastier quotes. Included are all the usual suspects: Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Perry Mason, Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe and Lew Archer, but really makes the book for me are the outliers: and some really fascinating outliers.

A behind-the-scenes look at the world of noir, straight from the mouths of those responsible. And nestled among the numerous quotes, retorts, snippets and bon mots from the motley crew of directors, actors, cinematographers, writers and critics featured inare some truly breathtaking stills. Plus, an intro from the czar of noir himself, Mr. Eddie Muller.

  • Wilt, David,
    Hardboiled in Hollywood: Five Black Mask Writers and the Movies....Buy this book
    Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1991.

Facinating study of five Black Mask writers who went on to spread the gospel in Hollywood: Horace McCoy, Eric Taylor, Peter Ruric, Dwight V. Babcock and John K. Butler.

  • Wlaschin, Ken,
    Silent Mystery and Detective Films....Buy this book
    Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2009.

A real eye opener from film expert Wlaschin, this well-illustrated volume presents a jaw-dropping litany from around the world of over 1500 early crime flicks, ranging from slap-stick one reelers probably best forgotten to Gawd-I’d-love-to-see-them early film appearances of such beloved mystery icons as Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan and Boston Blackie. A labour of love that your mystery fan will love too. impressive.

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